Progressives Begin 2020 Dissection Of Kamala Harris

By Alex Roarty and Christopher Cadelago
McClatchy Washington Bureau

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Recent attacks against California Senator Kamla Harris surprised many of her supporters, who have watched her cultivate a national following since becoming a senator in January.


Kamala Harris, liberal hero?

It certainly doesn’t feel that way after some left-wing leaders and think-piece writers spent the summer dissecting the California senator’s record, often harshly.

Even a social media meme took aim, questioning Harris’ tenure as attorney general and derisively referring to her as a “centrist corncob.”

The attacks surprised many of her supporters, who have watched Harris cultivate a national following since becoming a senator in January. And they raised an unexpectedly early but important question for a woman many see as a possible presidential contender and certain party leader: Does she have a problem with the progressive movement?

The vast majority of progressive leaders would say, in fact, she does not. In interviews with a dozen of them (almost all of whom spoke of Harris as if she were running for president in 2020), they described a talented rising star who has made a great first impression with her strong performance in Washington.

In the early jockeying for 2020, she hardly carries the same baggage as other possible rivals, such as Cory Booker, a senator from New Jersey.

But the criticism, if not fully representative of the liberal left, carries a warning. Even though she’s popular with many progressives now, she’s not the hero that Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts or Bernie Sanders of Vermont are; and both of them are potential presidential candidates too.

“Kamala Harris is extremely popular in California and has a really strong base of support here. But the presidency is the top prize,” said Rose Kapolczynski, a Democratic consultant in Los Angeles. “And once you start swimming in that pond, you’ve got to expect that other people are going to take a whack at you.”

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