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- After Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein died on Friday, her vacancy in the Senate must be filled by an appointee of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom of California.
- Newsom previously vowed to only appoint a black woman to Feinstein’s seat, as well as someone who was not seeking the office for a full term in the 2024 general election.
- “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,” said Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California, a black woman who is running for the seat.
(Daily Caller)—After Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California passed away on Friday, the Daily Caller News Foundation compiled a list of politicians who may be appointed to her seat by Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, in keeping with his pledge to name a black woman to the position.
Newsom pledged to nominate a black woman to temporarily fill a potential vacancy in Feinstein’s seat in March of 2021, when health complications had raised questions about whether she would complete her term. After Newsom updated his pledge on Sept. 10, saying that he would only appoint someone who isn’t currently a candidate for the seat, the DCNF compiled a list of Democratic black women politicians from California who may be appointed based on his requirements.
1. London Breed
Breed is currently the mayor of San Francisco, a position previously held by both Feinstein and Newsom. She is also running for re-election to a second full term in 2024 but is facing primary challenges from Daniel Lurie, a philanthropist and an heir to the Levi Strauss & Co. denim jeans manufacturing fortune, as well as Democratic San Francisco Supervisor Ahsha Safaí, who represents the 11th district.
Breed has been heavily criticized by Republicans and some Democrats for homelessness, sanitation drug use and crime in San Francisco. The number of encampments in the city recently reached its highest level since 2020, while the number of opioid deaths also exceeded a previous record on Sept. 19.
From the office of Senator Dianne Feinstein: pic.twitter.com/rvcAmVk8O0
— Senator Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) September 29, 2023
In response to a request for comment, a spokesperson shared a statement from Breed where she said that “this decision is the Governor’s responsibility and that conversation can be saved for another day.”
2. Lori Wilson
Wilson is currently the majority whip in the California Assembly as well as the chair of the California Legislative Black Caucus, two high-ranking positions in the state’s Democratic establishment. She represents areas around the state capital of Sacramento and previously served as the mayor of Suisun City.
Wilson has recently criticized Newsom for vetoing Assembly Bill 957, a bill she had sponsored that would have threatened the custodial rights of parents who do not agree with their child’s transgenderism. “The veto … is a profound disappointment. Across this nation, transgender children are being targeted and erased,” Wilson wrote in a joint statement with the California Legislature’s LGBTQ caucus, adding “[t]his veto is a missed opportunity to remind the nation that California is a safe haven for transgender and non-binary children.”
3. Karen Bass
Bass is currently the mayor of Los Angeles, having been elected to the role in 2022. She previously served for eleven years in Congress, which included two years as chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, as well as the Speaker of the California General Assembly from 2008 to 2010 while in the state legislature.
It is unclear whether Bass, who has served less than a year as mayor, is willing to relinquish her office for a temporary appointment to Feinstein’s former seat. A spokesperson for Bass said that she is not interested in the seat, according to a report by the Los Angeles Times.
“Senator Feinstein was a trailblazer on whose shoulders I, and women in elected office all across America, will always stand,” Bass wrote on Twitter regarding Feinstein’s death.
4. Pamela Price
Price is currently the district attorney of Alameda County, which is adjacent to San Francisco and includes the city of Oakland. Price is currently facing a recall effort from business groups who allege that she has failed to combat crime in the city.
“District Attorney Pamela Price has absolutely failed the people of Alameda County. Crime is spiraling out of control. It’s time to stand up for victims of crime and their families to bring justice back to Alameda County,” said Carl Chan, president of the Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce, who has endorsed the recall effort, to CBS News. Campaigners need to gather 73,195 signatures from Alameda County voters within 160 days to initiate a recall election, CBS reported.
Price’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Feinstein’s death or whether she was seeking Feinstein’s seat.
5. Kamala Harris
Vice President Kamala Harris, like Feinstein, is from San Francisco and served alongside her in the Senate from 2017 to 2021. She also served as the district attorney of San Francisco from 2004 to 2011 and as the attorney general of California from 2011 to 2017.
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Harris, who is the ex-officio President of the Senate and is running for re-election with President Joe Biden in 2024, is highly unlikely to resign from the vice presidency to fill Feinstein’s vacancy. However, she meets Newsom’s criteria of being a black woman who is not running for the seat in 2024.
“Senator Dianne Feinstein was one of the greatest public servants that California and our nation has ever known,” Harris wrote in a statement published on Twitter. “I will never forget how I felt in November 1992 as a 28-year-old prosecutor, driving across the bridge from my home in Oakland into San Francisco to celebrate her election to the United States Senate.”
6. Mia Bonta
Bonta serves in the California Assembly as a representative for the 18th district, which covers Alameda County in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also the wife of Democratic Attorney General Rob Bonta of California, who was previously appointed by Newsom to his role.
Bonta, a black woman and member of the state legislature’s Black Caucus, is not currently seeking election to the Senate. If appointed, she would also become California’s first Hispanic woman senator, having been born to Puerto Rican parents who are the descendants of Ghanaian slaves.
“[Feinstein was] a Bay Area native who paved the way for a new generation of women leaders in California and nationwide. Her presence will be deeply missed in #AD18 and throughout the country,” Bonta wrote on Twitter of Feinstein’s passing.
7. Barbara Lee
Lee, the Democratic congresswoman from California’s 12 district, which covers Alameda County, is currently running for Feinstein’s seat in 2024. Were Newsom to appoint her, he would break his vow of Sept. 18 to appoint someone other than a candidate for office to the role.
“I am troubled by the governor’s remarks,” Lee said following Newsom’s announcement that he would only appoint a caretaker to the role. “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.”
It is not certain whether, if appointed, Lee would win the election to a full term. She currently ranks third in polls, behind Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, respectively.
“This is a sad day for California and the nation,” Lee wrote on Twitter of Feinstein’s death. “Sen. Feinstein was a champion for our state and served as the voice of a political revolution for women.”
Newsom, Harris, Wilson, Lee, Bonta and Price did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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