Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris Jumps Into 2020 Race

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -

First-term Democratic Senator Kamala Harris of California, a rising party star and outspoken critic of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, launched her 2020 campaign for the White House on Monday in an appearance on the ABC.

Harris, 54, the daughter of immigrants from Jamaica and India, enters the race with the potential advantage of being the Democratic candidate who looks most like the party’s increasingly diverse base of young, female and minority voters.

“Let’s do this, together. Let’s claim our future. For ourselves, for our children, and for our country,” Harris said in a campaign video that was released to coincide with her appearance on the ABC.

The announcement falls on Martin Luther King Jr. Day honoring the slain civil rights leader, and the day was selected as a reminder of the aspirational fight for progress, an aide said.

The former California state attorney general has become popular with liberal activists for her tough questioning of Trump administration appointees and officials, including Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, during Senate hearings.

Her campaign will focus on reducing the high cost of living with a middle-class tax credit, pursuing immigration and criminal justice changes and a Medicare-for-all healthcare system. She has said she will reject corporate political action committee money.

Harris’s campaign will be based in Baltimore, with a second office in Oakland, California. Her slogan will be “For the People,” in a nod to Harris’s roots as a prosecutor, aides said.

She will hold a launch rally in Oakland before the end of the month.

As one of the earliest congressional critics of President Donald Trump’s immigration policies, Harris has pushed hard for a deal to protect from deportation those immigrants who came to the country illegally as children, a group known as Dreamers.

Harris is the fifth Democrat to enter what is shaping up to be a crowded battle for the nomination to challenge Trump, the likely Republican candidate.

She and other Democrats will have to navigate the party’s debate about whether an establishment figure who can appeal to centrist voters or a fresh face who can energize its increasingly diverse and progressive base offers the best chance to beat Trump in 2020.

Harris, who made history in 2016 as the first black woman elected to the Senate from California, has embraced the party’s diversity ahead of a Democratic nominating campaign where minority voters and liberal activists are expected to have an outsized voice.

In the Senate, she has introduced a bill to give lower-income families cash payments and tax credits to help battle wage stagnation and rising housing costs, and has been a strong advocate of criminal justice reforms.

Harris launched a book tour in early January to promote a memoir, making a series of media appearances that helped bolster her visibility ahead of her campaign announcement.

Her campaign could be aided by the schedule for the state-by-state party nominating process that is scheduled to begin in February 2020.

The kickoff state of Iowa, which launched Barack Obama’s presidential bid in 2008, has a strong base of liberal activists, and the race will then quickly move to more diverse states such as Nevada and South Carolina. Her home state of California also has moved up its primary to increase its influence.

But political foes will pore over her record in California, where she has come under scrutiny for declining as attorney general to prosecute OneWest, the bank once headed by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, for alleged foreclosure violations.

Harris, who voted against Mnuchin’s confirmation as head of the Treasury, has said she “followed the facts” in declining to prosecute.