Governor Gavin Newsom’s selection of Alex Padilla, a Pacoima-raised son of working-class Mexican immigrants, to represent California in the U.S. Senate is being celebrated by many Latino and Latina leaders. One in three residents of California identifies as Latino or Hispanic, but he will be the first Latino to ever represent the state in the Senate.
“Alex is a role model to so many Latino youth in our state, and I know that his appointment as our senator will show every Latino child that anything is possible in our nation,” Lucille Roybal-Allard, who represents portions of East and South Los Angeles in Congress, told NBC News.
The Latino Victory Fund was among the groups that lobbied for the selection, launching a “Pick Padilla” campaign months before it even became clear that Harris would win, focusing on what they saw as a record of successful leadership, from his time in the L.A. City Council to his term as Secretary of State.
“We congratulate Secretary Padilla on his appointment to the United States Senate. This marks a long-overdue milestone for the Latino community, and it’s a bold step towards having a Senate that looks like the communities it serves,” the group’s president and CEO, Nathalie Rayes, said on Tuesday. “His appointment will not only increase Latino representation in the Senate, but it will also open the door for future generations of Latino leaders. With Secretary Padilla in the Senate, Californians will have a long-time champion for working families, a dedicated public servant, and an effective legislator to speak up on their behalf.”
Domingo Garcia, National President of the League of United Latin American Citizens, was eager to “join the chorus of praise” for the Secretary of State.
“It is an historic selection at an historic time for Latinos in the United States. Governor Newsom deserves credit for realizing that Latinos are the largest voting force in California,” Garcia said. “LULAC looks forward to working with him on vital national issues confronting Americans, including more than 60 million Latinos.”
A press statement from the L.A.-based Hispanas Organized for Political Equality (HOPE) described Padilla as “an ally” and “longstanding supporter,” and highlighted his work on issues facing the community such as education, environmental justice, civic engagement, and combating discrimination.
“We are certain that Secretary Padilla will serve as the United States Senator for California with the strong leadership and steadfast commitment to equity and justice that is needed to move our country forward.”
Even Estuardo Rodriguez, the President and CEO of Friends of the American Latino Museum–a new Smithsonian museum honoring Latino history, the construction of which was just approved in the omnibus spending bill–chimed in to note the synchronicity of Padilla’s announcement falling on the very day his museum was approved by Congress.
“It is the validation that we are, and have always been, instrumental in the strength and success of our nation,” Rodriguez shared. “The idea that we are a patch on the American quilt is a fallacy. We are an integral thread throughout. Naming of Secretary Alex Padilla today has continued the celebration and embrace of not only our role in American history, but in its future.”
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