Gov. Gavin Newsom To Pick Senate Replacement For Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein

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The political elite in California is quietly abuzz over what will happen to Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s vacant Senate seat as it mourns her passing on Friday.

Feinstein had previously declared she would not seek re-election in 2024, setting off a competitive battle to choose her replacement. Now that she has passed away, Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom will be forced to name a replacement to complete the balance of the term – a difficult choice he has been dreading having to make.

A change in leadership might derail California’s highly publicized Senate contest, which puts prominent Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee, Katie Porter, and Adam Schiff against one another before an all-party primary in March.

Aiming to give Democrats a second vote to pass budget legislation, Newsom would feel pressed to nominate a replacement soon given the impending government shutdown.

According to a representative for the senator, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, a Democrat from New York, spoke with Newsom on Friday. As the Senate waited for Newsom to fill the vacancy that gave Democrats a 50-49 majority, the call was made.

According to a source close to Newsom, he will soon make a temporary appointment to fill Feinstein’s seat.

Since Kamala Harris resigned from her position as senator to seek the vice presidency in 2020, Newsom has been outspoken about his desire to avoid selecting a replacement for Feinstein. This is especially true considering that he previously chose Alex Padilla as the second senator from the state.

After facing criticism for choosing Padilla, a Latino guy, to succeed Harris, the only Black woman in the Senate, Newsom promised that he would choose a Black woman to fill any subsequent vacancies.

That pledge was generally viewed as a wink to Lee, and Newsom allies have said that if Feinstein had earlier heeded calls to quit as her health began to deteriorate several years ago, he probably would have selected her.

But Newsom made that commitment over two years ago, well before Feinstein declared she would not seek re-election and before anyone declared their interest in challenging her.

And earlier this month, Newsom announced on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he will instead pick someone to carry out the remaining term as an “interim appointment” rather than running for re-election. However, he implied that the person would still be a Black lady.

Following Newsom’s decision, Lee was furious and delivered a rare public reprimand of her fellow Democrat, claiming in a news release and on cable news that appointing a Black woman to the Senate seat temporarily would be merely symbolic.

Many California politicians, including her allies who ran a super PAC backing her race, were taken aback by Lee’s broadside.