By Brian Henry
Now that Kamala Harris, a freshman senator and recent entrant to national politics, has joined the already-crowded 2020 race for president, political watchers are eager for clues about her ability to maneuver a high-stakes election. But Senator Harris has minimal experience on the national stage ー so her track record in California as an Attorney General will be essential evidence to Democratic voters.
"Her list of legislative accomplishments is rather thin," said Joe Garofoli, senior political writer at the San Francisco Chronicle.
"When you look at her AG career, she was sort of a mix of being bold and yet cautious and innovative," Garofoli told Cheddar.
One of her biggest victories came during the mortgage crisis. Harris pulled California out of the nationwide mortgage settlement talks.
"That was a gutsy move for a first term attorney general, California ended up with $20 billion dollars," Garofoli said.
As Attorney General, Garofoli said Harris also took a unique approach to criminal justice reform.
"She's offered implicit bias training at the Department of Justice and she focused on things like truancy issues. Most criminals are dropouts and she said, 'let's examine the root cause of this.'"
That victory aside, Harris has been criticized for neglecting to use the power of her office to investigate police shootings in California, and leaving it up to the locals instead.
Should she clinch the nomination, Harris will likely face questions over her record as San Francisco's District Attorney.
Harris, who opposed capitol punishment, chose not to pursue the death penalty after a police officer was shot in the line of duty by a gang member.
"There was a lot of blow back from law enforcement," Garfoli said. "You know President Trump is going to go after this one day one."
Even still, Harris' background gives her a distinct advantage over her progressive opponents.
"She's half-Indian American and her father was born and raised in Jamaica. She's the child of immigrants. She's a different face for voters, not just for Democratic voters but for all American voters."