When Joe Biden named California Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate on Tuesday, several members of the Santa Monica Democratic Club (SMDC) were ecstatic with glee, while the membership as a group expressed whole-hearted excitement to rally behind the finalized ticket.
“I think people would have thought it sounded like a Super Bowl victory or a World Series win. I was that excited,” said Nicole Phillis, member of the SMDC and Chair of the Rent Control Board, in response to Harris’s selection.
“I screamed out loud, I was so thrilled,” said Michelle Grant, who was a leader of Kamala for Santa Monica and a member of the SMDC. “She doesn’t take any malarkey from anyone, her positions on gay rights, on guns, on climate, all of it is so impressive.”
Kamala Harris is the first Black woman on a major party’s presidential ticket and has served as California Attorney General, California Senator, and San Francisco District Attorney. Harris was the biggest fundraiser in Santa Monica during the primaries, and after ending her own campaign last year, she now joins Joe Biden’s campaign. The Santa Monica Democratic Club believes she has what it takes to make it.
“100 percent unequivocally, they are the best ticket,” said Phillis. “If folks thought that there was a time when there was a better candidate, they had an opportunity to express that during the primaries. In the primary it was very clear that Joe Biden won the pick of the Democratic Party, and he made it very clear that his pick is Kamala. And now is the time for us to rally behind them.”
Jon Katz, the president of the Santa Monica Democratic organization, identifies as part of the farther left progressive wing of the Party. While his first choice was Karen Bass, he feels there is a lot of strategic value in the ticket.
“As I sat with the choice, I started to see the appeal of this ticket and I think it’s a winning one and will win over a lot of people who are actual swing voters,” said Katz. “I think that she will compliment Joe very well. If the down side of Joe Biden is that he is an old white guy from a past generation, then Kamala definitely helps to counteract that quite a bit.”
Harris has faced criticism from Democrats over her record on criminal justice and her inability to form a unified campaign identity to inspire people during the primaries. Several of the Santa Monica’s Democrats disagree with these indictments.
“All the garbage that she wouldn’t energize people was ridiculous and disproven the minute they raised $30 million in 24 hours,” said Grant, referring to the funds raised for the Biden-Harris campaign following her selection as VP candidate.
“To the folks who take issue with her record as a prosecutor, I would point them to the many public defenders who came out the day she was nominated and said she was one of the most progressive DAs when she was in San Francisco,” said Phillis.
Regardless of who they backed in the primaries, members of the SMDC agree that now is the time to rally whole-heartedly around the finalized Democratic ticket.
“In the last few years we’ve seen this trend where if you don’t get your first choice for president that means you trash the entire party as being a corrupt and a rigged system. This year with everything that is at stake it’s not even a question. You could have picked a much worse ticket than this and I still would have voted for,” said Katz. “When I have been calling and canvassing I ask people what’s the number one issue. I used to hear anti-war, or the environment, or the economy and the only thing people say now is beating Trump.”
In the run up to the election members of the SMDC will be participating in fundraising, phone banking, text banking, and postcard writing campaigns. SMDC will also be hosting a series of Democratic National Convention afterparties on zooms with special guests including elected Santa Monica officials and California Democratic Party officials. To get involved email: email@example.com.