Kamala Harris brings the prosecution legacy to the Biden ticket, good or unhealthy

Kamala Harris made a career delving into issues and renaming herself while moving from prosecutor to lawmaker. Now the Democratic vice-presidential candidate must bounce back from her hardened law enforcement record to become an agent of change in the age of racial justice protests.

At 55, Harris brings relative youth, deep electoral experience, and a reputation for challenging Republican candidates such as Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh and Attorney General William Barr to the Biden campaign.

She is expected to continue the attacks on President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, as she has for months as a front runner to be Biden's runner-up.

The two Democrats will perform at their first joint event in Delaware on Wednesday. A photo by the Biden campaign photographer showed former Vice President Harris said she had been selected for a video conference, a sign that the coronavirus pandemic has overridden even the most important events of the presidential campaign.

As a presidential candidate last year, Harris criticized her track record as district attorney in San Francisco and attorney general in California, including attempts by her offices to block offers for freedom from men of skin color who had been wrongly convicted of crimes. She said she worked to thread the needle between the tenacity of law and order and a protective instinct for those who needed it.

"Good or bad, Kamala built its brand on being the best policewoman," said Steve Phillips, a San Francisco fundraiser who hosted a podcast called Democracy in Color that supported Harris' first attorney general campaign .

The Republicans were quick to respond, branding Harris as part of a "left" mob they say "controls" Biden's campaign. The Trump campaign posted an attack notice within an hour of the announcement and adopted the nickname “Phony Kamala,” which matches her nickname “Sleepy Joe” Biden.

Harris dropped out of the president's race ahead of the first primaries in December and approved Biden in March.

If elected, Harris will have the infrastructure and resources to have a head start on any future presidential campaign, whether or not Biden is looking for a second term at 82.

Police reformer

Your enthusiastic acceptance of police reform in the months since the protests sparked by George Floyd's death in police custody, including co-drafting a Senate law to ban police custody and other measures to curb law enforcement, may have contributed to vaccinating The Biden Campaign against criticism of their prosecutor's office, say some strategists.

“Has Kamala Harris been on the right side of criminal justice reform throughout her career? Absolutely not, ”said Terrance Woodbury, a Democratic pollster with Hit Strategies in Washington. "But I think her experience, the combination of things she's done right and wrong, makes her a tremendous asset to a Biden government in terms of the numbers problem for its most loyal constituents."

Harris is the child of immigrants. Her father was from Jamaica and her mother from India. This made Harris the first black woman and the first Asian-American woman to receive a presidential ticket to a major party. She is accused of fueling excitement for Biden among black voters and women, both important demographics for any Democratic candidate.

"She's not the traditional African American candidate," said Fernando Guerrra, pollster and professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. “Your entire political career has been based on being a crossover candidate. That makes them more attractive to non-African Americans, and that was their key to success. "

Progressive prosecutor

Harris first won the elected office by portraying the incumbent District Attorney of San Francisco as "anti-crime" before later branding himself as a "progressive prosecutor" in the Democratic presidential primary. She was an opponent of the death penalty who challenged a decision that could have ended the death penalty in California as attorney general. She said she wanted to reform the system from within.

"I made a very conscious decision to become a prosecutor," Harris said during a panel discussion in June about police reform following Floyd's death. "Because I said," Why do we just have to be outside trying to knock down the doors to change the system? "

Forbes estimates her net worth with husband Douglas Emhoff at $ 6 million. Assets include homes in Washington, San Francisco, and Los Angeles valued at approximately $ 5.8 million before mortgages. According to Forbes, they also have retirement accounts worth at least $ 1.4 million and accounts associated with law firms that Emhoff has worked for that are worth at least $ 1 million.

She's been tough on Wall Street and in the financial sector at times too. Among other things, she is known for an agreement with banks after the 2008-2009 financial crisis, in which she advocated tougher conditions.

"Kamala came from the school of thought that the government must save Wall Street from itself," said Eleni Kounalakis, the Democratic lieutenant governor of California, an early supporter of Harris' presidential campaign. "I know she values ​​competition and entrepreneurship, and I know she will hold big companies accountable too."

Harris was elected San Francisco District Attorney in 2003 and served until 2011 when she became the California Attorney General. As San Francisco's chief prosecutor, she increased the office's conviction rate from 50% when she took over to 76% by 2009. She also lost black support by threatening parents of chronically pregnant children with prosecution and jail.

As attorney general, Harris oversaw California's bank mortgage policy litigation and entered into multi-stage settlement negotiations with Bank of America Corp., Citigroup Inc., and other lenders to compel banks to increase their offerings. Initial offers of $ 2 billion to $ 4 billion in assistance to California homeowners rose to over $ 20 billion as Harris sought misrepresentation relief on mortgage-backed securities sales on behalf of major state pension funds.

She was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016, defeating Democratic Representative Loretta Sanchez for the seat vacated by retired Senator Barbara Boxer.

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