Secretary of State Alex Padilla will replace Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate, Governor Gavin Newsom announced Tuesday. Padilla will become the first Latino senator in California.

“His appointment will make history. But the @AlexPadilla4CA I know is far more interested in changing history — especially for the working men and women of our state and country. I can think of no one better to represent the state of California as our next United States Senator,” Newsom tweeted. The tweet included a video of Padilla agreeing to take the position, saying “I will make you proud and California proud by getting it done in the U.S. Senate. We’ve got a lot of work to do, and I’m ready.”

The son of Mexican immigrants, Padilla, 47, will now represent the nation’s most populous state, which also has the largest Latino population in the country. According to the  U.S. Census Bureau, there are more than 15.5 million Latinos in California, or 39.4% of the state’s population. Padilla, a long time friend and political ally of Newsom, has been secretary of state since 2015 and he is the first Latino to hold that position.

“From those struggling to make ends meet to the small businesses fighting to keep their doors open to the health care workers looking for relief, please know that I am going to the Senate to fight for you. We will get through this pandemic together and rebuild our economy in a way that doesn’t leave working families behind,” Padilla said in a press release.

Vice President-elect Harris congratulated Padilla via Twitter on Tuesday. Padilla will serve out her term, which ends in 2022, and can then run again for a full six-year term.

“I know you’ll continue to be a champion for our great state in the Senate. Congratulations my dear friend,” Harris wrote.


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