Sunrise California Statement on Gavin Newsom’s Appointment of Alex Padilla to U.S. Senate

Yesterday, Gavin Newsom appointed Alex Padilla to fill Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ seat in the U.S. Senate. This appointment was only possible because young people of color — motivated by climate and environmental justice — mobilized to power the Biden-Harris victory. Our movement’s vision has long been popular with the vast majority of Californians, making this appointment a key opportunity to bring a bold progressive voice to the Senate.

We recognize the significance of the appointment of California’s first Latinx Senatorlong overdue given the State’s demographics. Nevertheless, Alex Padilla will have to represent young people of color not solely with his identity, but with the policies he fights for. We will not stand for politicians who waiver in the fight for racial and environmental justice. Based on his record of opposing Medicare for All, killing single-payer healthcare in California, taking money from fossil fuel companies and police unions, and voting against reversing the racist “war on drugs,” we are not confident that Padilla is ready to fight for us.

To ensure that his appointment is not a step backwards, Alex Padilla must, at a minimum, follow Kamala Harris’s example and commit to:

Then, to win the support of young people of color and adequately represent one of the most progressive States in the nation, he must persistently fight for transformative solutions to the major racial, economic, and environmental crises of our time. Anything short of this will put Sunrise hubs within and beyond California in the familiar position of mobilizing for a primary to elect proven Green New Deal champions.

As for Newsom, we promise to hold him accountable for his appointments. He has the chance to clarify his commitment to our vision by filling the expected vacancies before him with bold, progressive champions. Our message to the Democratic establishment remains the same: Step Up or Step Aside.

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We’re the Bay Area hub of Sunrise Movement — building an army of young people to stop climate change and create millions of good jobs in the process.

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