Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris’ star appears to be dimming as other Democrats rise past her while she struggles to gain a footing among likely voters.
The junior U.S. senator from California was one of the first Democrats to launch a White House bid, raising at the time an astonishing $1.5 million in just 24 hours while attracting tens of thousands of supposed supporters to a rally in Oakland.
The 54-year-old former state attorney general and San Francisco district attorney — who succeeded Democrat Barbara Boxer in the Senate in 2017 — was viewed as a frontrunner in the 2020 race thanks to her progressive bona fides and effective opposition to President Trump since moving to Washington. Meanwhile, her stint as a DA, while criticized by progressives, was seen as a way to appeal to more moderate voters.
But four months into her campaign, Harris is returning to Los Angeles for the annual state Democratic Party convention no longer as a frontrunner.
Political experts told the Los Angeles Times that part of the reason why Harris’ campaign has stalled is that she has failed to make a succinct case for her candidacy, beyond her background as a prosecutor and virulent opposition to the Trump administration.
“You don’t get elected because you’re a list of qualities,” Gil Duran, a former Harris adviser, told the newspaper. “What’s the big idea she’s carrying? That’s what she’s trying to figure out. She’s having trouble figuring out what she represents.”
“You don’t get elected because you’re a list of qualities. What’s the big idea she’s carrying? That’s what she’s trying to figure out. She’s having trouble figuring out what she represents.”
Latest polls were particularly troubling to Harris, with former Vice President Joe Biden and Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont fighting for the title of party frontrunner.
Both Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Pete Buttigieg — the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who’s surging despite being virtually unknown just a few months ago — are polling better than Harris.
In fact, according to the Morning Consult poll tracker, Harris’ support peaked just weeks after her announcement, with 14 percent of Democratic voters throwing their support behind her in a Feb. 3 poll. Since then, her support has halved to 7 percent.
But more evidently, the momentum behind her campaign has evaporated while other candidates have solidified their support and may be poised to expand further nationally.
Yet supporters of Harris suggest that her campaign is in the exact right spot at this time — still able to compete and fundraise without the burden of being a frontrunner.
“I don’t think anyone ever thought she would get in the race and blow away the field and be a frontrunner from January 2019 through Election Day,” Brian Brokaw, who managed Harris’ runs for state attorney general, told the Times.
“She needs to stay in the upper tier, which I think she is. Stay in striking position and you outlast everybody.”
Harris recently made a number of comments about policies that are supposed to solidify her progressive stances, including fining corporations that don’t take steps toward closing the gender pay gap.
The senator’s plan, touted by the Harris campaign as “first-of-its-kind” and “historic,” if passed into law, would mandate that large corporations obtain “equal pay certification” from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Companies failing to land a certification would face fines – for every 1 percent wage gap, they would be fined 1 percent of their profits.
In a separate proposal, Harris also said that she will use executive orders to mandate background checks on the private transfers of guns, revoke the licenses of gun makers and dealers whose guns are used in crimes, and ban the importation of many semi-automatic guns.