Gift that could keep giving: Kamala Harris endorses Oakland at-large candidate Derreck Johnson

Sen. Kamala Harris is on Joe Biden's short-list to be the Democratic vice-presidential nominee.

Oakland at-large City Council candidate Derreck Johnson received a major endorsement on Monday from Sen. Kamala Harris. And with Harris on the short-list to be Joe Biden’s vice-presidential nominee, the endorsement could loom even larger in the fall.

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“I’ve known Derreck Johnson for decades and I know that through his leadership and dedication he has made an incredible difference for the people in the community who need it most,” Harris said, in a statement. “There’s no one better to serve all of Oakland on the City Council at this moment than Derreck.”

Johnson, the Home of Chicken and Waffles restaurant owner in Jack London Square, caught the attention of Oakland politicos earlier this month when he reported mid-year campaign contributions of $114,000. Long-time Oakland City at-large Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan reported only $16,000 through June 30.

The Harris endorsement is not the only big-name backer Johnson has received in the early stretch of this campaign. Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks, and State Controller Betty Yee, a high popular figure among local Democratic Party officials, have previously backed Johnson.

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Oakland At-Large City Council candidates: Challenger Derreck Johnson and the incumbent Councilmember Rebecca Kaplan.

Despite the large disparity in campaign financing at this point and the growing roster of influential backers for Johnson, Kaplan has proven to be one of Oakland’s most popular elected officials for more than a decade, and the veteran of two successful re-election campaigns to the at-large seat and two strong runs for Oakland mayor in 2010 and 2014.

But the circumstance around the Harris endorsement add a unique angle to the at-large race in Oakland. Harris is said to be one of several potential VP choices for Biden, along with Rep. Karen Bass, Susan Rice, and possibly several other Black female candidates. Biden will make his pick in coming weeks.

The selection of Harris as VP would vault her endorsement of Johnson into another stratosphere, especially in a city where less than five percent of the electorate voted for Donald Trump in 2016.