It doesn't take a lot of imagination to think of Kamala Harris as an aspiring governor. (After all, isn't that what the "AG" in front of her name really
stands for?) But in February, Thomas Goldstein managed to ratchet up the chatter quite a bit when in his widely read SCOTUSblog
he suggested that Harris could easily end up as a U.S. Supreme Court justice. His reasoning went like this: Suppose in November Barack Obama does win a second term as president, and that a vacancy on the high court materializes soon thereafter. Wouldn't the president be strongly inclined to nominate a highly intelligent woman of color between the ages of 42 and 52? Goldstein thinks so. What's more, he thinks that among those who would fit that bill only Harris "truly stands out."
Harris is 47 years old now and is about to reach the year-and-a-half mark in her tenure as the attorney general of California. And even though she won her current job by a margin of less than one percent of the vote, her political stock these days appears to be soaring.
Harris is smart, poised, and some would even say glamorous. She is also someone who knows how to play hardball, as demonstrated last September when she rejected a proposed nationwide settlement reached with the country's largest banks over alleged foreclosure abuses. After four more months of negotiations, she and other holdout states were able to cut a better deal that not only adds billions more to the settlement package, but also denies the banks immunity from prosecution under California's False Claims Act.
Still, for all of the favorable attention that she has received in recent months, Harris as AG has rarely agreed to sit down for an in-depth, wide-ranging interview. And when writer J. B. Powell
sought just such an exchange for this month's cover story ("Kamala Harris Makes Her Move"), he ran into a wall of resistance from her staff. "I was surprised both by how difficult it was to get access to her, and by how overprotective her press people were," Powell confides. "It was as if they all felt they were on this rocket ride, and didn't want to take any chances at all with a reporter who wanted to interview her in an unstructured way."
After lobbying her office off and on for the better part of nine months, Powell finally was granted the interview he wanted - even if it was scheduled for just 30 minutes.
"You know," Powell notes, "when you have to work so hard to reach someone, you naturally assume that she's going to be aloof and looking at her watch all the time when you finally get in to talk to her. But she wasn't that way at all. Which again made me wonder why her press people made it so difficult."
On another note, I'm pleased to report that California Lawyer
has won two Maggie Awards from the Western Publishing Association for its journalism in 2011. For best profile, the Maggie went to Tom McNichol'
s story about Del Norte County District Attorney Jon Alexander, who, before landing his current job, struggled with a life-threatening methamphetamine habit ("The Comeback"). And for best news story, the top prize went to Matthew Heller
's piece about sex-tort litigation ("Dangerous Liaisons
," February 2011). Congratulations to all!