Go back to last year, the beginning of this presidential contest. Before the primaries, before Joe Biden stumbled out of gate and then recovered in South Carolina. Before any debates, back when Biden was considered a solid front runner in the Democratic Party to take on President Donald Trump. Many pundits and observers expressed the idea that a Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket seemed ideal. Now, through all the ups and downs of primary campaigns, the deal is sealed. 

Tapping Harris adds not just the senator from California to the ticket, but California itself and what the majority party here likes to call “California values.” (It would be more accurate to label the current politics in the Golden State “California values of the moment.” Just 25 years ago, California values would have been tax cuts and tough on crime.) The question is how California’s liberal policies, which Harris represents, play in the swing states that will determine the election.

More immediately, how will Harris’s politics and history play within the Democratic Party. While the progressive wing of the party has raised concerns about Harris’s record as a prosecutor in an era influenced by talk of social justice reform, I doubt her history will handicap Harris with the general electorate. Middle of the road voters are not embracing a defund the police ethos and recent polls indicate Black voters support an effective police presence in their neighborhoods. How Harris deals with the hard left-wing of her party will be worth watching. 

For California, Biden picking Harris will stir the political pot. There has been much conjecture who Gov. Gavin Newsom might pick to replace Harris if the ticket wins. That speculation also came from me. Lobbying for the position goes into high gear now for any number of ambitious Democrats. I’ll stick with the choices I suggested a month ago and say, if it comes to that, Karen Bass and Alex Padilla have an excellent shot.

There is a lot to come in the campaign and California will now get an unusual amount of attention, something rare in presidential campaigns since the California vote is assured for the Democratic nominee. Harris is the first Californian on a major party presidential ticket since President Ronald Reagan’s re-election 36 years ago, quite a gap for the most populous and influential state in the country.

Before the campaign gets into full swing, a remembrance of the political fates that brought Harris to this position of prominence. Despite the seeming inevitability of a Biden-Harris ticket a year ago, Harris being in this place was not certain as she moved up the political ladder.

Remember, that Kamala Harris didn’t win her first race for California Attorney General in 2010 until weeks after the polls closed. Her Republican opponent, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, on election night declared himself the winner as did some press reports. It wasn’t until three weeks later that Cooley conceded the race. Harris won 46.05% to Cooley’s 45.28%. 

Harris was on her way. Sometimes these close calls means a few votes here or there changes the course of history.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the only person elected president of the United States four times, won his first quest for office as a state senator in New York by a few votes to the surprise of many because he ran in a Republican district. His victory was thanks in part to his Roosevelt name and the country’s affection for his cousin, former president Theodore Roosevelt, who encouraged his cousin to seek office. FDR was on his way, eventually to the White House.

Will Harris’s close call allow her ultimately to follow in FDR’s footsteps? She attempts to take the next step November 3.