She’s being called the “Great Freshman Hope” for the Democratic Party. Kamala Harris is only seven months into her new position as senator for the state of California, but she’s made more headlines and drawn more fanfare than many senators who have been in office for decades.
Harris, 52, started out as a prosecutor and then became attorney general for California before being elected to the national Senate in the most recent election, becoming the first black female Senator since 1999.
It was recently revealed that she has become the Democrats’ top fundraiser for the year. Harris has accrued $1.6 million in online donations since election day and $600,000 of that has already gone to 23 fellow Democrats facing reelection campaigns.
She gave, instead of her own victory speech or even a consolation speech for those of her supporters disappointed by the presidential election, a rallying cry that started her on her accelerated path to recognition and Twitter stardom, as well as her fundraising super power.
Since the election, her digital staff report that her mailing list has grown at least 1,000%.
According to the San Francisco Chronicle, “last July she had 134,865 Facebook followers. She has five times that many today. A year ago, she had 53,873 Twitter followers; today she has 10 times as many.”
In an age where the slogan for Trump and GOP opposition is “resist” her popularity can be strongly linked to her “forceful” opposition of 18 out of 22 Trump cabinet nominations. She also gained respect and virality when she brought her prosecutorial talents to the Senate Intel Committee’s Russia investigation, particularly with known racist and sexist Attorney General Jeff Sessions when he testified about his interactions with Russian officials.
“A TV audience of 20 million saw how she used her questioning of former FBI James Comey to build a case that Sessions acted inappropriately during investigations into Russian interference in the U.S. election,” as well.
She went viral again in the style of Elizabeth Warren, who gained plenty of attention when she was silenced during Jeff Sessions’ nomination hearing for reading a Coretta Scott King letter written about sessions decades ago. Warren’s reading of that letter, which called Sessions out for his treatment of Civil Rights protesters and his involvement in voter suppression of black people, was met with a vote to disallow the continuation of her speech. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated: “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech. She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”
“Nevertheless she persisted,” became another “Resistance” slogan, and also catapulted Warren’s fundraising ability and popularity with the Democratic base.
Harris was also shushed as well as being interrupted by her male colleagues. “during her pointed questioning with the Senate Intelligence Committee of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,” who was being questioned as to his involvement in Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, Senators John McCain and Richard Burr “interrupted Harris and chided her for not allowing Rosenstein to answer a question fully. Burr did the same thing when Harris questioned Sessions.”
As The Chronicle put it, “apparently that kind of insolence isn’t tolerated from women in the old white guys club known as the U.S. Senate.” Her exchange with those senators as well as her eye rolls and facial reactions were shared thousands of times as soon as they hit the Twitter-sphere.
That Internet popularity, as well as the fact that “she speaks like an actual human being,” according to one MoveOn.org representative, has contributed to her rocket-ship trajectory.
Last month she also made a playlist for Black Music Month that cemented her role Senate wunderkind.
She’s not done yet, either.
Page Six from The New York Post is reporting that Senator Harris is scheduled to meet with major Democratic donors, who have previously donated to the presidential bids for both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, in the Hamptons this weekend.
Though she has denied any hopes for a national bid anytime soon, the rumors grow every day that she could be one of the Democrats’ top picks for a 2020 bid to take back the White House.
She is said to be attending multiple events in the swanky Hamptons area, meeting with top donors, including members of the Democratic National Committee and a Washington lobbyist.
According to a “Democratic insider” quoted by Page Six, “Kamala is the big Democratic star right now, at a time when they badly need a star. She’s coming to the Hamptons to meet key people as she takes a national stage, and expands her influence and ambitions.”
What that influence and those ambitions may turn out to be, time (and Twitter) can only tell.