AP featured image
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks at a campaign rally for Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden at Renaissance High School in Detroit, Monday, March 9, 2020. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

 

I have a lot of thoughts about Kamala Harris and her history with law enforcement in California.  Much of that has not been explored in-depth because the left-wing of the Democrat party that controlled the primary process wasn’t really interested in the details.  The mere fact that she was a DA in San Franciso, and AG for California, was disqualifying enough — they didn’t need any details.

But I’m going to save those for more in-depth features to come.  What I want to focus on here is why Harris’ electoral history, capped by her performance in the 2020 Primary Campaign.  I have a nagging suspicion that the people who urged Harris on Biden are not invested in the idea of Biden winning.  I suspect the people who urged Harris onto Biden would be happy to see him lose and leave a clear field for the Democrat party nomination for an open White House in 2024.

Harris had never before run for public office before running for District Attorney for the City of San Franciso.  She ran for DA in 2003, against a particularly odious incumbent named Terrance Hallinan who had hired her as an Assistant District Attorney in 1998.  She had a falling out with the management in Hallinan’s office, and departed.  By 2002 she had begun to explore the idea of running against him.  By that she had become involved in a long-term romantic relationship with California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, a noted “power broker” in California Democrat politics in that era.

In a brutal intra-party fight where both candidates had plenty of ethical warts, Harris ended up winning 56-44.  She ran unopposed for re-election in 2007.

One year into her second term, in November 2008, Harris announced that she was entering the race for the Office of Attorney General in the 2010 election cycle.  She was almost immediately endorsed by Democrat US Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, and newly elected House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, all three of whom were from San Francisco.  She won a three-way primary for the Democrat party nominee — but garnered only 33.6% of the statewide vote — her first run for office outside San Francisco, and only her second contested run for office ever.   In the general election of the Presidential mid-term year 2010, she faced Republican Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley who led in the polls for most of the race.  But in an Oct. 2010 debate, Cooley made the political blunder of complaining about the low salary for the California AG and announced that he intended to collect both a state pension and the AG salary at the same time.  Harris hit him with a brutal campaign ad that he was “double-dipping” from taxpayer-funded sources.

On election day Cooley declared victory based on the precinct totals, but as is now so often the case in California, the Democrat candidate Harris closed the margin and prevailed when all the absentee ballots were counted and announced two weeks later.

Barack Obama had carried California in 2008 with 61% of the vote.

Even in the brutal 2010 midterm election for Democrats nationwide, Barbara Boxer was reelected in California to the Senate with 52%.

Jerry Brown regained the Governorship after being out of the office for 27 years with 53%.

Democrats won all 8 statewide elections in 2010, including Kamala Harris’ win as Attorney General.

But only Kamala Harris failed to break 50% in winning her race — she won with only 46.1% of the statewide vote.

In 2014 she managed to win re-election running against a relatively no-name GOP opponent, capturing 57% of the vote.  Obama had won 60% of the vote in 2012

That brings us to her run for the Senate seat held by Barbara Boxer when she declined to seek re-election in 2016.

In the non-partisan California “Jungle Primary”, where all candidates run in a single contest, with the top two vote-getters the squaring off in the general election,   Harris led the field with 38% of the vote, with a second democrat candidate finishing second with 17%.  In the general election — against a Democrat Loretta Sanchez, in now heavily Democrat California — Harris won 61-38.

The take-away from this electoral history is that Harris has never been a terribly strong candidate in a contested race, and she has only once run in a race where she faced a strong ideological opponent — which produced by far her worst performance at the polls when she garnered substantially less than 50% of the vote in strongly Democratic California.

If we now look at the 2020 Presidential Primary Race, we see that Harris had favorable media coverage, a fat campaign war chest funded by California Democrat donors, and began to rise out of single digits in a 15+ candidate field during the summer of 2019.

In the June debate, she scored a broadside on Joe Biden for his opposition to forced busing in the 1970s, and the week following that debate she had climbed to 17% in the polls, up 9 points in a week.  At that point she trailed only Biden at 22%, who had dropped 10 points over the same time period following the debate.  Their respective paths in the campaign seemed to be set, with Harris prepared to surge past a weakening Biden campaign and march forward to claim the nomination while the more progressive candidates behind her split the far left-wing vote.

Only it never happened.  That was the high water mark for the Harris primary campaign.  She started a slow slide back to single digits in the polling, and by Thanksgiving the rumors were that she was out of cash.  On December 3, 2019, she announced she was withdrawing from the race — before a single ballot was cast.  Remaining in the race for the Democrat Party Nomination to take on Donald Trump — all people more favored by the Democrat Party faithful to be their standard-bearer — were the following:

Julian Castro, Marianne Williamson, Corey Booker, John Delaney, Micheal Bennett, Andrew Yang, Deval Patrick, Tom Steyer, and Tulsi Gabbard.

Kamala Harris “finished” the primary race “behind” all of them.

Her background as District Attorney and Attorney General puts her on the wrong side of the “divide” between the parties on the animating issue of the day — Antifa/BLM and the “police reform” protest movement marked by rioters and looting.

There was some constituency in the Democrat establishment pushing for Kamala Harris to be Biden’s VP.  It was not the Obama folks, and it was not House Democrats.  So whose left among the “power centers” of the Democrat Party?

This leads me to the odd realization that maybe the backers of Kamala Harris for VP aren’t enthusiastic to see Joe Biden win.  I do not see the rationale for how her selection, given her electoral history and positioning in the ideological spectrum of the modern party, gain more electoral votes for Joe Biden than she loses for Joe Biden.

Maybe Joe Biden needs to start questioning who his friends really are.