Doug Emhoff's Ex-Wife and Their Kids Offer Support for Potential Historic Role as 'Second Gentleman'
Doug Emhoff, husband to Democratic vice presidential candidate Kamala Harris, isn't quite sure how he'll be referred to if his wife and Joe Biden win in November, though his son Cole thinks "second gentleman" has "a ring to it."
Emhoff is the subject of a new profile in Marie Claire, which features quotes from both the California lawyer (currently on leave from his firm to assist the campaign), Cole, 26, and his ex-wife, Kerstin, with whom he and Harris are very friendly.
As Emhoff's ex-wife told Marie Claire, she was excited to hear that, following their divorce, Emhoff was dating the then-attorney general of California. "I just thought, 'Wow, that’s cool. Don’t mess this up!' ” she said.
Kerstin was so impressed with her ex-husband's new partner, in fact, that she volunteered her services to Harris' presidential bid before that campaign ultimately ended in 2019. Harris was named to the Biden ticket in August.
In an August interview with PEOPLE, shortly after her announcement as running mate, Harris spoke of her close-knit relationship with Emhoff and his kids. "My children don’t call me stepmom, they call me Momala," Harris said. "We’re a very modern family. Their mom is a close friend of mine."
Harris, who married Emhoff in 2014 after meeting through a mutual friend, often speaks of her blended family while on the campaign trail. In an interview with CNN's Dana Bash, Harris said Kerstin was "key" to her relationship with Cole and Ella, 21.
"One of the keys to my relationship with Cole and Ella is their mom," Harris said. "We are friends. We have a very modern family ... The thing about blended families — if everyone approaches it in the way that there's plenty of love to share, then it works."
In an essay for Elle, Harris elaborated on her relationship with her stepkids. "As a child of divorce, I knew how hard it could be when your parents start to date other people," she wrote. "And I was determined not to insert myself in their lives until Doug and I had established we were in this for the long haul ... There’s nothing worse than disappointing a child."
Recounting the first time she met Cole and Ella, Harris wrote that she "picked up a tin of cookies and tied a ribbon in a bow around them," worrying that they might find the gesture "weird" or "too much."
Instead, the kids welcomed her with open arms, she said, writing, "They are brilliant, talented, funny kids who have grown to be remarkable adults. I was already hooked on Doug, but I believe it was Cole and Ella who reeled me in."
Though Ella has not given any public interviews, Cole did speak highly of his father to Marie Claire, saying, "He just has this quality where he can bring a room together."