"You don't want someone who has no electoral experience whatsoever. I think that's a risk," he said. "It would be good if they had a sort of background that, even though they may not be well-known to the public here in California, you could justify as qualifying to be in the U.S. Senate."
Newsom could draw from current Latino leaders
Roger Salazar, a Sacramento-based Democratic media strategist, doesn't envy the position Newsom is in. Salazar said it would be wise for Newsom, who is known to make historic appointments, to choose a Latino to fill Harris' seat.
While Latinos have made strides in the state Legislature and represent 40% of the population, California has never elected a Latino to the U.S. Senate in its 170-year history.
"It would be wise to have somebody in the U.S. Senate who can sort of see and represent the needs of such a huge population in California," he said, especially as California Latinos continue to be disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.
The pressure for Newsom to select someone from the LGBT community may be "somewhat relieved," according to Salazar, after he appointed the first openly gay justice Martin J. Jenkins on the California Supreme Court in October.
Salazar said Attorney General Xavier Becerra, with his previous experience as a congressman, and Secretary of State Alex Padilla are both worthy candidates.
Padilla is "the kind of person that has the gravitas, that has the temperament," he said. "When you look at him it's like, 'All right, he's got the complete package to make an outstanding U.S. Senator.' "
If Newsom selects Padilla for the position, Salazar said it could open up the opportunity for Newsom to choose his replacement as secretary of state. He noted Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, who is a contender in the 2022 California secretary of state race, would make a historic appointment as a Latina.
Will personal histories play a role?