indica News Bureau –
Ahead of her pending decision on 2020 US presidential run, Indian-American Senator Kamala Harris appointed Sri Lankan American Rohini Kosoglu as her next Chief of Staff.
Kosoglu, who is currently the California Democratic Senator’s deputy chief of staff, replaces Nathan Barankin, a longtime aide and veteran of California politics.
According to an aide, Barankin will be joining Harris’ political operation, advising her Fearless for the People PAC.
A graduate from the University of Michigan with a Master’s degree in Legislative Affairs, Kosoglu has served as a legislative aide on Capitol Hill since 2006. She first worked with Senator Debbie Stabenow, D- Michigan, and later with Senator Michael Bennet, D-Colorado.
“Rohini has been an invaluable leader on our team as we’ve fought for our shared values and the best of who we are as a country during these first two years,” Harris said in a statement released on December 18.
Kosoglu told media that part of her job as chief of staff will be to keep the senator’s door open to young people.
The promotion makes Kosoglu the only Asian American woman currently serving as a Chief in the Senate. The daughter of Sri Lankan immigrants is a legislative and policy expert with more than a decade of Senate experience.
She has managed legislative activity involving landmark laws, including the Affordable Care Act, during her time in the Senate.
“I definitely try to prioritize if any women, particularly women of color … just want to meet to talk about how to move up on the Hill or they’re interested in working on the Hill,” Kosoglu had said in an interview with Roll Call earlier this year.
According to a 2017 report released by Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer, most senators from the party employ women staffers, and an overwhelming number of staffers are white.
Harris’ office, on the contrary, employed the second-highest number of people of color, behind only Hawaii Senator Brian Schatz’s office.
Apart from Kosoglu, three more South Asian-Americans on Capitol Hill – Saikat Chakrabarti, Gautam Raghavan and Ven Naralla – are set to hold the top job in legislative offices in the incoming 2019 Congress.
The key staffing change comes a few weeks after one of Harris’ top aides, Larry Wallace, resigned after revelations that he was involved in a harassment lawsuit and $400,000 settlement while working for the state Department of Justice.
Harris is considered a top-tier candidate in what is likely to be a crowded Democratic primary field in 2020. According to a report published in Politico news, she got the fifth position as a preferred nominee by the Democratic voters who can challenge President Trump’s re-election bid in the next presidential elections.