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Will Kamala Harris’ Past Help or Hinder Biden?

Kamala overcame her controversial past to join the Senate, but can she handle national scrutiny as Biden’s running mate?

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Kamala Harris, the junior senator from California, has been chosen to run as Joe Biden’s vice president in the 2020 presidential election. Senator Harris, formerly one of the major opponents of Joe Biden during the Democratic Party primaries, has been on Biden’s shortlist for the vice presidency since dropping out of the race. Her background as a prosecutor bent on improving the justice system has given her a commanding presence in American politics. On the other hand, this has garnered both positive and negative attention to Biden’s campaign for the presidency.

A Controversial Political Past

Since the start of her political career, Kamala Harris has found herself surrounded by controversies regarding her rapid rise to political prominence. Harris was hired as a deputy district attorney in Alameda County, California, after graduating from law school and passing the California Bar in 1990. At this time, Harris was in a relationship with California Assembly Speaker Willie Brown, who later became the mayor of San Francisco. Harris would eventually be appointed to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission during the relationship, raising eyebrows about Harris’ qualifications for the jobs.

Harris was recruited as an assistant district attorney in San Francisco. This role gave her the experience needed to eventually make a run for district attorney of San Francisco in 2003. Harris’ campaign was getting money from Mayor Willie Brown through a PAC. This made her a prime target for criticism, and many said she was elevated in her career by the influential politician. Despite these claims, Harris would go on to win the campaign by focusing on the failures of her predecessor’s policies.

What Does She Stand For?

Throughout most of her career, Harris has touted herself as a legal hardliner bent on reform. She oversaw an increase in drug conviction rates in the city from 56% to 74%. While many approved of her tough-on-crime stance, she has lost support from some groups due to her harsh stance that put a lot of black Americans in prison.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris

Upon becoming attorney general of California in 2010, Harris pursued her unique agenda for the state. Harris began pushing for substantial penalties for school truancy being unaddressed by families. Many opponents argued that this effort disproportionately targeted minority families, who often could not keep track of their children’s attendance due to their more burdensome work commitments. Harris also made a massive push for police reform in the state, driving the state to become the first in the United States to require all police officers to wear body cameras.

Senate Legacy

Since being elected to the Senate, Kamala Harris has been one of President Trump’s fiercest critics. Unlike many legislators who lack a presence, Harris has always commanded attention, leaving many of the president’s appointees and advisers stammering in the face of her harsh interrogations. The Democrats could always count on her to make a strong case against the Republican opposition.

At the same time, Senator Harris has gained a reputation for putting on an act to garner votes. Her stance against drugs and truancy during her time as an attorney general has left her open to attack from some. Will her fierce, fighting spirit will help Biden’s campaign or hurt it?

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Jose Backer, General Assignment Reporter, is a graduate of St. Michael's College and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree in Political Science. Born and raised in Southern California, he currently resides in the Pasadena area.

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