Kamala Harris is California attorney general

By Arun Kumar, IANS
Tuesday, November 30, 2010

WASHINGTON - Four weeks after election day, Democrat Kamala Harris, daughter of an African American father and Indian Tamil mother, finally sealed a narrow but historic win making her the first woman attorney general of California.

“I stand before you today humbled to be chosen to be the next attorney general of this state,” Harris said, her voice breaking with emotion as she spoke to supporters at the Millennium Biltmore in downtown Los Angeles.

“I pledge and make a pledge to work hard every day to make sure the law of this state is on the side of the people of this state,” she was quoted as saying by the Los Angeles Times.

Harris, 46, currently the San Francisco district attorney, defeated Republican Steve Cooley, Los Angeles County’s district attorney, who had prematurely claimed victory on election night, only to concede the race Wednesday after weeks of ballot counting gave Harris a slim lead.

Her final lead stands at 75,000 votes out of nearly 8.8 million votes cast. Official results are due Friday.

Born and raised in the East Bay, Harris is the daughter of of an African American father and Shyamala Gopalan, a Tamilian breast cancer specialist who came to the US from Chennai, to pursue her graduate studies at the University of California Berkeley.

In December 2003, she became the first woman to be elected District Attorney in San Francisco’s history.

A recipient of numerous awards, she was recognized as a ‘Woman of Power’ by the National Urban League and received the Thurgood Marshall Award from the National Black Prosecutors Association.

She has also been featured on the Oprah show and in Newsweek as one of “America’s 20 Most Powerful Women.”

Last year, she was named by the New York Times on a list of 17 women most likely to become the first lady President.

Harris’ win cemented a Democratic sweep of every statewide post in California, a remarkable feat in a year when Democrats suffered deep losses in the rest of the nation.

Harris, who has pledged to follow the law in capital-punishment cases despite her personal views, cast herself as “smart on crime” and called for new approaches aimed at reducing recidivism and prison overcrowding.

Asked to reflect on the meaning of her historic win - as the first woman, African American and Indian American elected to the post - Harris smiled brightly and said, “We’ll see!”

She will succeed Attorney General Jerry Brown, former Oakland Mayor and California Governor, who made another run for Governor this year and won again

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at arun.kumar@ians.in)

Filed under: Immigration, World

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