Who will California Governor Gavin Newsom pick to fill Diane Feinstein’s Senate seat?
Thoughts, prayers, and tributes aside, it’s a question that is on everyone’s mind, especially with a government shutdown looming and the state’s Senate primary race on the horizon — one in which Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee are expected to duke it out ahead of the March all-party primary.
Feinstein’s death on Thursday at the age of 90 will force Newsom “to appoint a replacement to serve out the remainder of the term — a politically fraught decision he has been dreading having to make,” according to NBC News.
As BizPac Review reported, Newsom announced in 2021 that he would select a black woman should Feinstein retire before her 2024 term was up — a promise he made after he selected Latino Democrat Alex Padilla to fill Kamala Harris’s Senate seat when she stepped up as President Biden’s veep.
— BPR based (@DumpstrFireNews) September 29, 2023
“That pledge was widely seen as a nod to Lee, and Newsom advisers have said he likely would have chosen her if Feinstein had earlier heeded calls to resign as her health declined several years ago,” NBC News reports.
Just two weeks ago, on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Newsom said, “I don’t want to make another appointment. I don’t think the people of California want me to make another appointment.”
“That said, it’s my job,” he continued. “It’s my responsibility. If we have to do it, we’ll do it.”
He indicated he would make an “interim appointment.”
“I don’t want to get involved in the primary,” Newsom said. “It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that.”
Pressed if he would fulfill his promise of electing an African-American woman, Newsom said, “We hope we never have to make this decision, but I abide by what I’ve said very publicly on a consistent basis.”
His remarks infuriated Lee, who called them “insulting.”
“I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks,” Lee said in a statement. “The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election.”
“If the Governor intends to keep his promise and appoint a Black woman to the Senate, the people of California deserve the best possible person for that job. Not a token appointment,” she fumed. “Black women deserve more than a participation trophy. We need a seat at the table.”
— BPR based (@DumpstrFireNews) September 11, 2023
According to NBC News, given the potential for a government shutdown, “Newsom may feel pressure to name a replacement quickly to give Democrats an additional vote to pass spending legislation.”
“Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., spoke with Newsom on Friday, a spokesperson for the senator said,” the outlet reports. “The call comes as the Senate waits for Newsom to fill the vacancy that’s left Democrats with a 50-49 majority.”
Newsom’s announcement of an interim appointment for the vacant seat will be made in the coming days, a source close to Newsom told NBC News.
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