In an interview, Mr. Padilla said he was overwhelmed with emotion on Monday evening when the governor offered him the position on a Zoom call.
“There is a lot of work to get to, of course, but I couldn’t help but think of my parents, who came here from Mexico in pursuit of the American dream,” he said.
“All I ever heard as a child was work hard, study hard, and all I ever wanted to do was honor their sacrifices.”
Mr. Padilla, an ally of the governor throughout his political career, has held public office since 1999, when he was elected at 26 to the Los Angeles City Council; he went on to serve two terms in the State Senate and then two terms as secretary of state, heading the office that runs California’s elections.
“Through his tenacity, integrity, smarts and grit, California is gaining a tested fighter in their corner who will be a fierce ally in D.C., lifting up our state’s values and making sure we secure the critical resources to emerge stronger from this pandemic,” Mr. Newsom said. “He will be a senator for all Californians.”
The decision followed months of deliberation by Mr. Newsom and lobbying by California’s myriad political factions for a position whose occupant will need not only the experience to work effectively in Washington, but also the money and political base to hold the seat in 2022, when Ms. Harris’s term ends.
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