Senator Kamala Harris, the California Democrat and barrier-breaking prosecutor who became the second black woman to serve in the United States Senate, declared her candidacy for president on Monday, joining an increasingly crowded and diverse field in what promises to be a wide-open nomination process.
“Truth, justice, decency, equality, freedom, democracy—these aren’t just words,” she said in a video announcement. “They’re the values we as Americans cherish and they’re all on the line now. The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for American values. That’s why I’m running for president of the United States. I’m running to lift those voices, to bring our voices together . . . Let’s do this together. Let’s claim our future. For ourselves, for our children, and for our country.”
The 54-year-old Harris has been seen as a rising star in the Democratic Party even before she won a Senate seat in 2016. She received national attention as San Francisco District Attorney before being elected California Attorney General in 2010.
Her campaign is highlighting that career, citing her experience on issues like sexual assault, housing and college affordability. Some of her proposals include middle class tax cuts, rent relief, immigration and criminal justice overhauls, and Medicare for all.
Harris’s background in law enforcement could be a challenge in a Democratic primary, and she was asked on ABC about comments criticizing opposition to law enforcement on the left. “I think it is a false choice to suggest that communities do not want law enforcement,” Harris said. “Most communities do. They don’t want excessive force. They don’t want racial profiling, but then nobody should.”
Harris is biracial — her parents were immigrants from Jamaica and India — making her only the second black woman and first South Asian-American senator ever to serve in the Senate. One of just three black lawmakers currently serving in the Senate, Harris plans on embracing that background in what will likely be a large and diverse Democratic primary field.