Senate watchers have had a busy week. On Monday, South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed Congressman Tim Scott to the Senate, making him the first African-American senator from the South since 1881. As it stands now, Scott will be the only African-American serving in the Senate in January.
On the same day, Sen.r Daniel Inouye of Hawaii died at age 88. Inouye served as President Pro Tem of the Senate, which made him the highest-ranking Asian-American elected official in the country. Before his death, Sen. Inouye asked Hawaii's governor to appoint Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa as his successor. If appointed, Hanabusa would be one of two female senators from Hawaii, both of whom are Asian-Americans.
Assuming that John Kerry is confirmed as the next secretary of State, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will have the opportunity to appoint yet another new member to the Senate. Lots of names are being rumored to be under consideration, to include actor Ben Affleck, former Gov. Michael Dukakis and Vicki Kennedy, widow of deceased Sen. Ted Kennedy.
Another name under consideration by Gov. Patrick is Setti Warren.
Setti Warren is the mayor of Newton, Mass. A native of Newton, Warren is a graduate of Boston College and was elected mayor in 2010. He worked in the Clinton White House for four years before being named New England regional director for FEMA in 2000. Warren worked on Sen. Kerry's presidential campaign and ultimately became the deputy director of his Massachusetts office. Warren left Kerry's presidential campaign in 2007 to serve as a naval intelligence officer in Iraq.
Definitely sounds like the resume of someone who should receive serious consideration for a Senate appointment.
Here is one more fact: Setti Warren is the first popularly elected African-American mayor in the state of Massachusetts.
African-Americans make up 1.5% of the population of Newton. African-Americans make up 6.7% of the total population of Massachusetts. Setti Warren was not elected mayor of Newton because it is a suburb of Boston dominated by African-Americans. Warren was elected mayor of Newton because he was able to articulate compelling ideas and offer real solutions to the problems the citizens want solved.
Though Warren is a Democrat, his political position mirrors that of Republican Senate appointee Tim Scott in some respects. Like Scott, Warren holds fast to a set of principles that he strongly believes and consistently expresses. As a result, Warren has been rewarded with a broad base of support throughout Massachusetts.
The composition of America is changing rapidly. The Census Bureau estimates that by 2040, the term "minority" will no longer be an accurate label for Americans of African, Asian and Hispanic descent.
However, the composition of the Senate seems slow to reflect these changes. Of the 100 current senators, 96 are Caucasian, two are Asian-American and two are Hispanic. When the Senate convenes in January, we know that one African-American, Senate appointee Tim Scott, will be added to that group. I hope Massachusetts Democrats will take the opportunity to add one more African-American to the Senate by appointing Mayor Setti Warren.
Karl Douglass, Columbus native and resident, is a frequent commenter on local, state and federal politics. Follow him on Twitter@KarlDouglass or facebook.com/karldouglass.