Newsom Formally Appoints Padilla to the U.S. Senate, Nominates Weber as Secretary of State

Governor Newsom formally appoints Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate and nominates Dr. Shirley Weber as Secretary of State. | Photo courtesy of Governor’s Press Office

Follows the morning resignation of Kamala Harris from the U.S. Senate as she prepares to be inaugurated Vice President of the United States on Wednesday

As Americans celebrate the legacy of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and his work to expand voting rights and representation, Governor Gavin Newsom on Monday formally submitted the appointment of Alex Padilla to become California’s first Latino U.S. Senator and the nomination of Assemblymember Dr. Shirley Weber to become the state’s first African American Secretary of State. The announcement came as Kamala Harris formally resigned from her position as U.S. Senator Monday morning as she prepares to make history by becoming the first African American and woman to become Vice President of the United States when she is inaugurated alongside President-elect Joe Biden Wednesday. 

Padilla also formally resigned Monday morning as secretary of state, making James Schwab, current chief deputy secretary of state, the acting secretary of state in California.  

The governor formally submitted a letter to Senate President pro Tempore Toni Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon nominating Dr. Shirley Weber to fill the secretary of state vacancy. The Legislature will have 90 days to vote on Weber’s confirmation.  

“It is fitting that on the same day we celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. — a civil rights icon who fought for justice and representation — we also move forward the appointment of California’s first Latino U.S. Senator Alex Padilla and the nomination of Dr. Shirley Weber who will serve as the first-ever African American Secretary of State. Both will be strong defenders of our democracy during this fragile moment in our nation’s history,” said Newsom in a statement. “These appointments are only possible because of the trailblazing leadership of my dear friend and California’s own Kamala Harris, who will move on from the Senate to make history by becoming the first African American and woman to serve as Vice President of the United States. This is a proud day for California.”

“It has been my privilege and honor to serve the people of California as Secretary of State for the past six years. I am proud of the transformative work we have accomplished in partnership with you, the Legislature, county election officials, voting rights advocates, and community leaders throughout the state to reduce barriers to participation in the electoral process, increase voter registration and participation, and administer safe and secure elections — even during the COVID-19 pandemic. More than 22 million registered voters were able to vote in the 2020 Presidential General Election and a record 17.8 million Californians cast their ballot – demonstrating to the nation a proven model of electoral reform and innovation,” wrote Senator-designate Padilla in his letter to the governor. “I am humbled and honored by your trust in me to represent California in the United States Senate. I look forward to continuing to serve the great State of California as a United States Senator and to ensuring that the rights and democratic principles we cherish are protected and preserved for all people.”

“Dr. King teaches us that we are at our best when we stand up in service of others and I am humbled to be able to continue to stand up for Californians as Secretary of State. I thank the Governor for formally submitting my nomination to the Legislature today and look forward to lifting up and defending our democratic values of inclusivity and participation in this new role,” said Dr. Weber.

By state law, the governor can fill vacancies to the U.S. Senate and, subject to confirmation by the State Senate and Assembly, the Secretary of State. Newsom announced his selection of Padilla and Dr. Weber in December. 

Senator Harris’ resignation became effective at 9 a.m. Monday.


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