California Senator Kamala Harris’ former paramour hangs over her political career like a dark cloud, no matter how much she tries to distance herself from him.
Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, who also served as Democratic speaker of the California State Assembly for 15 years, pops up at the most inopportune times to give her unsolicited advice via his column in the San Francisco Chronicle called “Willie’s World.” He likes to brag that he influenced Harris’ early career as if he were some kind of Svengali.
“Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker. And I certainly helped with her first race for district attorney in San Francisco,” he wrote in an article for the Chronicle last January.
Harris dated him between 1994 to 1995 while he was estranged, but not divorced, from his wife Blanche Brown for more than a decade. The powerful legislator was 60 and Harris, an Alameda County deputy district attorney, was 29. He raised her political profile when he appointed her to two patronage jobs.
She took a leave of absence to serve at the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, which paid a salary of $97,088 a year. Five months later, Harris resigned and Brown immediately appointed her to serve on the Medical Assistance Commission for $72,000 a year.
Long after their relationship petered out Harris described Brown as “an albatross hanging around my neck.” When she ran for the position of San Francisco district attorney in 2003 she told SF Weekly: “I refuse to design my campaign around criticizing Willie Brown. I have no doubt that I am independent of him — and that he would probably right now express some fright about the fact that he cannot control me.”
“His career is over. I will be alive and kicking for the next 40 years. I do not owe him a thing.”
When Harris dropped out of the presidential race in December last year after polling at 3 percent Brown wrote, “Running for president forced her to pass herself off as an expert on health care, the economy and foreign policy. She’s not.”
Brown chimed in with more unwanted advice earlier this month in his column “Kamala Harris should say no to vice presidency.”
“If Joe Biden offers the vice presidential slot to Sen. Kamala Harris, my advice to her would be to politely decline,” he wrote.
“Harris is a tested and proven campaigner who will work her backside off to get Biden elected. That said, the vice presidency is not the job she should go for — asking to be considered as attorney general in a Biden administration would be more like it,” Brown claimed.
“Being picked for the vice presidency is obviously a huge honor, and if Biden wins, Harris would make history by being the first woman to hold the job,” he noted.
The toxic eighty-six-year-old armchair critic concluded that “the glory would be short-lived, and historically, the vice presidency has often ended up being a dead end.”
A recent poll found that Harris’ historic candidacy has garnered a lukewarm response from a significant portion of the African American community. Many had hoped for a more progressive candidate.
Her reputation as a tough prosecutor, at a time when these voters are protesting against police abuses, makes her selection difficult to accept. Others find her demeanor angry and cold and some complain that her voice is shrill and annoying.
One third of them said they were less likely to vote for Biden after he chose Harris, according to a Rasmussen Reports survey released on August 17. A third of likely voters who were black said they are “less likely” to vote for the Democratic ticket, a third said they were “more likely” to back it, and about a third said it will either have no impact on their choice or weren’t sure.
The survey showed that 37% of black voters have a “very favorable” view of Harris compared to 28% of white voters. They are “just not that into her,” signalling a looming electoral disaster for Biden.