California's first Latino senator: Why the alt-left is big mad at Newsom's historic choice

Credit: Alex Padilla, Twitter.

California Governor Gavin Newsom has chosen our state's Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, to be California's next senator, filling the seat currently held by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

It's absolutely the right choice, and Newsom's decision has received near-universal praise from progressive circles. Padilla, who will make history as the first Latino to represent California in the United States Senate, was a pioneer in implementing universal vote-by-mail in California even before the pandemic hit and championed the environment and public health when he was a state senator. Like his predecessor, Padilla is also a child of two immigrants. In a state that is almost 40% Hispanic, the representative history is also long overdue, as was clear from the emotional video call during which Gov. Newsom made the official ask of Secretary Padilla.

While rejoicing is the consensus emotion among progressives across the country, some Bernie Sanders fanatics and peacock progressives have a bone to pick. Several, actually.

First, they are upset, upset, upset that Padilla supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary in 2016. They are also upset that as Secretary of State, Padilla followed California law on primary voting both in 2016 and 2020. Jordan Chariton, a well-known social media personality, protested Padilla's appointment by stirring up old conspiracy theories about the 2016 Democratic primary, which Hillary Clinton won.

Rep. Barbara Lee, for her, responded to Newsom's appointment by heartily welcoming it and congratulating Padilla, calling Padilla a "steadfast advocate for justice.". Chariton is wrong, of course. Padilla followed the law.

In California, those who are registered without a party must request a presidential primary ballot of the party primary they wish to participate in, provided that the party allows such participation (the California Democratic Party allows it). In a Trumpesque argument, Sanders supporters claimed that since millions of "no party preference" voters in the state did not automatically receive a Democratic ballot - which they could not since the Secretary of State's office had no way of knowing which primary those voters wanted to vote in - it "stole" votes from Sanders. And since in 2016 Hillary Clinton defeated Bernie Sanders in the state's primary, they asserted - just like Team Trump - that the election was rigged and it was really Sanders who had won.

Adamant Bernie true believers were so upset over the 2016 primary they believed - without evidence, like Trump supporters - was stolen from their candidate that they sought to intimidate Secretary Padilla by showing up with blowhorns at his family's home in the middle of the night.

The second uproar about Padilla's appointment harkens back to Padilla's days as a state senator, and he stands accused by the alt-left of "killing" single-payer health care in California.

Padilla was indeed one of the Democrats to abstain from voting on Senate Bill 810, a California single-payer bill that failed to advance after the vote. SB810 had sprung just two years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act. Enactment of the legislation would have, at a minimum, bolstered GOP's hands against Obamacare by amplifying its argument that the ACA was ill-conceived and not needed. At worst, it may well have denied California major funds as part of the ACA (certainly Republicans would sue to make it so), and California focused instead on fully implementing Obamacare. Because of Obamacare - and because California was able to implement it without being hampered by a law which could have turned away ACA money - California's uninsured rate went from 17% to 7% in just five years.

Gov. Gavin Newsom and the state legislature in California doubled down on our success by enacting legislation to use state funds to increase premium tax credits and impose a statewide individual responsibility provision. Our reforms led to lower costs for consumers and increased coverage.

There can be little doubt that pushing for single-payer - something that failed to work or garner public support when put to voters in Vermont and Colorado - was the wrong move for California in 2012, and in retrospect, Padilla's vote looks pretty good.

Gov. Newsom chose a trailblazer, a pragmatic leader, and a visionary. California will be well-represented in the Senate by Senator-designate Alex Padilla, no matter what the peacock progressives think.

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