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California Governor Gavin Newsom speaking at the State of the State address in Sacramento, CA, Mar 8, 2022. (Photo: Sheila Fitzgerald/Shutterstock)

Newsom Faces Growing Pressure to Choose Black Woman As Replacement for Sen. Feinstein

Some people on Newsom’s 2021 shortlist are no longer viable

By Evan Symon, April 15, 2023 2:30 am

Governor Gavin Newsom is facing growing pressure from black organizations to select a black woman as the next U.S. Senator from California should Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) resign due to her current health problems.

In December 2020, with then-Senator Kamala Harris elected Vice President and expected to move out of the position soon, all eyes were on Gov. Newsom for his interim Senate pick to fill out her term. While many expected he would choose a black woman, Newsom ultimately chose California Secretary of State Alex Padilla. While the pick was controversial due to Padilla’s closeness to the Governor, as well as his political and personal track record as “One of the worst election officials in the nation,” Padilla was also praised by some as the first Latino Senator in California history.

However, many black groups quickly attacked the choice, noting that Newsom had just removed the only black woman from the Senate. Newsom, in kind, quickly said that should Feinstein’s seat open up, he would pick a black woman to replace her to fill out the term.

“Definitely, this is a real blow to the African-American community,” said San Francisco Mayor London Breed at the time. “It’s an unfortunate situation as we are trying to move this country forward and making sure that Black lives truly matter and that African-Americans have a seat at the table, especially African-American women, after what was done in this race on a national level, definitely is unfortunate.”

Then-Congresswoman Karen Bass (D-CA) accused Newsom of contributing to the lack of representation for African-American women in Congress.

A shortlist soon came out in 2021, with expected Senate replacement and then-Congresswoman Karen Bass topping out the list, followed by Breed, Secretary of State Shirley Weber, Los Angeles County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and others including Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA). For the last two years, the outrage died down, especially since Lee is now squaring off against fellow Congressional members Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Katie Porter (D-CA), as well as against lawyer Eric Early (R).

That dynamic changed significantly this week when Feinstein, who has missed Senate meetings since March due to a bad case of shingles, temporarily left the Senate Judiciary Committee due to a backlog caused by her absence. It also led to a renewed push for her to resign, led by Congressman and one-time Senate hopeful Ro Khanna. With Feinstein now possibly leaving, black groups have reminded Newsom of his promise made back in 2020 to pick a black woman should the seat open.

However, Newsom’s shortlist now has major problems. Bass, who just became Mayor of Los Angeles, is now likely out as a contender due to her new job. Lee is favored due to her seniority, but selecting her for the caretaker position is widely seen as a bad idea as she is running for the seat in 2024, and appointing her would give her an unfair advantage of being the ‘incumbent’ all of the sudden. Plus Lee has not said that she would definitely accept the interim position.

Newsom’s possible pick

“The congresswoman’s primary concern is for Sen. Feinstein’s health,” said Lee campaign spokesperson Katie Merrill. “She is wishing the Senator a full and speedy recovery.”

As for others such as Breed and Weber, selecting one of them could encourage them to run in 2024, further splintering the race amongst Democrats and, again, giving one candidate the side of incumbency. A choice of someone who isn’t a black woman, such as Khanna, who has likely been gunning for the job, would only spark more outrage from black groups against Newsom for breaking a major promise. In statements, both Bass and Mitchell have said that they would not accept the positions, while Weber remained non-committal.

With public pressure mounting and a temporary Senator pick expected to be given fast due to the current narrow Democratic Senate lead, Newsom would likely need to have a name in mind soon.

“Newsom has a lot of potential picks that can cause a firestorm,” noted Washington-based election advisor Stan Taney told the Globe Friday. “Should Feinstein retire, he cannot leave a place high and dry, so Bass is out. He cannot afford to make the majority of California Democrats angry at him for picking a side, so Lee is out. Mitchell said no. So who is left? Breed? She is not very popular in San Francisco right now, and her choice could be brought into question, especially with how much San Francisco has sunk under her tenure.”

“Weber seems like the choice with the fewest repercussions, but a lot of NorCal people won’t like that both Senators are from SoCal. And that’s not even getting into it if she decides to run in 2024 as well. Newsom needs a pick who can stick to less than two years in office and is a black woman. There’s not a lot of options for Newsom that wouldn’t result in political flak, something which he cannot afford right now.”

As of Friday afternoon, Feinstein has continued to refuse calls for resignation.

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10 thoughts on “Newsom Faces Growing Pressure to Choose Black Woman As Replacement for Sen. Feinstein

  1. So, instead of picking the best person for the job, Newsome will pick the person who makes the least people mad at him. Sounds about right.

  2. I nominate Candace Owens. No? Why not?

    I see, they meant a psychotic communist, racist, anti-American, not a smart Patriotic woman.

    1. Yes she would be good or how about Star Parker?
      I am sure we would consider a conservative self made woman!

  3. There is one thing consistent with every one of California’s senators going back to Alan Cranston: they all have national security clearances, meaning on the outside, they aren’t who they appear to be.

    1. How in the world did DiFi Kamala or Padilla qualify?
      They are not what I would consider top government assets.
      BTW, Thomas I do not discount what you say.

      1. The puppet masters pick stupid, narcissistic people who will do as they are ordered. They must be stupid so that they don’t realize that their masters will throw them under the bus once they are no longer useful.

        The cackling witch is exhibit #1.

        1. Yes the one that loves yellow school busses and venn diagrams.😳 Brilliance, personified😂

  4. I read that he’s so concerned about equity and racism that he’s about to resign and give his position to an African American! Then he’s going to donate all of his assets and future earnings to help the disadvantaged! Oh wait I misread. He just wants everyone else to do it!

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