In a recent development regarding the race for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat next year, Rep. Barbara Lee, a Democrat running for the position, has criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom for his stance on the interim appointment. Newsom had stated that he would only appoint someone who is not running for the seat in 2024, and preferably a Black woman. However, Lee, who is currently the only Black woman running for the seat, expressed her disappointment with the governor's remarks, calling them insulting and tokenistic.
During an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," Newsom reaffirmed his commitment to appointing a Black woman if necessary, although he expressed his hope that he would not have to make that decision. When asked by host Chuck Todd about the possibility of appointing an African-American woman as a caretaker, Newsom responded, "I abide by what I've said very publicly and on a consistent basis, yes."
In response, Lee issued a statement expressing her concerns about the governor's comments. She argued that the idea of appointing a Black woman as a mere caretaker to fulfill a diversity quota is disrespectful to the countless Black women who have been instrumental in the Democratic Party's success. Lee emphasized the lack of representation of Black women in the Senate and called for a deserving candidate, rather than a token appointment.
Newsom further clarified his position, stating that he would not consider any of the California Democrats currently running for Feinstein's seat for the interim appointment. He cited fairness to the candidates who have been actively campaigning and the upcoming primary as reasons for his decision. Notable Democrats in the race include Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, with Porter being the first to announce her candidacy even before Feinstein declared she would not seek re-election.
While Newsom is adamant about fulfilling his promise to appoint a Black woman if Feinstein's seat becomes vacant, he expressed his reluctance to make another appointment. He stated that he believes the people of California would prefer to have a direct election rather than another appointment by him. Newsom mentioned his close relationship with Feinstein, describing himself as the "most subjective human being in the world" when it comes to her and her future.
Feinstein's health has been a subject of concern, with her absence from the Senate earlier this year raising questions about her ability to continue serving. Though she denied being absent, reports indicate that she did not realize she had been gone during her two-and-a-half-month absence. Feinstein's colleagues had to prompt her multiple times to cast her vote during a subsequent session. These incidents have added to speculation about her ability to fulfill her term.
In conclusion, Rep. Barbara Lee has criticized California Governor Gavin Newsom for his stance on appointing an “interim” replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's seat. Newsom, while committed to appointing a Black woman if necessary, has ruled out current candidates running for the seat and hopes to avoid making another appointment. The race for Feinstein's seat in 2024 is already underway, with prominent Democrats like Adam Schiff and Katie Porter vying for the position. The uncertainty surrounding Feinstein's health has further intensified the discussions about her future in office.