Kamala Harris opens presidential bid, plans campaign headquarters in Baltimore

Kamala Harris, a first-term senator and former California attorney general known for her rigorous questioning of President Donald Trump’s nominees, entered the Democratic presidential race on Monday.

Vowing to “bring our voices together,” Harris would be the first woman to hold the presidency if she succeeds.

Harris selected Baltimore for her campaign headquarters, with her staff citing the city’s diversity and proximity to Washington as factors in the decision. A campaign spokeswoman said Monday that she could not yet say where specifically in Baltimore operations will be located. Harris will also have an office in Oakland, Calif.

Harris’ announcement — and the choice of Baltimore for a headquarters — was greeted warmly by locals.

Howard County Councilman Opel Jones, who has endorsed Harris for president, said he was “extremely excited” about her campaign and the local connection.

“What an amazing time for the city,” Jones told The Baltimore Sun. “The strength and confidence she exudes and her formidable record as a prosecutor are exactly what the Democrats need in a nominee.”

Del. Robbyn Lewis, a Baltimore Democrat, tweeted she was inspired that Harris announced her candidacy on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

“Go, Kamala, go! We can't wait to welcome you to Baltimore! We're already organizing!” Lewis wrote.

Harris, who grew up in Oakland and is a daughter of parents from Jamaica and India, is one of the earliest high-profile Democrats to join what is expected to be a crowded field.

She made her long-anticipated announcement on ABC’s “Good Morning America.”

“I am running for president of the United States,” she said. “And I’m very excited about it.”

The 54-year old portrayed herself as a fighter for justice, decency and equality in a video distributed by her campaign as she announced her bid.

“They’re the values we as Americans cherish, and they’re all on the line now,” Harris says in the video. “The future of our country depends on you and millions of others lifting our voices to fight for our American values.”

Harris launched her presidential bid as the nation observes what would have been the 90th birthday of King, the slain civil rights leader. The timing was a clear signal that the California senator — who has joked that she had a “stroller’s-eye view” of the civil rights movement because her parents wheeled her and her sister, Maya, to protests — sees herself as another leader in that fight.

She is planning her first trip Friday to an early primary state as a declared candidate. Harris will attend the Pink Ice Gala in Columbia, S.C., which is hosted by a South Carolina chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which Harris pledged as an undergraduate student at Howard University.

She plans a formal campaign launch Sunday in Oakland.

Harris has made occasional appearances in Maryland politics, most recently endorsing Ben Jealous last summer during his unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign. She also appeared in 2017 at the NAACP convention in Baltimore, where she called for national reform of cash bail and other criminal justice issues. Baltimore State's Attorney Marilyn Mosby held a fundraiser in Los Angeles featuring Harris during Mosby’s re-election campaign.

Harris joins what is expected to be a wide-open race for the Democratic presidential nomination. There’s no apparent front-runner at this early stage and Harris will face off against several Senate colleagues.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and Kirsten Gillibrand of New York have started exploratory committees. Sens. Cory Booker of New Jersey, Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota are also looking at the race.

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who unsuccessfully sought the 2016 Democratic nomination, is considering a campaign. Several other Democrats have declared their intentions, including former Maryland Rep. John Delaney and former Obama administration housing chief Julian Castro.

Baltimore Sun reporter Luke Broadwater and The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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