California Sen. Kamala Harris announced Jan. 21 on "Good Morning America" that she was running for president in 2020, a move that could make her the first woman and woman of color to serve as U.S. president if elected.
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Name: Kamala Devi Harris
Date of birth: Oct. 20, 1964
Hometown: Oakland, California
Family: Wife to Douglas Emhoff and daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father
Education: She graduated from Howard University in 1981 with a degree in political science and economics. She later earned her J.D. from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law in 1989.
What she does now: She was elected as a U.S. senator representing California in 2016, and serves on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, the Select Committee on Intelligence, the Committee on the Judiciary and the Committee on the Budget.
What she used to do: Served as the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017. Served as the district attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2010. Prior to that Harris worked for San Francisco's City Attorney Louise Renne as the chief of the Community and Neighborhood Division and as the deputy district attorney in Alameda County.
Key life/career moments:
Beginning her career as the deputy district attorney in Alameda County, Harris specialized in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.
She was the first African-American woman to be elected district attorney of San Francisco.
Harris was also the first woman, first African-American and first Asian-American to serve as California's attorney general, and refers to herself as a "progressive prosecutor."
While Harris personally opposes the death penalty, she promised to defend it as California's attorney general in 2014, and appealed a federal judge’s decision that it was unconstitutional. Harris also won a $25 billion settlement for California homeowners hit by the foreclosure crisis, but refused to prosecute Steven Mnuchin's OneWest Bank for foreclosure violations in 2013.
Where she stands on some of the issues:
Harris has proposed executive actions to counter gun violence including banning assault weapons and near-universal background checks administered by people who sell over five guns a year. Gun manufacturers and dealers who fail to comply would have their licenses revoked.
She has said that she supports Medicare for all but her recent proposal allows for a role for private health insurers as long as they abide by federal government regulations. She is opposed to tax increases on middle-income Americans and supports a slower transition to her version of the single-payer system which would take 10 years instead of the 4 years proposed by Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Harris is also in favor of decriminalizing marijuana at the federal level and has proposed regulating marijuana and expunging prior marijuana convictions. This is in contrast to her previous positions on the issue. From 2011 to 2017, under her purview as attorney general of California, tens of thousands of residents in the state were arrested annually for marijuana infractions, according to a 2016 Drug Policy Alliance report. She said "times have changed."
Harris was one of the biggest fundraisers in the first quarter but finished behind South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, former Vice President Joe Biden, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders in the second quarter, raising $11.8 million from 279,000 donors, according to her campaign. She has $13.2 million cash on hand after the second quarter.
What you might not know about her:
Harris is the daughter of an Indian mother and Jamaican father, and is the second African-American woman and first South Asian-American senator in history.
In Sanskrit, her name means "lotus."
She is the author of a memoir, "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey," and the children's book, "Superheroes Are Everywhere." Harris credits her late mother, Shyamala Gopalan Harris, with empowering her to look for solutions. "I was raised that, when you see a problem, you don't complain about it, you go and do something about it," Harris said in a "Good Morning America" interview.
Harris chose to announce her campaign on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, citing the civil rights leader as an inspiration. Her campaign colors -- yellow, red and blue -- are a homage to the campaign of Shirley Chisholm, the first Black woman ever to run for president from a major party.