By Joel Pollack
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) dropped out of the 2020 presidential race because she could not fire her sister.
That is an overly simplistic assessment — but not by much.
Maya Harris, the senator’s younger sister, is widely regarded as a brilliant attorney, but that did not make her a great campaign adviser.
More to the point, it made Maya Harris nearly impossible to fire, which meant that Kamala Harris could not easily fix problems as they arose.
And the problems began early.
I covered my first Kamala Harris event in May, in Los Angeles, where she drew an impressive turnout for an “organizing” rally. Thousands crowded into a local community college to catch a glimpse of the home-state favorite. But the setup was odd, as I reported:
The crowd was placed to the side of the stage, meaning that Harris’s supporters were out of most camera angles during her speech. Speakers kept urging supporters to text “fight” to a devoted campaign number, but a sign on the podium told supporters to text the word “fearless.” And after several lively warmup speeches, the action paused for several minutes while Tina Turner’s “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” played over the PA system.
It was one of many squandered opportunities.
In Nevada, I followed Harris on a campaign swing through Las Vegas, Nevada. She seemed to have strong support among the Latino community — a key voting constituency in the state, and one that she had wooed successfully in her 2016 run for U.S. Senate in California, when she overcame Latina political superstar Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D).
Harris seemed to have no clear message. But voters seemed to cling to her every word.
Nevada is the third state on the Democratic presidential primary calendar, and the first with a significant Latino population. It is next door to California, giving Harris a potential advantage over her Democratic rivals in bringing volunteers across the border.
And yet for some reason, Harris chose to camp out in Iowa in recent weeks, rather than focusing on Nevada. She also failed to mobilize fully in California, which moved its primary to Super Tuesday to play a more decisive role. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who supported her, was about to travel to Iowa to campaign for her before she dropped out.
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