No matter how much I’m sure she wishes he would, Sen. Kamala Harris’ ex Willie Brown, a former San Francisco mayor and California State Assembly speaker, will not go away.
Not long after Harris announced her presidential candidacy in January 2019, Brown – who is widely regarded in the state as being a kingmaker – wrote a column in which he all but bragged about his 1995 extramarital affair with Harris, who – unlike him – was not married at the time:
I’ve been peppered with calls from the national media about my “relationship” with Kamala Harris, particularly since it became obvious that she was going to run for president. Most of them, I have not returned.
Yes, we dated. It was more than 20 years ago. Yes, I may have influenced her career by appointing her to two state commissions when I was Assembly speaker.
A couple of weeks after his January 2019 piece discussing their relationship went viral, Brown stated in another piece that he probably put his foot in his mouth when he brought up the issue so soon after she had thrown her hat in the ring, quipping about how “if she gets elected, I’ll probably have to leave the country.”
Well, assuming the current results hold and Biden and Harris do end up being certified next month as the winners, Brown may want to go ahead and start packing his bags. Not just because of the possibility she’ll be vice president, but also because he’s elevated himself in yet another issue related to Kamala Harris – specifically, the person Gov. Gavin Newsom will name to replace her in the Senate:
Top Democratic donors and former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown are launching an aggressive campaign to fill Kamala Harris' Senate seat with a woman of color https://t.co/YvDOz8CY3r
— POLITICO (@politico) November 23, 2020
According to Politico, Brown has some specific women in mind:
Among the leading choices, [Brown] said, are Reps. Barbara Lee, Karen Bass and Maxine Waters; San Francisco Mayor London Breed; and state Sen. Holly Mitchell.
“There’s no way that Gavin Newsom should allow anyone other than a Black woman to fill the seat of Harris, who’s only the second Black woman in the history of the U.S. Senate,” Brown told POLITICO on Sunday. “There should be no contest.”
Politico did not reference their past relationship in their article, but it is well known. So much so that Brown’s insistence that Newsom choose a woman spawned many crude/off-color tweets from Twitter users, which I won’t share here. Considering Brown’s and Harris’ storied history, I don’t really need to:
In 1995, she began dating Brown, then Assembly speaker and one of the most powerful men in California politics. Brown put Harris on the state Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board and the California Medical Assistance Commission, part-time posts that supplemented her prosecutor’s salary with nearly $100,000 in extra annual pay.
The December night Brown was elected mayor, Harris joined him at center stage in a longshoremen’s union hall and gave him a blue cap that said, “Da Mayor.”
One thing not mentioned in most pieces you’ll read on Brown’s dating relationship with Harris is that Brown has been married since 1958 to Blanche Vitero, though they are have reportedly been estranged since 1981. And Harris and Brown remained political allies even after they split up shortly after his 1996 mayoral inauguration, according to the LA Times.
It was interesting to see Brown downplay their history after his article last year went viral, as if to suggest it was no big deal to give his mistress at the time two cushy appointments and a 1994 BMW, and introductions to valuable political players.
Understandably, Harris detests when the subject is brought up, as she made clear in this 2003 interview with SF Weekly:
She acknowledges that Brown is an “albatross hanging around my neck” and fears that voters who dislike him will ignore her candidacy — even as she dismisses such an act as irrational. “Would it make sense if you are a Martian coming to Earth that the litmus test for public office is where a candidate is in their relationship to Willie Brown?” Harris asks. “Willie Brown is not going to be around. He’s gone — hello people, move on. If there is corruption, it will be prosecuted. It’s a no-brainer, but let’s please move on.”
It’s pretty clear Brown himself has no intentions of “moving on” thanks to continually making himself the center of attention when it comes to political issues that involve Kamala Harris. As I said earlier, he better hope he’s got those bags packed and tickets purchased to another country. Because she’s got a vengeful streak a mile long, and Brown may just very well find himself moving up on her Enemies List very soon.