Willie Brown Advises Ex-Girlfriend Harris to Reject VP Slot

San Francisco mayor Willie Brown celebrates his victory alongside then-girlfriend Kamala Harris on December 12, 1995 / CONTRA COSTA TIMES/ JON MCNALLY
August 10, 2020

Former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown says ex-girlfriend Sen. Kamala Harris (D., Calif.) should decline Joe Biden's offer to be his running mate if it is offered, calling the position a political "dead end."

"Being picked for the vice presidency is obviously a huge honor, and if Biden wins, Harris would make history by being the first woman to hold the job. But the glory would be short-lived, and historically, the vice presidency has often ended up being a dead end," Brown wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Harris, who is 31 years Brown's junior, dated him in the mid-1990s when he was speaker of the California State Assembly. While they were dating, he appointed Harris to the high-paying California Medical Assistance Commission and Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board. Harris split up with Brown shortly before he became San Francisco mayor in 1996.

Brown suggested Harris seek the position of attorney general if Biden wins instead, repeatedly citing its "power."

"The attorney general has legitimate power," Brown wrote. "From atop the Justice Department, the boss can make a real mark on everything from police reform to racial justice to prosecuting corporate misdeeds. And the attorney general gets to name every U.S. attorney in the country. That’s power."

Harris was California's attorney general before winning a U.S. Senate seat in 2016, and her prosecutorial record came under fire during her unsuccessful bid for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination.

Biden has pledged his vice-presidential pick will be a woman, and Harris, former national security adviser Susan Rice, Rep. Karen Bass (D., Calif.), Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.), and Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer (D.) are those reportedly under serious consideration.

Harris briefly surged in the 2020 presidential race after she attacked Biden's racial record and position on "busing" last year, but her campaign never gained serious traction, and she dropped out in December.