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Pretender or Contender? How Many Totally Organic, Not At All Planned Viral Moments Will It Take To Get Kamala Harris Into The Oval Office

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This piece is part of an ongoing series looking at the Democrats who are hoping for the chance to take on Trump in 2020

Name: Kamala Harris, former California Attorney General and current junior Senator from California

Hometown: Harris is a native of Oakland, CA and a professed fan of Too $hort, meaning she will likely be the only candidate asked whether she would support legislation that promotes “fucking with some sluts tryin to bust a nut.”

Significant legislative accomplishments: As Attorney General of California, Harris fought hard to ensure that only the strongest and most physically fit prisoners would be deployed to fight forest fires. She also used those same prisoners to create probably the sexiest calendar in the history of the California penal system.

Key constituencies: White women who feel very guilty about the fact that they don’t have any black friends, people who liked Obama because he put out decent playlists, private prison developers.

Why she can win: If there is one candidate who is poised to inherit Hillary Clinton’s mantle of millennial relatability and deliver their own “Pokemon go to the polls” moment, it’s Kamala Harris. Within 48 hours of launching her campaign, she had already come out with a hip, relatable mood mix video that name dropped A Tribe Called Quest and Beyonce, as well as a completely organic viral moment of the Senator dancing to Cardi B. Harris’s modern taste in music will be a breath of fresh air for millennial voters in comparison to Joe Biden’s Pat Boone and Everly Brothers dominated playlist. The Senator’s relatively short-lived tenure in the Senate also makes her somewhat of a blank canvass for voters, and allows her to adopt whatever policy positions are trending on Twitter at the time without facing accusations of being a flip-flopper.

Why she’ll lose: If there was a human version of the “hire more women guards” tweet, it would be Kamala Harris. She came up in politics as a tough on crime prosecutor, and her past has come around to haunt her amongst the two dozen Jacobin subscribers who dominate left-wing Twitter. Should skepticism around Harris’s past record translate from Twitter into the real world, it could become a real liability for her in the primary. Harris also has a lackluster electoral track record in past campaigns. In 2010, she significantly underperformed Jerry Brown at the top of the ticket when she ran for California AG, and in her 2016 Senate race, her opponent Loretta Sanchez ran such an uninspiring, incompetent campaign that by the final debate she was dabbing on stage in a desperate attempt to get any attention whatsoever. It remains to be seen how she’ll hold up when she gets grilled by the sharpest, most adversarial political interviewers of our time like Craig Kilborne and the Jon Save America team.

Pretender or contender?: Harris has launched what is undoubtedly the most impressive campaign roll-out of any of the 2020 candidates so far. She raised over $1.5 million in the first day of her campaign and has already hired an impressive roster of experienced Democratic operatives. Her relatively unimpressive standing in early polls is mostly due to low name recognition, a problem that will be quickly remedied with tens of millions of dollars in paid media spending and millions more in earned media as she attempts to become the first black woman to become a major party nominee. She is popular among women, black voters, and Democratic Party insiders, and right now may have the strongest chance of any of the formally announced candidates.