Barbara Boxer’s lessons as she departs and Kamala Harris arrives

On Tuesday, Kamala Harris will take the oath of office to become California’s newest U.S. senator. We hope she has taken the time to soak up a little of the wisdom Barbara Boxer gained during her 24 years in the seat.


Ever since Harris won election Nov. 8, Beltway insiders have been chattering about her as one destined for bigger things. True enough, Harris is an intelligent and polished politician, who will challenge President-elect Donald Trump and Republicans, and be in much demand on the Sunday talk and cable news shows.

But her first job must be to deliver for California. In that role, Boxer can offer a few lessons.

Boxer, an unapologetic liberal, made her name by advocating for women’s health, gender equality, peace and minority rights. But her legislative achievements came on public works issues such as highway and water system funding.

When one thinks of Boxer and her many liberal causes, long-haul trucking does not come first to mind. But in an interview with a Sacramento Bee editorial board member, she recounted battles with a Southern state representative who would do the trucking industry’s bidding by seeking to insert language into transportation bills that would pre-empt state laws that require paid bathroom and lunch breaks for truckers.

Her answer would be: You want to kill the highway funding bill? And he would relent.

It’s the sort of insider issue that garners little attention, and definitely isn’t one that propels politicians to national prominence. But it is the stuff of serious legislating,…

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