CBS: Harris to launch presidential bid on MLK Day

I wonder if she’ll invite the Knights of Columbus. According to CBS, Kamala Harris plans a major event on Martin Luther King Day to announce her entry into the 2020 Democratic presidential primary. That will almost certainly overshadow the shadowy video declaration by the only other hat-tosser into the campaign ring:

Sen. Kamala Harris has decided to run for president in 2020 and will announce her candidacy on or around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, probably at a campaign rally in Oakland, sources close to the freshman senator from California tell KCBS Radio.

Harris, 54, has been making the rounds of television talk shows and appearing at several events this week as part of a brief tour to promote her new book, “The Truths We Hold: An American Journey.”

At every stop, when asked about running for president, Harris has answered with some variation of “I’m not ready yet” to announce her decision, citing family considerations. But several sources knowledgeable about her plans say she is ready, and has in fact decided to run, with the enthusiastic blessing of her husband and two stepchildren.

Why Oakland, when she started her career across the bay? Her advisors want to avoid any connection to San Francisco … even among Californians:

Harris’ team wants maximum exposure for her campaign kickoff, and has been scouting for a telegenic location that could give her a “Springfield moment” akin to Barack Obama’s campaign launch in 2007 at the Old State Capitol in Illinois.

Harris’ advisors want to avoid identifying her too closely with San Francisco, where she first made her political mark as a two-term district attorney.

“San Francisco is viewed as a very nutty place by people outside of California, and frankly, by a lot of people inside California,” Sragow said.

Fact check: Absolutely true. Besides, San Francisco has a big enough problem with feces on the streets without adding the products of a political rally to the city.

Harris has been seen as the inevitable front-runner, and she starts off with a number of advantages. She’s a progressive among progressives, far younger than Bernie Sanders, and a candidate who can check off the diversity boxes for Democrats who don’t want a white male representing them against Donald Trump. California holds a vast supply of donor money, and one can count on much of it flowing to a local favorite rather than, say, Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren. Harris has made her intentions known for a long enough stretch that she’ll have donors already lined up to put her in the first tier.

So don’t count her out, but don’t count her in for the nomination yet either. Harris has a number of problems, of which San Francisco is only one. For one thing, the book she’s currently promoting hails the leadership qualities of her longtime deputy Larry Wallace and credits him with creating an “implicit bias and procedural justice training program.” Wallace had to resign a few weeks ago after credible allegations of sexual harassment arose, so that part of the book makes Harris look incompetent at best. At worst, the $400,000 settlement reached with his victim makes Harris look both dishonest and manipulative.

After this appearance on CNN with Jake Tapper, the takeaway is that Harris is actually all three:

She ran a department of “almost 5,000 people,” but Wallace was her right-hand man, so to speak. Few people had as much access to Harris than Wallace did, and vice-versa. Furthermore, the harassment complaint arrived months before Harris won election to the US Senate and left the state attorney general’s office. Surely her actual office — where she worked with the high-ranking staff — wasn’t so big that a harassment complaint against her key deputy would simply get lost in the bustle.

This demonstrates something that has been apparent since Harris arrived in the Senate with presidential aspirations surrounding her. She is more name and concept than reality. Harris’ record as California’s AG is less than spectacular for one thing, as C.J. Ciaramella recounts at Reason:

“America has a deep and dark history of people using the power of the prosecutor as an instrument of injustice,” she writes. “I know this history well—of innocent men framed, of charges brought against people of color without sufficient evidence, of prosecutors hiding information that would exonerate defendants, of the disproportionate application of the law.”

What her book doesn’t address, however, is the many times her own office contributed to that dark history. …

In Baca, Harris’ office only withdrew its opposition after an embarrassing (and filmed) hearing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, where a panel of three Ninth Circuit judges pointedly asked why such prosecutors weren’t being charged with perjury and threatened to release an opinion naming names if Harris’ office continued in its folly.

In 2015, Harris’ office also appealed the removal of the entire Orange County District Attorney’s office from a high-profile death penalty case after a bombshell report revealed a long-running and unconstitutional jailhouse snitch program.

In 2014, the California Attorney General’s Office opposed releasing nonviolent California inmates—part of the state’s compliance with a 2011 Supreme Court ruling that found its prison system was unconstitutionally overcrowded—arguing that “if forced to release these inmates early, prisons would lose an important labor pool.” Harris said she was unaware of her office’s work and was “shocked” to read about it in the newspaper.

Harris hasn’t done much better in Washington, either. Her interactions on the Senate Judiciary Committee have only been remarkable for her bungling, especially on her lame attempt to bluff Brett Kavanaugh into retreat and her other attacks during the hearings. When the spotlight shines on Harris, she underperforms, at times dramatically — which might be fine for a senator with a safe seat, but won’t work over the long haul as a presidential contender.

Still, Harris is the wish-fulfillment candidate among Democrats. Don’t underestimate the power of that wishcasting to blind them to Harris’ flaws. That was precisely what happened in 2016, too.

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