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Kamala Harris: 10 things you might not know

Harris currently has one of the Senate's most progressive voting records but has also come under scrutiny over her time as prosecutor.
Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., walks through the Iowa State Fair on Aug. 10, 2019.Caroline Brehman / CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images file

You may already know Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., is the first Black woman and the first Asian American woman to be chosen as a major party's vice-presidential candidate. But did you know she is also the first person from a state west of Texas to ever appear on a Democratic ticket?

Tapped on Tuesday to be former Vice President Joe Biden's running mate, Harris has served in the Senate since 2017 following a six-year stint as California's attorney general and seven years as the San Francisco district attorney.

Though she ran an unsuccessful presidential campaign last year, many Americans will just now begin to become more familiar with Harris' life and political beliefs.

Here are 10 things you may not know about the junior senator from California:

She has one of the most progressive voting records in the Senate

While Harris and Biden are sometimes thought to be ideologically similar, trackers have consistently rated her voting record as one of the most progressive in the U.S. Senate. ProgressivePunch rates her as the fourth-most-progressive member of the Senate, ahead of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.

Her first campaign featured an opponent weighed down by the "Fajitagate" scandal

When Harris first ran for San Francisco district attorney in 2004, she faced off against two men: the incumbent, Terence Hallinan, and lawyer Bill Fazio. Harris would finish second in the initial election before besting Hallinan 13 points in the runoff.

One of Hallinan's weak spots was his handling of "Fajitagate" — which began with a 2002 street fight between three off-duty police officers and residents over a takeout bag of fajitas. Hallinan charged the city's police chief, Prentice Sanders, in connection to the ordeal, only to later drop the charges once he was unable to prove a cover-up effort. The episode helped pave a path for Harris' eventual victory.

Trump has made campaign donations to Harris

The president made two donations to Harris' California attorney general re-election campaign. The first was in 2011, when Trump donated $5,000. In 2013, Trump sent the Harris campaign $1,000. Meanwhile, in 2014, his daughter Ivanka — now a top White House aide — donated $2,000 to the then-state attorney general.

Harris was close with Biden's late son Beau

As state attorneys general in California and Delaware, Harris and the younger Biden, who died of brain cancer in 2015, developed a close friendship and worked together on issues, particularly those pertaining to the big banks following the financial crisis of 2008.

"There were periods, when I was taking the heat," Harris wrote in her 2019 memoir, "when Beau and I talked every day, sometimes multiple times a day."

She was a contender to serve as Obama's attorney general

Harris would ultimately say she was not interested in succeeding Eric Holder after he announced he was stepping down in 2014. Obama later selected Loretta Lynch.

She has received strong criticism over her background in law enforcement

Some progressives have taken umbrage with Harris casting herself as a "progressive prosecutor," pointing to a number of her actions as San Francisco district attorney and as California's top cop. In the Senate, she has become a leading voice on criminal justice reform and helped author Democrats' police reform bill earlier this year.

She made headlines for grilling Trump administration officials and nominees

Harris has put her prosecutorial chops to use in a number of high-profile committee hearings, going viral for her questioning of Attorney General William Barr and then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

She loves french fries

She does a keen impersonation of her Jewish mother-in-law

She does not have a pet but is fond of dogs