U.S. Senator Bob Menendez praised appointment of Alex Padilla to replace Kamala Harris in the United States Senate, bringing the number of Latinos in the Senate next year to six.
“There is power in numbers, and with the largest number of Latinos ever serving in the Senate, I am incredibly optimistic we will forge even stronger ties between the Senate Democratic Caucus and the Latino community in the United States,” Menendez told the New Jersey Globe.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced today that Padilla, the 47-year-old son of Mexican immigrants, would fill the seat left vacant next month when Harris resigns to become Vice President.
“From his time in the L.A. City Council and California State Senate, to his most recent service as NALEO’s National President and California’s Secretary of State, Alex Padilla has never forgotten his roots as the son of Mexican immigrants,” Menendez said. “He has dedicated his career to fighting for hard-working families and creating a California that is inclusive of all people. I look forward to welcoming Alex to the Senate. He will help achieve the goal of ensuring our community is represented during every debate in Congress.”
Also on Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate Dr. Miguel Cardona, the Connecticut Commissioner of Education of Puerto Rican descent, as the U.S. Secretary of Education.
The pick won the quick commendation of Teresa Ruiz, the chair of the New Jersey Senate Education Committee.
“He is a Puerto Rican educator with hands-on knowledge and on the ground experience in our education system,” Ruiz said. “His scope of work has been clearly aligned with my legislative priorities, including efforts to implement diverse curriculum, improve teacher diversity, close the achievement gap and ensure annual assessments to gauge learning loss.”
Padilla will join Menendez, Catherine Cortez Mastro (D-Nevada), Marco Rubio (R-Florida), Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Ben Ray Lujan, a Democrat who won an open U.S. Senate seat in New Mexico, in the Senate.
The California Democrat will become the 11th Latino to serve in the U.S. Senate.
The first was Octaviano Larrazolo (R-New Mexico), who served from 1928 to 1929.
Dennis Chavez (D-New Mexico) served from 1935 until his death in 1962. Another New Mexico Democrat, Joseph Montoya, was a senator from 1964 to 1977. Mel Martinez (R-Florida) served 2005 to 2009, and Kenneth Salazar (D-Colorado) from 2005 to 2009.