When Los Angeles City Council member Marqueece Harris-Dawson started working at the coalition in 1995 at age 25, he didn’t know Bass. But he knew the liquor stores he’d been told to avoid his whole life were closed.
“It was very meaningful for me because you hear a lot of political talk, particularly post-1992,” he told the Associated Press recently, referring to the year of the Los Angeles riots that followed the trial of white police officers in beating of Rodney King. “Those things never get done. Here was Karen, quietly setting up goals (and) knocking them down.”
Those goals would lead her to the state Assembly, where she would become the first Black woman to ascend to the role of Speaker, in 2008.
Bass’ Assembly tenure coincided with the Great Recession, and it was underpinned by her own legislative pushes on foster care legislation and healthcare reform.
Both issues remained with her as she made her way to Congress, where as chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus she’s also pushed hard on criminal justice reform and amid the nation’s recent social unrest she called for greater law enforcement accountability.
“She’s very much somebody who was out ahead of her time trying to forge multi-racial coalitions,” said Jaime Regalado, professor emeritus of political science at Cal State Los Angeles.
California’s continued blue-ness has coincided with Bass’ rise — forging a bastion of progressive support, Regalado said.
While she may have been relatively lower-profile on the national scene, she’s really not any more. Her profile heightened after the death of George Floyd, when she led a push to reform law enforcement.
“I think that has effectively changed,” Ridley-Thomas said on Bass’ more subdued pre-COVID rise. “That’s yesterday’s news.”
In the dwindling days before the Democratic National Convention, South Los Angeles Congresswoman Karen Bass has emerged as a top-tier contender to be likely presidential candidate Joe Biden’s running mate for the White House.
Perceived by national pundits as a Biden “short list-er,” Bass, 66, is in her fifth term in Congress representing the 37th Congressional District, which includes South L.A., Crenshaw, Baldwin Hills, Miracle Mile, Pico-Robertson, Century City, Cheviot Hills, West Los Angeles, and Mar Vista.
She is up for re-election in November. But while she’s risen to the top of the Black congressional leadership in those years, observers say her low-amp, bridge-building approach has become an ideal fit for a Biden ticket.
Bass has been relatively silent on her prospects, but the Democratic lawmaker told the Associated Press this week that “I have historically, for the last four or five decades, focused on building coalitions and building bridges between ethnic groups, between political ideologies. I’m a very goal-driven person; I am focused on getting stuff done. And I am willing to work with whoever, whenever, however.”
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Pundits say Bass, along with former national security adviser Susan E. Rice, has risen to the top of Biden’s list of formidable contenders, which also includes Sen. Kamala Harris — briefly a contender for the top of the Democratic ticket herself — and wounded combat veteran Sen. Tammy Duckworth, of Illinois, according to in-the-know media reports.
Another former presidential candidate, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, is also thought to be on the short list, as well as Florida Rep. Val Demings and Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms.
The Washington Post cited that Bass has turned up the heat in anti-President Donald Trump rhetoric recently, which may indicate she’s serious about the VP slot. The New York Times credited her rise in part to “an intensive lobbying drive by her fellow House Democrats” that left the former vice-president’s search committee “impressed.”
Bass’ contender status, in general, appears to be fueled by a robust, though controversy-free career and a reputation as a bridge-builder — though tenure in Congress was devoid of any presidential aspirations of her own. Her consensus-forging skills are regarded as crucial considering the polarized state of U.S. politics these days — and it helps that she is well liked, experts and observers say.
“She relates to people well, and has exhibited a remarkable degree of resilience in her own life,” said L.A. County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas, who has known Bass for decades, from when he was a school teacher and when she was a physicians assistant. “She is not overly ambitious. She did not seek this. It sought her.”
Former Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez, a close friend of Bass’, told the Associated Press that she’s been “properly vetted.”
Nuñez …read more
Source:: Los Angeles Daily News