Oprah Winfrey, Meghan Markle reportedly floated as potential replacements for Dianne Feinstein
Oprah Winfrey and Meghan Markle are reportedly among those being considered to replace late Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.
Winfrey’s name is among those being floated for the role, according to Newsmax and The Desert Sun, but the successful TV host-turned-billionaire book publisher and entrepreneur indicated as recently as in May that she “is not considering the seat should it become vacant,” according to the Los Angeles Times.
It was announced Friday that Feinstein died at age 90. All eyes have since turned to Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will appoint someone to serve out the remaining 13 months of Feinstein’s term. The two term governor, who attended the second GOP debate in Simi Valley last week on behalf of President Biden’s re-election campaign to lead counter Republican messaging, has stated in the past he will appoint a Black woman to the Senate in the event of Feinstein’s passing.
Newsom reportedly has national ambitions of his own amid rumors of a potential 2028 presidential run. As recently as earlier last week, Newsom insisted he would not challenge Biden in 2024. Meanwhile, sources told The Daily Mail that the Duchess of Sussex’s name has also been thrown in the ring as Feinstein’s potential replacement.
She and Prince Harry reside in Montecito, California.
“Meghan is definitely a long-shot but in the craziness that is US politics these days it’s not an impossibility. Crazier things have happened,” a major Democratic donor told the Mail.
Markle’s name was reportedly considered for the U.S. Senate before the 2020 election when Biden chose Sen. Kamala Harris as his running mate. At that time, a senior Labour Party source told the Mail that Markle had been “networking among senior Democrats” on the venture of building a grassroots campaign eventually targeting a presidential bid of her own.
Markle has grown a close friendship with Gloria Steinem. A friend fo Steinem’s told the Mail, “Gloria has been introducing Meghan to pivotal people within the party.”
“Meghan is interested in politics more than anything else. That’s where she believes her power is, but she has had to focus on making money,” the unnamed source is quoted to have said.
Newsom has said he would avoid the field of candidates already campaigning for Feinstein’s post, which will be on the ballot next year and includes Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the state’s most prominent Black women currently serving in elected office. In the hours after Feinstein’s death, Newsom quickly faced calls to honor his commitment to name a Black woman for the role, with some leaders calling on him specifically to name Lee to the post, a reminder of the fraught dynamic Newsom faces with a key Democratic constituency.
For Newsom, any choice he makes risks alienating key allies at home, including those he would need for a future national campaign. Should he follow through on his pledge to avoid picking from those already running in the Senate primary, he could select a true caretaker who would be replaced by whomever voters select in next year’s election. A handful of Black women in office have been floated as possibilities, including Secretary of State Shirley Weber and Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell.
But Lee and others lashed out at Newsom earlier in the month after he indicated he would select a caretaker instead of picking from the current slate of candidates.
“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,” Lee posted on X, formerly known as Twitter.
That was echoed by Aimee Allison, who founded She the People, a political advocacy network for women of color, who said, “Black women are not mere caretakers, but the voting and organizing center of the national Democratic Party.”
Lee on Friday posted that Feinstein was “a champion for our state, and served as the voice of a political revolution for women.” She did not address the open seat.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.