The Congressional Black Caucus has sent a letter asking Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint Rep. Barbara Lee to the late Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat, throwing another wrench into the 2024 California Senate election. California Gov. Gavin Newsom said in March that he would choose a Black woman if Feinstein couldn’t complete her term, but also said earlier this month that he wouldn’t choose any of the candidates already running — including Lee.
While speaking to MSNBC’s Symone Sanders-Townsend, Rep. Steven Horsford explained that in addition to sending the letter, he has also spoken to Newsom “in person and by phone” over the last few months to impress upon him that “this is bigger than any one person. I believe, and the majority of the Congressional Black Caucus believe, the most qualified person on day one to fulfill the legacy of Senator Diane Feinstein is none other than Congresswoman Barbara Lee.”
Horsford detailed Lee’s lengthy domestic and international experience while in office, as well as her commitment to social and economic justice. “At a time when all of our rights are under attack, we need the most prepared person to help us in the Senate,” he said.
Horsford stopped short of sharing what exactly Newsom has said in response, and added only that he has asked the governor to “reconsider public statements that may or may not be exactly what he has intended.”
Lee has been in the U.S. House of Representatives since 1998. She had previously announced her run in what’s become a crowded campaign for the Senate even before Feinstein’s death. Along with Lee, other top contenders among Democrats include Rep. Katie Porter and Rep. Adam Schiff.
The question of age has already faced Lee. At 77, she’s the oldest of the major California Senate candidates — Schiff is 63, while Porter is 49. The L.A. Times wrote about those concerns back in June, while the San Francisco Chronicle was quick to point to them as soon as Lee announced in February.
Lee formally launched her campaign in February after telling the Congressional Black Caucus of her plans to run the month before.
In a Berkeley IGS poll released earlier this month, Lee was in third place with 7% of the vote, while Schiff and Porter were polling at 20% and 17%, respectively. Republicans Steve Garvey and James Bradley are also each polling at 7%, though Bradley comes in at 10% if Garvey, also a former Major League Baseball player, declines to enter the race.
On Sunday, the Daily Mail tossed another name into the running for Feinstein’s seat: Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex. The reports are likely too far-fetched to be true, but certainly indicate that the appointment is one to keep an eye on.