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Will She Or Won’t She?

Kamala Harris, Popular but Untested, Flirts with a Presidential Run

By Evan Gahr

Kamala Harris looks set to test the presidential waters.

California Senator Kamala Harris, a much-hyped but utterly untested possible 2020 Democratic presidential nomination contender, said this weekend she would decide over the holidays whether to make a White House bid.

“It’s a very serious decision.  Over the holiday I will make that decision with my family,” Harris told “Morning Joe” co-host Mika Brzezinski at the Know Your Value women’s empowerment conference in San Francisco.

Harris, who is of Jamaican and Indian descent, depicted her potential candidacy as something that would break barriers and therefore get nasty.

“Let’s be honest. It’s going to be ugly. When you break things, it is painful.  And you get cut. And you bleed.”

Harris has already been acting like a presidential candidate. According to POLITICO, in October, she donated “$25,000 to the Democratic parties in all four early nominating states: Iowa, South Carolina, Nevada and New Hampshire.”

And this July, she joined the ranks of other prospective candidates who either have published books or have them coming out.  She signed a deal with the prestigious Penguin Press for a book that sounds like the typical mix of autobiography and policy prescriptions White House aspirants invariably publish.

Called The Truths We Hold: An American Journey, Harris, according to Penguin, is going to be “reckoning with the big challenges we face together, drawing on the hard-won wisdom and insight from her own career and the work of those who have most inspired her.”

Last month, political fortune tellers Harry Enten and Chris Cillizza of CNN ranked Harris as the top presidential candidate, arguing that, “Harris looks like the right fit for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary voter. She’ll be well-funded. She’s demonstrated her chops in high-profile tests—flashing her prosecutorial experience (she’s the former California attorney general) during the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh. Harris has been seen as a 2020 candidate since the day she announced she was running for the Senate. It now not only looks like she will make those expectations come true, but that she will start the race in a very strong position.”

But is she really so strong?

More sophisticated observers note that Harris, who previously served as California Attorney General and San Francisco District Attorney, is utterly unproven on the national level.  As Democratic consultant Darry Sragow told POLITICO this October, “The realities are that when somebody has as little experience as she has on a nationwide stage, the question is what happens when she gets punched in the gut? What happens when she’s in tough situations? How does she handle the give and take of running for president of the United States?”

Similarly, this August Sonoma State University Political Science Professor David McCuan told CaliforniaGlobe.com that Harris “hasn’t had the harsh glare of the national media spotlight on her, nor has she had to make a tough call in a political context. She hasn’t had to make a tough political call that disappoints a constituency or interest group.”

Evan Gahr

Evan Gahr was the Washington Gadfly columnist for the Daily Caller and press critic for New York Post editorial page editor Eric Breindel.

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