Kamala Harris getting ready to announce 2020 bid for White House, sources say

(KCBS) Sen. Kamala Harris has decided to run for president in 2020 and will announce her candidacy on or around Martin Luther King Jr. Day, probably at a campaign rally in Oakland, sources close to the freshman senator from California tell KCBS Radio.

Harris, 54, has been making the rounds of television talk shows and appearing at several events this week as part of a brief tour to promote her new book, "The Truths We Hold: An American Journey."

At every stop, when asked about running for president, Harris has answered with some variation of "I'm not ready yet" to announce her decision, citing family considerations. But several sources knowledgeable about her plans say she is ready, and has in fact decided to run, with the enthusiastic blessing of her husband and two stepchildren.

The debate within her camp is how, and where, to launch her campaign. The tentative plan is for Harris to enter the race for the Democratic presidential nomination with a campaign rally, most likely in Oakland, where she was born and began her legal career.

Harris risks appearing indecisive, or worse, disingenuous, if she demurs about her plans much longer, warns veteran Democratic strategist Darry Sragow, the publisher of the nonpartisan California Target Book, who teaches political science at USC.

"If she really has decided to run," said Sragow, "my advice would be, announce. Don't drag this out."

Related: Sen. Kamala Harris

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UNITED STATES - MAY 22: Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., makes her way to the Senate Policy luncheons in the Capitol on May 22, 2018. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) arrives for a town hall meeting in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Senate Judiciary Committee members Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) (L) and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) talk during a hearing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich testified that the FBI could have and should have done more to stop the school shooter Nikolas Cruz after it receieved several tips about him. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
U.S. Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) holds a town hall meeting in Sacramento, California, U.S., April 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bob Strong
Senator Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks about the Senate Intelligence Committee findings and recommendations on threats to election infrastructure on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2018. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
California gubernatorial candidate, Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom arrives with Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) at a campaign rally in Burbank, California, U.S. May 30, 2018. REUTERS/Lucy Nicholson
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (2nd L) shares a moment with Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) (R) as Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) (L) looks on during a news conference on immigration in front of the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Harris, joined by other female Democratic congressional members, held a news conference 'to show support for immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 23: U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (C) speaks during a news conference on immigration in front of the U.S. Capitol May 23, 2018 in Washington, DC. Sen. Harris, joined by other female Democratic congressional members, held a news conference 'to show support for immigration and refugee policies that protect the rights and safety of women and children.' (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
US Senator Kamala Harris attends the United State of Women Summit at the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, on May 5, 2018. (Photo by CHRIS DELMAS / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHRIS DELMAS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Senate Judiciary Committee member Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) questions witnesses during a hearing about the massacre at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill March 14, 2018 in Washington, DC. Federal Bureau of Investigation Acting Deputy Director David Bowdich testified that the FBI could have and should have done more to stop the school shooter Nikolas Cruz after it receieved several tips about him. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 25: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) speaks during a news conference with fellow Democrats, 'Dreamers' and university presidents and chancellors to call for passage of the Dream Act at the U.S. Capitol October 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. President Donald Trump said he will end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA) and has asked Congress to find a solution for the status of the beneficiaries of the program, called 'Dreamers.' (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 18: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) walks to the Senate chamber for a series of 6 roll call votes regarding the Fiscal Year 2018 Budget Resolution on Capitol Hill, on October 18, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 13: Senate Intelligence Committee members Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) (C) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) (R) arrive for a closed-door committee meeting in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill July 13, 2017 in Washington, DC. Some members of the committee have demanded that Donald Trump, Jr. testify before the intelligence committee after it was revealed that he and Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort met with a Russian lawyer in hopes of getting opposition information on Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 27: Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)(L) walks with Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) (C), to a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence closed door meeting at the U.S. Capitol, on April 27, 2017 in Washington, DC. The committee is investigation possible Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MAY 16: Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) heads for her party's weekly policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 16, 2017 in Washington, DC. Many Republican and Democratic senators expressed frustration and concern about how President Donald Trump may have shared classified intelligence with the Russian foreign minister last week at the White House. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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Harris' team wants maximum exposure for her campaign kickoff, and has been scouting for a telegenic location that could give her a "Springfield moment" akin to Barack Obama's campaign launch in 2007 at the Old State Capitol in Illinois.

Harris' advisors want to avoid identifying her too closely with San Francisco, where she first made her political mark as a two-term district attorney.

"San Francisco is viewed as a very nutty place by people outside of California, and frankly, by a lot of people inside California," Sragow said.

Berkeley, where Harris was raised before her parents divorced and she moved with her mother and sister to Montreal, Canada, has also been dismissed by her strategists as not projecting the image they're looking for. That leaves Oakland, where Harris was born, and where she returned after law school to become a deputy district attorney for Alameda County.

"I'm not sure what Oakland's image is around the country these days," said Sragow, but the city, one of the nation's most diverse, is seen as on the rise. Launching her national campaign there would let Harris emphasize her roots and identify with the hardscrabble city's gritty energy, creativity and even the Golden State Warriors, who've won three NBA championships since 2015. 

The sources caution that Harris' planned rollout is still being finalized. The location and timing could change. But the current plan is for Harris to throw her hat into the ring sometime over the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend, perhaps even on MLK Day itself, which is Monday, January 21.

Sragow notes that as a statewide official whose husband is a prominent Los Angeles attorney, Harris could announce her candidacy anywhere in the state, from L.A. to Sacramento to Silicon Valley.

But the sources tell KCBS Radio the Bay Area is the preferred backdrop. The next stop would probably be Iowa, where Harris would go on an introductory campaign swing to begin in earnest her quest for the White House.

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