Indian origin Kamala Harris elected California's new US senator
09 November 2016
Kamala Harris, the daughter of immigrants from India and Jamaica, has been elected to the US Senate from California, becoming the first Indian woman elected to a Senate seat, and the semi-black woman after Carol Moseley Braun, who served a single term after being elected in 1992.
Kamala Harris, a career prosecutor and attorney general in the most populous US state, has the right lineage that fits the Democratic Party's goal to mirror a changing country, where minorities are projected to be the majority by 2050.
Harris's win may not be significant since in California, as in any other US state, women are in a majority, but it is significant as Harris is taking a seat in a Senate that remains overwhelmingly white and male.
''Harris will help make the Senate look more like America,'' said Larry Sabato, director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia. ''Slowly, the Senate will catch up with the nation's demographics, and Harris proves the point.''
Like her friend President Barack Obama, Kamala Harris is a lawyer and racial groundbreaker. Her sister, Maya Harris, was a senior policy adviser for Hillary Clinton's campaign.
''Our diversity is our power,'' Harris told fellow Democrats last year.
The 52-year-old Harris, a liberal Democrat, will replace retiring Barbara Boxer, 76, who served four terms after being first elected in 1992.
Harris supports gay rights, reproductive rights and the $15 minimum wage. She want to do more for climate change action and supports immigration reform with a path to citizenship for people who entered the US illegally.
Born in Oakland, California, Harris married Los Angeles lawyer Douglas Emhoff two years ago - her first marriage.
Her economist father and cancer specialist mother met as graduate students at the University of California, Berkeley, where they strived for justice and rights and.
They were later divorced, when the daughters were quite young.
As a candidate Kamala Harris also stressed her fights with big banks during the mortgage crisis, for-profit colleges that were financially exploiting students and environmental wrongdoers.
A central theme for years has been recidivism and criminal justice reform, where she has advocated for a different approach to non-violent crimes that emphasizes rehabilitation and help getting back on track, not severe, one-size-fits-all punishment.
She calls it smart on crime.
Harris overcame the challenge of another Democrat, Rep Loretta Sanchez, who lost out because of her own verbal gaffes.