2020 Candidate Spotlight: Kamala Harris

DemWords: Columnist L. Renee’ Chubb digs in and assesses the strength of Kamala Harris’ candidacy for President of the United States.

In light of Kamala releasing her tax returns for the past 15 years, I feel it’s important we take a look at her more seriously as a heavy contender in this packed democratic race for the 2020 Presidential election.   A Harris campaign aide said the release makes her “the most transparent candidate in the field when it comes to information about personal finances.”

What’s notable about this release is that no other candidate has released more returns.  The California Senator is reporting that she and her husband paid about $700,000 in federal taxes on their combined income (adjusted gross) of $1.9 million dollars in 2018.  ($1.5 million of which was earned by her attorney husband, Doug Emhoff, as reported in her memoir “The Truths We Hold”.

While Harris is not the first candidate, and hopefully not the last to release their tax returns this election cycle, there have been inconsistencies in the number of returns released.  Not saying there is anything right or wrong, it’s just a point of notice.

According to AP News:

“Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York released her 2018 tax return in late March and urged her colleagues to do the same. She was the first Democratic candidate to do so. Gillibrand has released her returns annually since 2012. That year, she released her returns dating back to 2007.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts released a decade of her tax returns, as well as her 2018 returns.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar this month released 12 years of tax returns, dating to 2006, when she first became a candidate for federal office.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who released just one year of tax returns when he ran for president in 2016, said more than a month ago that he would release a decade’s worth of returns. He and his campaign have said they will “release his tax returns by Monday’s tax filing deadline.”

I’m not going to bore you with a bunch of stats and Wikipedia information on Kamala Harris; I want to focus on more on a voter-vetting style type of piece, with more focus on the women candidates, in the future.    #DemCast

We have seen what complacency has done to this country, and while I strongly support all of the highly talented and effective candidates running, unfortunately, ALL of the women candidates deserve a lot more media attention than they are currently receiving, so it’s important for us independent journalists to help you, and ourselves, decide.  While these pieces will certainly not do justice to any debates that will be forthcoming, it’s important we start to take a look at more than just likability. It’s also time we look at other possibilities besides a male candidate, and until the rest of society catches up, it’s up to us to keep that hope alive. I’m choosing to start with Kamala Harris simply in light of her transparency with her tax returns as compared to others.  

Over the next few weeks, we will break down the policies of the other candidates in a similar fashion and look at their chances of beating Trump, and what we can do to ensure that happens, so you can vote for whomever you choose. Remember, that’s the important thing at the end of the day. I’m not endorsing any candidates until after the debates and the final nominations.

Be sure you check out #DemCast to stay up to date on the latest information about this life-changing election cycle and also check out this column each Wednesday for the next 30 days to stay up to date on the amazing women candidates, and their campaign progress.     

Can Kamala Harris Beat Donald Trump in 2020?

It’s going to take more than some hefty donations to her campaign for Kamala to be considered a heavy contender to take out Trump, but what is America really saying they need, and more importantly, what aren’t we saying?  

As women across America watch our basic human rights being snatched from the scrolls of history, there’s an urgency and fire in women that I speak to – of all colors, backgrounds, and religions – as I’ve never witnessed before.  Women, and especially women of color, are the lifeblood of the Democratic Party and have been since the days of Shirley Chisholm.

If women’s anger on Twitter weren’t evidencing enough, In November, we registered voters, marched, protested, and formed grassroots organizations and movements that elected 89 House members who were female, which resulted in Democrats control of the House, and ultimately, the installment of Speaker Nancy Pelosi.  (Thanks for the help of all men who showed up and showed out.) In stark contrast, Republicans only elected 13 female members to the House, which was down from the previous election by 23 seats. That says a lot about the “winning” party.

So let’s get out our checklist, write KAMALA HARRIS – WINNABLE FACTORS  at the top, and let’s list them out.  At the end of the series, we will have a visionary board of sorts, with all of the women candidates that we can share pictures of, in order to make this a discussion so we can get on the same page.  

It is way beyond time for a woman President.  I do honestly believe that even men feel the shift. If they don’t they are stuck in quintessential behavior of a society that doesn’t view women as equals.  

Many women see voting for a “sister” as a distinct way to send a message about their values.  “A large number of women use their identity as a woman as their primary political identity,” says Henry Olsen, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center

On top of that? From a political standpoint as well as a personal standpoint, she represents what we all voted for this past November: diversity.  She is literally the representation of what America wants to be viewed as, and once upon a time, actually was. She’s a mixed daughter of

Jamaican (father) and Indian (mother) immigrants.  This gives her a great political advantage in today’s climate where anything other than the white male is perceived to be relevant and more importantly, relatable.   Her campaign slogan, “For the People”, couldn’t be any more poignant in arguing that fact.

The Washington Post, back in 2015, asked that question, “Is Kamala Harris the Next Obama?”.  This was a full 2 years before she would even take her seat on the Senate and her favorability has only risen since that time.  Just like Obama notably she decided to run after serving 2 years in her Senate role, and she has remained close to his policies and political playbook as her career has flourished.

Not only does she have the support of Obama, which is a huge endorsement, but she also has the support of many Fortune 500 clients,  as seen below: Source Opensecrets.com, and her secret weapon, as some may call it, her sorority. The sisters of AKA, Alpha Kappa Alpha, who total over 300,000 in a span of colleges across the country and several continents.  

“We’re talking about political power, and we have it,” said Lorri Saddler Rice who pledged AKA with Harris at Howard in 1986. “We have it and we’re going to leverage it. You’ll see it’s going to make a difference.”  For Harris’ line sisters from Howard University, this moment goes far deeper than a savvy stop on the political calendar. It is a natural extension of the legacy of their founding members and the sisters who followed, championing political causes as varied as the advancement of women, voting rights, education, ending famine, and building schools in Africa.

Top 20 contributors to Campaign Committee & Leadership PAC combined

Rank Contributor Total Individuals PACs
1 University of California $131,339 $131,339 $0
2 WarnerMedia Group $128,175 $127,175 $1,000
3 Venable LLP $115,273 $115,273 $0
4 Alphabet Inc $110,000 $100,000 $10,000
5 Creative Artists Agency $102,770 $102,770 $0
6 21st Century Fox $93,915 $93,915 $0
7 Paul, Weiss et al $77,936 $77,936 $0
8 Ziffren, Brittenham et al $74,650 $74,650 $0
9 Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy $69,800 $69,800 $0
10 Walt Disney Co $64,959 $64,959 $0
11 Silver Lake Partners $61,393 $60,393 $1,000
12 Akin, Gump et al $59,848 $57,848 $2,000
13 Cisco Systems $58,428 $53,428 $5,000
14 Apple Inc $58,269 $58,269 $0
15 Comcast Corp $57,230 $57,230 $0
16 State of California $54,146 $54,146 $0
17 MacAndrews & Forbes $51,810 $41,810 $10,000
18 National Amusements Inc $51,527 $51,527 $0
19 Lowenstein Sandler Llp $44,708 $44,708 $0
20 Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher $44,633 $39,633 $5,000

So here’s our WINNABLE FACTORS Checklist

✅ She’s A Woman

✅ She Represents Both Sides Of The Race Debate

✅ She Has Tons of Support Worldwide

But is that enough to beat Trump in 2020?  

For me and many other black women, the presidential candidacy of a fellow black woman is more than impressive and provocative.  As I vet her and reflect upon Harris’s announcement, I have already come to the realization and even expectancy– of people inside and outside of my community – that I will automatically vote for her.  I’m not coming out in support of any candidate at this point, but it’s worth noting that no one, however, should take black women’s support for Harris for granted. Neither should they ignore how Trump actually feels about her as well.

According to Axios, Trump was awed by Harris’ massive crowd for her announcement ceremony, according to White House officials. Some of Trump’s advisers see Harris as a primary threat because it’s apparent to them that Trump hasn’t comprehended exactly how to how to deal with her.

    • He’s given her no nickname and has yet to even test-drive a line of attack. A Trump adviser told Axios: “It’s going [to be] hard for the president to attack her and debate her” because Democrats could easily cast his attacks as racist and sexist.
    • “With Kamala … I don’t know what she does to the young, but more broadly to the African-American vote. If they come out in huge numbers that’s a challenge,” a Trump campaign adviser said.
  • The other side: Though several aides admit she’s a winner when it comes to identity politics, they also question whether she has enough experience and can sustain the momentum she’ll need.

Let’s look at how it can be possible, and what Kamala Harris’ campaign do to improve voter relations and mass approval.  The focus right now needs to be how to transform red states to blue states, and increase her chances of truly beating trump beyond a measure of doubt.  (Again, don’t worry…I’m going to do this for ALL of the women equally to make it fair for all of them, stay with me).

Before we move on, let’s recap on our checklist of WINNABLE FACTORS so far.  

So here’s our WINNABLE FACTOR Checklist

✅ She’s A Woman

✅ She Represents Both Sides Of The Race Debate

✅ She Has Tons of Support Worldwide

✅ She Has a Good Chance of Beating Trump and He Sees her as Formidable

Her time as a prosecutor is nothing to dismiss.  In fact, she had quite an impressive career, this checklist is impressive, yet it needs to be noted that at distinctive points throughout her career, Harris has supported policies that have contributed to a broken criminal justice system that harms people of color at disproportionate and alarming rates.  So, no, many of the assumptions that I’m going to vote for her simply because she is a black woman, along with thousands of others, is false. What is strikingly missing, for me personally, are her stances around police shootings in the black community, how she’s going to repair her criminal justice image from her Prosecutor days, and what are her plans for improving race relations in this country.  I’d love to wait and see what she has to say about those at the debate, but any day now would also be good.

Let’s take a look at her 7 most common policies that every American has an interest in.

Kamala Harris Presidential Policy Examination: 7 Issues of Importance

Healthcare:

Harris backs the “Medicare for All” bill sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. That bill would establish government-run health care system that allows every American to have access to care and end private health insurance as it currently exists. The bill would pay for that system in part with a 6.2 percent charge on employers, a 2.2 percent fee on most families that would vary at some income levels, increased marginal tax rates for incomes $250,000 and higher, increased taxes on capital gains, and an increased estate tax for the wealthiest. Harris has also introduced bills to increase access to mental health care and address high maternal mortality rates for black women.

Social Issues for Women:

A supporter of abortion rights, Harris voted against a bill that would limit abortions to the first 20 weeks of pregnancy. As California state attorney general, she launched an investigation of anti-abortion activist David Daleiden, whose undercover videos later sparked charges of breaking privacy laws. His supporters said Harris’ relationship with Planned Parenthood was a conflict of interest.

On gay rights, Harris refused to defend California’s law banning same-sex marriage while she was attorney general. She believes same-sex marriage should be legal and filed a court brief supporting transgender people’s position that they should have access to the bathroom of their choice. She does not support states necessarily paying for gender reassignment surgery of transgender inmates, and once filed a court motion seeking to block the procedure in California.

Immigration and Border Security:

Regarding U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Harris believes it’s time to “re-examine” the agency and “probably think about starting from scratch.” She has not joined other Democrats — including 2020 rivals Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand — in explicitly calling for ICE to be abolished. Harris was a vocal opponent last year of the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy, which led to thousands of migrant children being separated from their families at the southwest border. Harris co-sponsored the “REUNITE Act,” legislation that aimed to reunite families separated at the border.

Also, Harris introduced a bill to improve oversight at immigration detention centers and a bill to strengthen protections for unaccompanied migrant children in U.S. custody. Harris supports the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, the Obama-era program protecting young undocumented immigrants brought to the country illegally as children. She opposes Trump’s border wall proposals and has called on the White House to end the shutdown and agree to reopen the government.

Gun Reform:

A self-described “good marksman,” Harris is also a vocal supporter of increased gun control. She co-sponsored a bill to ban assault weapons and the sale of high-capacity magazines, defined as those which can fire more than 10 rounds without reloading. As California’s attorney general, Harris defended a state law that blocked gun dealers from displaying signs that show or describe handguns. (The law was later overturned.) She also launched a statewide sweep to capture firearms from anyone illegally possessing them.

Climate Change:  

As California’s attorney general, Harris launched an investigation into Exxon Mobil in 2016, after reports that the oil and gas giant lied for decades about the risks of climate change. Harris criticized President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. Additionally, Harris opposed the Trump administration’s proposal to reverse Obama-era fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. Harris voted against repealing regulations on methane emissions and has a 100 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters, which tracks lawmakers’ voting records on energy and environmental issues.

Education:

Harris would enact the “College for All Act” proposed by Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. That would create a government funding program that would pay for tuition and fees at public colleges and universities for students with incomes of $125,000 a year or less. This would be funded by a fee on Wall Street firms of 0.5 percent per stock trade. She supports expanding Head Start and Early Head Start and would create “national universal prekindergarten,” though she has not yet offered specifics for that plan.

Other

Green New Deal: She’s among the list of 2020 hopefuls who signed on as a co-sponsor of the bill.

Medicare for All: She co-sponsored Sen. Bernie Sanders’ bill.

Marijuana legalization: She’s declared her support for legalizing marijuana at the federal level, admitting in an interview that she had smoked a joint “a long time ago.” Signed on as a cosponsor of Cory Booker’s Marijuana Justice Act to legalize weed at the federal level.

Teacher pay: Announced in March a plan to give the average teacher a $13,500 salary increase, which would cost an estimated $315 billion over 10 years.

Taxes: Last October, she introduced the LIFT the Middle-Class Act which, Vox’s Dylan Matthews explains, was basically an expansion of the earned income tax credit. Earlier that year, she proposed the Rent Relief Act, which would offer tax credits to help with rents.

Sex work: Harris told The Root that she supports decriminalizing sex work, saying “we can’t criminalize consensual behavior as long as no one is being harmed.”

Death penalty: Harris has called for a national moratorium on the death penalty.

War In Afghanistan:  After a trip to Afghanistan last month, Harris said she supports a “political solution” to the war that would allow U.S. troops to return home. She has not taken a public position on Trump’s planned U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria.

Can Kamala Harris Actually Be Effective As President?

Gender, race, religion aside.  At this point, we have to look at what they are saying, and even more so what their track record has been.   So, that means we as diligent voters have to listen to what these candidates are saying…as well as again, what they are not.  

Kamala Harris will be 56 on Election Day, but this question is less about her age than it is about her rank order among the multitude of Democratic politicians patiently waiting their turn. Again, she will have been in Washington for just four years in 2020, with plenty of prime nomination-seeking time remaining in her career. When compared to national political fixtures like Biden or Warren, both of whom boast robust résumés and lengthy tenures in office, Harris is the relative newcomer. And again, in a crowded field, she’ll have to persuade voters why her status as such doesn’t mean she should wait in line until next time.

That said, the experience is but one of many factors voters consider, and it is strong (and recent) precedent for a young, black, recently elected senator from a blue state relying on grassroots enthusiasm to leapfrog their party-establishment peers and win the nod anyway. There are early signs that Kamala Harris might be that candidate, too: On the day after announcing, she raised an eye-popping $1.5 million, with an average donation amount of just $37.

“I believe our country wants and needs some leadership that provides a vision of the country in which everyone could see themselves,” she said on Morning Joe when asked why she decided to run. Her nomination would certainly signal a changing of the guard within the party; she is about to find out whether Democrats are ready for it.

Where Can Kamala Harris Improve in Her Campaign?

While black colleges are certainly worthy of Harris’ time and energy, is she also missing out a huge opportunity to reach out to black women voters, who are the strongest and largest base of the Democratic party?  I believe so. As black women, our children are dying in the streets from gun violence, diseases caused by poor housing conditions, lack of education, and in some areas of the country, even clean water.

Proof of that is black women are nowhere near a top source of campaign funds for Harris. With political roots in California and legal background, she retains close ties to donors from the film industry and major law firms, which helped her raise over $15 million in her 2016 senate campaign.  Time Warner employees, as well as a company-affiliated PAC, gave her $127,975 in that race, according to Open Secrets, and you can see Warner combined contributions in the chart above.

Black women and people of color, unfortunately, can’t afford to equalize our need for answerability and draconian policies with treachery. Just the opposite is true, our loyalty to the communities we live in and leave behind compels us to command necessitate the absolute best and most from Presidential candidates.  It is our duty to help them obligation to help them surmise all of the ways in which they may have harmed us now and in the past. It is also our inherent responsibility to insist that our candidate has a clear plan on how they will fight for us in this country. We deserve nothing less.

Despite my and other early concerns, I prevail in the hope of Harris’ and what she can do for this country. More importantly, I am committed to helping ensure my community is no longer just merely charmed and awed at the color of someone’s face during election season, then simply disregarded once the votes are cast, or don’t vote at all. That means doing exactly what this article has done, and that’s being honest with oneself about the candidates, and not just protecting them because they look like us or think like us on one or two subjects.

Some of the key criticisms of Kamala have been:

    • Harris has faced criticism because of cases she argued and policies she put in place as California’s attorney general.
    • She defended the death penalty as attorney general, despite being personally against it.
    • She stayed silent on a number of criminal justice reforms championed by progressives.
    • She didn’t take a position on California Proposition 47, which was approved by voters, that reduced some felonies to misdemeanors.
    • She opposed a bill that would’ve required her office to investigate police shootings.

So here’s our WINNABLE FACTORS Checklist In Closing.

✅ She’s A Woman

✅ She Represents Both Sides Of The Race Debate

✅ She Has Tons of Support

✅ She Has a Good Chance of Winning against Trump & He Sees her as Formidable

✅ She Is In Support of Legalizing Marijuana

✅ She Supports Medicare for All

✅ She Wants Increased Gun Control

✅ She Believes in a Woman’s Right to Choose

✅ She Is Not a Climate Denier

✅ She Believes in College for All

✅ She Wants to End the War & Bring Home the Troops

✅ She Can ACTUALLY Be Effective

Is that Enough for YOU?  If not, find out what is and as I roll out the other candidates you can compare them to your DREAM CANDIDATE checklist.  Until then, find ways to get active in grassroots activism both online and offline.

How To Support

We have to team up with boots on the ground activists and encourage them on social media.  As #DemCast points out,

Door-to-door canvassing, phone-banking, and postcard-writing are all accepted forms of Democratic volunteering, and they’re acknowledged as such by candidates and campaigns nationwide.

In 2018, on the heels of Russia’s cyber-attack on our nation, another form of campaign volunteering sprang forward: digital activism. There are two key roles filled by digital activists that are important to highlight.

Also, volunteer and donate to your candidate of choice.  Let’s wait until the debates happen, and weigh out all the candidates.  If you support Kamala Harris, here’s how you can do so here. As I cover the other women, I’ll be sharing their information as well.  

Campaign Email: info@kamalaharris.org

Campaign Website: https://kamalaharris.org/

Campaign Website: https://open.spotify.com/user/senatorkamalaharris

Campaign Website: https://medium.com/@KamalaHarris

Campaign Social Media

Campaign Website – Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kamalaharris/

Volunteer at #Demcast and get your digital activism education, training, and support.  

Be sure to check out next week’s article on Elizabeth Warren, a formidable opponent in this race.  Until then, be sure to, again, check out the other amazing writers at DemwritePress.com and also feel free to join the grassroots digital activism hub for a blue wave #2020, #DemCast.  

If you have any candidates you want me to profile please let me know in the comments. Until then #Stay Woke and make sure you get involved on and offline with equal enthusiasm. Our democracy is at stake and a simple Tweet and frustrated 280 rants is not going to help us, at the end of the day.  I often have to check my own rage at the door, and delete tweets I shouldn’t have said. At the end of the day, we can all have our own opinions, our own voices, our own convictions. The point is to find that common ground that we all share, putting egos aside and being able to compromise.   

Let’s get at it.  I’m ready. Are you?

———————————————-

Renee’ s Column, “Dem Words: Wednesday Words of Wisdom”, breaks down everyday issues from the perspective of the black community.

Her hope is that through her words, she can get more people in her community and across America to become consistently involved in our democracy and become educated and re-informed about how politics does, in fact, affect our every day lives.

Everyone of every race, religion, gender, and creed are encouraged to read this blog each Wednesday and increase your awareness of the African American experience. This is for everyone….so we never have to worry about history repeating itself! Let’s say enough is enough and let’s stay engaged, and keep those around us engaged as well!

If you want to have your voice heard, be sure to reach out to DemWritePress, and click on Write For Us!

#DemocratsForDemocracy  #DemCast  #DemWords #KamalaHarris #POTUS2020

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.