Kamala Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff could also make history

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Some men might shrink into the shadow of a superstar spouse.Not Douglas Emhoff, the unruffled chief cheerleader of his wife, California Senator Kamala Harris. On Wednesday, she made history as the first woman of color to be appointed vice-president by a major political party. After his speech, a beaming Emhoff made his entrance, marching alongside another prominent plus-one – Jill Biden – on the stage of a convention hall in Wilmington, Delaware, to join their partners who make the one of the newspapers. Emhoff looked a little awkward at first, pulling the hem of his suit jacket. Then he kissed Harris, gave him a quick kiss, and the couple waved to the cameras.

When Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, introduced his running mate last week, he told Emhoff, “Doug, you’re going to have to learn what it means to be a barrier breaker yourself.

If Biden and Harris win in November, Emhoff would become the country’s first Second Gentleman.

It was an unlikely trip for the 55-year-old entertainment lawyer from Los Angeles, who now finds himself in the inner circle of a presidential campaign. Emhoff, who lives in Brentwood, has seen his national profile swell, with his own fan club, #DougHive – women delighted at the novelty of a man comfortably in the background in politics. He has over 250,000 followers on Twitter, where he identifies as: “Dad, husband @KamalaHarris, lawyer, aspiring golfer, justice and equality advocate.” His posts, sometimes addressed to #KHive, can tend towards the wacky.

For much of the past year, her cell phone featured a sticker that read, “A Woman’s Place is in the White House.”

“He’s been 100% in his wife’s corner and supports her in any way he can,” attorney Matthew Johnson, one of Emmoff’s closest friends, said in an interview. Since meeting Harris seven years ago, Johnson said, Emhoff has been “hit”.

Harris and Emhoff’s romance seems scripted by Hollywood. In some ways, it was.

Seven years ago, he was a divorced father of two and ran a respected Century City law firm with more than 60 attorneys. He had practiced law for two decades. Born in Brooklyn, he moved to California as a teenager (he has an older sister and a younger brother) and built up a solid good faith in Southern California: after attending Agoura High School and Cal State Northridge , he graduated from USC Law School.

Emhoff dealt with cases that weren’t particularly sexy: intellectual property disputes, false advertising, and copyright infringement. He has defended large corporate clients, including Walmart and pharmaceutical giant Merck. One of his most notable cases was a successful defense of Taco Bell’s advertising agency TBWA in the early 2000s after the fast-food chain criticized him for scamming the idea of chihuahua who joked “Yo Quiero Taco Bell” in TV commercials.

Over the years, Emhoff has built a reputation for gentleness with customers, listening patiently even when some “were a little irrational,” said Johnson, former chairman of the Los Angeles Police Commission and a partner at the Los Angeles Police Department. entertainment juggernaut. Ziffren Brittenham. Johnson said he often referred people to Emhoff in Venable.

“He would give customers this thoughtful, thoughtful advice,” Johnson said. “Sometimes he had to give them advice they didn’t want to hear.

In 2013, prominent filmmaker Reginald Hudlin and his PR wife, Chrisette Hudlin, were grappling with a complex legal issue. They went to Venable’s offices, where they met Emhoff.

“He impressed us with his ability to see the big picture and resolve conflict,” Chrisette Hudlin said in an email to The Times.

Hudlin then took a leap of faith. She gave Emhoff the cell phone number of her best friend, Harris, who was then attorney general of California. In his book, “The Truths We Hold,” Harris recounted the episode, “I was in the middle of a meeting and my phone kept ringing.” Harris wrote that after ignoring several calls from Hudlin, she finally called her back to check in.

“I just met this guy,” Hudlin told her friend. “He’s cute and he’s the managing partner of his law firm and I think you’re going to really like him. ”

At the time, Harris was in his late forties. She had never been married; Dating was difficult because of the demands of her high profile jobs, Harris wrote in her book.

Kamala Harris and Douglas Emhoff on their wedding day; they got married at the Santa Barbara courthouse.

(California Attorney General’s Office)

A few nights later, Emhoff texted Harris from an LA Lakers game. (Harris replied, “Go Lakers!” Even though she’s a Golden State Warriors fan.) Harris was in San Francisco, where she owns a condo, and they finally hooked up by phone and made a date for it. weekend, while she was planning to be in LA

“I will never forget it,” said Johnson, Emhoff’s friend. “The next day he called me and said, ‘You won’t believe who I went to dinner with last night? … Kamala Harris. And I said, “Get the f … out of here!” How did it happen?’ ”

Johnson had long been impressed with Harris and organized fundraisers for her. He blurted out Emhoff, “I love you like a brother, but Kamala is a serious person. You better not –

“And Doug said, ‘No, no, no. I am go out together Kamala, ”Johnson said.

Their relationship blossomed quickly. “He seemed really comfortable with himself,” Harris wrote. “That’s part of why I liked it immediately.

Harris and Emhoff will celebrate their sixth birthday this weekend. They were married at the Santa Barbara courthouse in a small family ceremony presided over by Harris’s sister, Maya Harris. In honor of Harris’ Indian roots, she placed a garland of flowers around her neck. And Emhoff, who is Jewish, celebrated in the tradition, stomping on a drink.

Chrisette Hudlin even said early on that she had “a furtive suspicion” that Harris and Emhoff would marry.

“They balance each other out well because they agree on the most important things in life,” Hudlin said. “They work hard, but they also know how to take the time to enjoy each other and their families.”

In March, Emhoff flew to Washington for a planned long weekend with his wife. Then came the shutdown of the coronavirus and he stayed with Harris at their home in DC, working remotely. In a video interview with a reporter from Ohio last month, Emhoff described the experience: “It’s surreal working from home with Kamala Harris. It definitely improved my game.

Over the past five years, according to Forbes, Emhoff and Harris have earned around $ 8.2 million, most of which came from his work at Venable and DLA Piper, the Century City company he joined in 2017. In the Harris’ recent disclosure form listed over $ 500,000 in advance payments. Forbes estimates the couple’s net worth at nearly $ 6 million. More than a third of that comes from the value of their three homes – in Brentwood, San Francisco and Washington, DC

The Biden-Harris campaign has refused to make Emhoff, or members of his family, available for interviews.

Emhoff spoke briefly at a meeting of the Democratic National Committee’s LGBT Caucus on Thursday, reading a prepared text.

“Being here on the presidential campaign trail talking about Joe and Kamala isn’t something I really expected to do,” Emhoff admitted.

“So a little bit of me. I was born in Brooklyn, grew up in New Jersey, then moved to Los Angeles in high school when my dad found a new job. I went to college and law school in Los Angeles, became Cole and Ella’s father.

Emhoff added that he has had “a great career as an entertainment lawyer,” but is now on leave from his current firm, DLA Piper, “so I can work full time to help Joe and Kamala to to win.”

He also mentioned their upcoming wedding anniversary, noting that after he and Harris got engaged, “I got a congratulatory message from none other than Joe Biden!” … Believe it or not, I still have this message recorded at home [voicemail]. »

“He’s just a wonderful guy: smart, tough and wise. He’s easy to talk and he’s also a great listener, ”said producer Matt Walden, a friend of Emmoff for nearly 30 years.

Prior to the pandemic, Walden and his wife Dana Walden, president of Disney and ABC Entertainment television studios, enjoyed occasional dinners with the couple at popular Westside hangouts, including Toscana in Brentwood. (Decades ago, Chrisette Hudlin introduced Dana Walden to Harris while Harris was a prosecutor. Hudlin said she met her husband on a blind date arranged by the Waldens.)

“A lot of what he and I spend time talking about is our families,” said Matt Walden. “He’s really proud of these kids; he is a committed father.

Emhoff has two children from his first marriage – Cole, 25 and Ella, 21 – named after jazz greats John Coltrane and Ella Fitzgerald.

Documentary film producer Kerstin Emhoff (FX’s “AKA Jane Roe” and HBO’s “Manhunt: The Inside Story of the Hunt for Bin Laden”) divorced Doug Emhoff in 2010. Yet they have a friendly relationship and refer to theirs as a modern blended family. In the social media posts, Kerstin Emhoff makes it clear that she is in Harris’ corner.

Cole and Ella Emhoff call Harris “Momala”. On Wednesday, Ella Emhoff made her debut in the video montage of family members introducing Harris ahead of her landmark moment at the Democratic National Convention.

“You always knew [Harris] had greater political aspirations, ”said Rich Frey, a trial attorney who worked with Emhoff in Venable, but now works with Epstein Becker Green in Los Angeles.

“She is very intelligent, a good lawyer. We used to joke about it, before they got married, that she might become president, ”Frey said. “But we didn’t know what his title would be: First Man? First gentleman?

Twice before, there has been a woman on a large presidential note: Geraldine Ferraro in 1984 and Sarah Palin in 2008 raised the possibility of a historic Second Gent. Both of these campaigns failed.

If Biden and Harris beat President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, Emhoff would set the standard for the male version of the supporting spouse. It’s unclear what causes Emhoff might champion, but his friends have said they expect him to play a big role.

“And I’m sure Doug would have a big impact, being married to the vice president,” said his friend Johnson.

Frey, Emhoff’s former legal partner, agreed.

“He will play the role of supporting his wife,” Frey said. “But the ambition here is not just VP. Even if Biden doesn’t win, she won’t be out of the national picture.

Times editor Melanie Mason contributed to this report.

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