All eyes on California Gov. Newsom to quickly name temporary Senate replacement for Feinstein
LOS ANGELES – The death of 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein puts immense pressure on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to quickly name a replacement for the trailblazing longtime Democratic senator.
With the death of Feinstein, the Democrat’s razor-thin Senate majority becomes even more fragile. And her passing comes as a bitterly divided Congress faces votes to avert a government shutdown this weekend.
Feinstein announced months ago that she wouldn’t seek re-election in 2024, and three major Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee — are currently running to succeed her.
But with more than a year left in Feinstein’s Senate term, Newsom will now need to replace her, and the governor’s decision is sure to anger some people.
The California governor earlier this year — amid Feinstein’s worsening health issues — committed to appointing a Black woman if the senator passed.
But he recently said that if he needed to name a Senate replacement, he would appoint a caretaker.
“Yes. Interim appointment. I don’t want to get involved in the primary,” Newsom said earlier this month in a NBC News interview. “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.”
That was a blow to Lee, who is Black. Her allies believed she was Newsom’s first choice to fill a potential vacancy. Lee criticized the governor after his recent comments.
Feinstein’s death will lead to Newsom elevating both of the Golden State’s senators. He named then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the Senate in early 2021 after incumbent Kamala Harris stepped down from her position to assume the vice presidency.