With his mother’s Bible in hand and his political mentor at his side, Alex Padilla on Wednesday became the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate.
The COVID-19 pandemic and security concerns following the Jan. 6 siege of the Capitol kept Padilla’s wife, Angela, and three sons from attending.
“It breaks my heart to not have my family at my side when I raise my right hand. It’s a big moment,” Padilla said in an interview beforehand. “It was tricky enough trying to think through how do we travel as a family cross-country during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay healthy. But with the events of the 6th and the security measures being put in place, it just made sense for the family to stay back.”
Along with newly elected Georgia Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock, Padilla, 47, was sworn in by the woman he replaced, Vice President Kamala Harris, who was the second Black woman and first South Asian to serve in the Senate, hours after she was sworn in. The three Democrats bring their party the slimmest of majorities, a 50-50 tie counting independents who caucus with the Democrats, with Harris serving as tiebreaker.