NATIONWIDE — Joe Biden jolted the nation to attention when he picked Kamala Harris to be his running mate in the bid for the White House on Tuesday.
You likely know Harris is the former contender for the Democratic nomination, a U.S. senator from the state of California, and, as Biden promised his running mate would be, a woman of color.
Here’s what you may not know:
- We know more about the role hormones play in breast cancer because of her mother, scientist Shyamala Gopalan Harris, who passed away in 2009.
- There’s a BMW in Harris’s past. Harris’s relationship with former Mayor Willie Brown — and the costly gift — was used against her during her bid for the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. Opponents argued it proved she'd show favoritism to her ex. The former San Francisco mayor may reappear in coming months. Brown’s already urged Harris not to accept the nomination. But in 2003, neither he nor the BMW prevented Harris from securing the office she sought.
- San Francisco remembers Harris for the work she did defending trafficked children — fighting for decriminalization of sex workers — and survivors of domestic abuse. The cofounder of Harris’s San Francisco’s Coalition to End the Exploitation of Kids has thrown her support behind the VP nominee.
- Cocaine was once a problem, but not in the way you might think. As San Francisco’s district attorney, Harris was found to have violated defendants’ rights by hiding damaging information about a police drug-lab technician caught skimming cocaine from the lab.
- Harris became the nation’s first Asian-American vice presidential candidate Tuesday. Her mother was a Tamil Indian-American and gave Harris a Sanskrit first name that means “Lotus.”
- Harris’s top ally as California Attorney General was Maryland’s, and Joe Biden’s late son, Beau. In 2011, Beau Biden backed Harris as she investigated foreclosure abuse and questioned a proposed settlement. "We had each other’s backs," Harris said about Beau.
- As attorney general, Harris also defended California’s death penalty, urging a court of appeals judge to overturn a lower court’s decision to invalidate it in 2014.
- Harris became the second Black woman in history to be elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016. The first was Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun. Harris is the only Black woman currently serving in the Senate.
- She earned national attention during Brett Kavanaugh’s U.S. Supreme Court confirmation hearing for her blunt questioning of the controversial candidate.
- Harris’s presidential campaign unraveled quickly under pressures to define her message and unite a staff less than pleased with its management. But its highlight moment was when she held her ground and delivered a firm message to fellow Democratic candidate, Joe Biden.