Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) had been scheduled to participate in a question-and-answer session with the left-wing Working Families Party on August 22 as part of the organization’s endorsement process.
She did not attend, and as a result of missing the session—and not being able to reschedule before a planned endorsement vote next month—she is now out of contention for the party’s endorsement, as first reported by NBC News.
That same day, Harris did appear at two California fundraisers, respectively hosted by actress Jessica Alba and MGM Motion Picture Group President Jon Glickman and Bridgid Coulter, the CEO of Blackbird Collective, an outfit focused on providing workspaces for women of color.
Harris’ campaign told The Daily Beast that it did not miss the Q&A because of the fundraisers. But her scheduling choices still sparked confusion at the WFP.
“We don’t know how the campaign makes decisions,” Rob Duffey, national communications director for WFP told The Daily Beast. “We were willing to be flexible on time and locations, however, and we are disappointed they didn’t find a time to hear questions from our members.”
According to a source with the party who was familiar with the scheduling process, the group spent about a month trying to coordinate the session with Harris, even offering to do it in the Los Angeles area to accommodate her campaign schedule. According to a release sent out on August 12, the conversation was scheduled for 6:30 PM EST on August 22 and was to last for an hour. The Harris campaign canceled the WFP session two days prior to the day it was supposed to be taped. And a Harris spokesperson confirmed to NBC News that the Senator would not be able to do the Q&A prior to the group’s endorsement vote next month.
This is not the first time a Harris fundraiser has led to questions about campaign priorities. Two weeks ago, the Senator was accused of missing a climate forum to attend a fundraiser. She ultimately moved her schedule around amid the public outcry.
The Working Families Party is a left-wing political party that sprung up in New York in 1998, but has spread into active chapters throughout the country. It was first organized as a labor-backed coalition and has advocated for a $15 minimum wage and Medicare for All.
It’s unclear whether Harris’ careful co-opting of some of the party’s major progressive priorities would have won the party over, particularly as their members have a broad array of more historically progressive candidates from which to choose. Still, the Senator had been among six presidential contenders up for WFP’s endorsement. The other five, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and former Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro already conducted their Q&A’s with the group.
In the 2016 primary, WFP chose to back Sanders though they eventually supported Hillary Clinton when she became the Democratic nominee.