California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris demurred Sunday when asked about a potential run for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer, saying she was focused on her current job as she held a swearing-in celebration in downtown Los Angeles.
"I am just enjoying this day, thank you," she told The Times after giving a short speech at the City Club about her goals in her second term as the state's top law-enforcement officer.
But Harris' presence in Los Angeles, before a crowd heavy with dignitaries, spoke to the 50-year-old's attempts to increase her profile in the city that is home to millions of voters. If Harris mounts a 2016 Senate bid or a gubernatorial run in 2018, she would need to raise her profile in the region.
Polling by The Times and USC Dornsife in October found that she is less well known in Los Angeles and the greater Southern California region than in her home in the Bay Area.
Harris has been splitting her time between Los Angeles and San Francisco since marrying a Los Angeles-based attorney last year. During her reelection campaign last year, she aired advertisements in Southern California, despite the fact that she was cruising to victory over an unknown and unfunded opponent.
Luminaries in Harris' audience Sunday included former Gov. Gray Davis, Secretary of State Alex Padilla and Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell. The room was abuzz about whether she would run for Senate, but she did not broach the matter during her remarks.
Instead, she touted her achievements and her plans for the future, such as addressing elementary-school truancy and a broken child-welfare system.
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