While California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) faced protests at her town hall meeting at First AME Church in L.A.—even from members of her own party—freshman Sen. Kamala Harris’ star keeps rising.
The former California Attorney General, elected to Congress in November, was embraced with open arms by the liberal group Indivisible and hundreds of constituents at Holman United Methodist Church, also in L.A.
“I like her,” said Stephen Carcieri of Indivisible Los Angeles. “She’s been pretty good on the votes.” Feinstein has been criticized for not doing enough to advance the progressive agenda.
Harris is said, by some, to be on the short list of potential Democratic nominees for a White House run in 2020.
“I come to you with bloody knuckles but I am going back (to Washington) fortified,” Harris said.
Harris is no stranger to fighting. In 2010, she fought tooth and nail, narrowly defeating former L.A. County District Attorney Steve Cooley in the tight state attorney general’s race. In November she won Senate race against Loretta Sanchez by nearly 25 points.
At Holman, health care was the main concern, along with Trump’s immigration policies and criminal justice. She vowed to oppose the president’s proposed wall along the Mexican border, and called it a “stupid use of money.”
“We are not going to buy into this administration’s fear mongering and vilifying whole communities of people,” Harris told the crowd. “I’ve personally prosecuted everything from low level offenses to homicides. I know what a crime looks like and an undocumented immigrant is not a criminal.”
She also warned that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions wants to reinstate some of the harmful drug policies of the past, and is pushing for harsher penalties for minor drug offenders. This, she said, would add to mass incarceration for people of color.
“We need to watch this [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions, who is talking about resuscitating all this. We have come too far to go back, to go backward on fundamental criminal justice issues, like whether or not this is a public health matter or a criminal justice matter,” she said.
By contrast, Sen. Feinstein was met by a group of protestors outside AME, waving signs to pressure her into supporting Sen. Bernie Sanders single payer health care bill. One sign read: "Support Bernie's bill or retire, Feinstein!"
The senator admitted being heckled at a Bay Area town hall. "We had one of these town halls last week in San Francisco and it got kind of rough," she said. "I thought, well, today I'm going home to First African Episcopal Methodist, which was one of the first L.A. churches I visited in my career in the Senate."