U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee is “troubled” by Gov. Gavin Newsom’s decision to replace outgoing Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) with a caretaker if she resigns before the end of her term, the Democrat said on Sept. 10.
Ms. Lee, who's running to replace the longtime senator, criticized the governor in a series of social media posts for reiterating his decision not to appoint any candidates running for the senator’s seat in 2024.
“I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks,” Ms. Lee said. “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.”
Ms. Feinstein announced in February her intention to retire at the end of her term on Jan. 3, 2025. Two years ago, Mr. Newsom said in an interview with MSNBC that he intended to nominate a black woman for the U.S. Senate if Ms. Feinstein resigned from the seat she has held since 1992.
“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. Black women deserve more than a participation trophy. We need a seat at the table,” Ms. Lee said in a thread of statements.
“I don’t want to make another appointment,” Mr. Newsom told Mr. Todd. “I don’t want to get involved in the primary. It would be completely unfair.”
Still ServingThe issue could be moot, though, as Ms. Feinstein isn't considering resigning, according to her Washington office. She's recently been at the Capitol and continued to participate and vote.
“She intends to serve out the remainder of her term,” her spokesman, Adam Russell, told The Epoch Times.
Ms. Feinstein, 90, is the oldest and longest-serving U.S. senator and member of Congress. Her ongoing health battles and frequent absences have prompted constituents and several officials from across the political spectrum to call for her resignation.
Last month, the senator returned briefly to the hospital after she reportedly fell at home.
Age on the BallotMs. Feinstein’s precarious condition and President Joe Biden’s recent trouble with falling and difficulty speaking in public, along with concerns about Sen. Mitch McConnell, 81, who has frozen during two media appearances, has shined a spotlight on the issue of aging politicians.
If elected, Ms. Lee would be 78 years old when she takes office, reaching 84 at the end of her six-year term.
Ms. Lee, however, is running behind two other well-known Democratic candidates for the senate seat—Rep. Adam Schiff, 63, and Rep. Katie Porter, 49.
Ms. Lee tied Republicans Steve Garvey, 74, and James Bradley, 66, in the poll. All received 7 percent of the vote. Republican Eric Early trailed the top three candidates, capturing 5 percent.
The poll, conducted between Aug. 24 and Aug. 29, asked 6,030 California registered voters who they were likely to vote for in the March 2024 primary election.
The survey also asked voters their opinion about Ms. Feinstein’s replacement if she were unable to finish her term.
More than half—51 percent—said they would prefer Mr. Newsom to nominate someone prepared to run for a full term next year rather than make an interim appointee who wouldn't seek reelection, according to the poll.
“While most Californians prefer that Newsom appoint a successor to Feinstein who will run for the full-term, if put in this position the Governor’s political calculus is complicated,” University of California–Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies co-director Eric Schickler said in a statement. “With three well-known and well-liked Democrats vying for the seat, appointing a likely successor would divide the Governor’s supporters.”
Ms. Lee’s campaign office didn't return requests for comment by press time.