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California Political Observers Still See National Potential For Kamala Harris

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Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images
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Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris, D-Calif., speaks during a television interview after the second night of the first Democratic presidential debates in Miami.

Kamala Harris officially ended her Democratic presidential campaign Tuesday, but California political observers said the U.S. Senator could still have a long and formidable career ahead. 

Mike Madrid, a Republican political consultant, said Harris will escape some damage by getting out early and avoiding possibly embarrassing losses in early states, including her home state. 

“I think she’s got the opportunity to kind of rebuild,” Madrid said. “But I think, at least for the moment, the shine on her national star has lost some of its luster. I don’t think there’s any debate about that.” 

After a strong start this spring, Harris’ poll numbers plunged to single-digits over the summer and fall. A recent poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies showed 61 percent of likely Democratic primary voters thought Harris should quit the race, according to the Los Angeles Times

Still, Sacramento-based Democratic consultant Robin Swanson said Harris’ career could take off again.

“I think she’s repositioned herself very well to be a vice presidential running mate,” Swanson said. “But I also think if that isn’t what her next step is, she’s very clearly positioned to be attorney general of the United States. We saw here, she was attorney general in California before she was United States senator. So, I think there are lots of options for her. And I think she knows that.” 

Swanson said the fact that Harris is a woman and African American — and relatively young at 55 — could complement a ticket if an older white man such as Joe Biden becomes the Democratic presidential nominee. 

If during a future election Harris wants to make another White House run, Madrid said she has work to do. 

“I think she’s going to have to start really defining and building a reputation for at least one, perhaps two issue sets in the U.S. Senate," he said. "The opportunity is there certainly on foreign policy issues.” 

Shawnda Westly, a Democratic political consultant based in Sacramento, said Harris’ political future “is extremely bright,” noting the senator has only been on the national scene for about two years. 

“She’ll learn the hard lessons this campaign taught her,” Westly said. She added Harris now has valuable experience running a national race.  

"And that will serve her well in any future campaign,” she said.

Harris was elected to the Senate in 2016. She’ll be up for re-election in 2022. 

December 26 is the deadline for presidential candidates to remove their name from the California ballot, according to the Secretary of State’s office.

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