Following the announcement by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) on Tuesday that she won’t be running for re-election next year, the 2024 Senate race officially became an open seat. With so many candidates having already announced their runs, thinking about running, or saying they wouldn’t, not to mention the dozens of endorsements that have already come in, the Globe takes a look at where the race stands in mid-February – or just over 20 months away.
Who is in?
Three major candidates have already declared their intention to run. Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) was the first to do so last month, sort of kickstarting the entire scramble to get into 2024 races extremely early. Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA) also joined in officially days later, with Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) all but fully in as well, with an official announcement due any day now.
For Republicans, no office-holding candidate has jumped in yet, although Educator Denice Gary-Pandol has come in early as an official candidate and 2016 Oakland Mayoral candidate Peter Liu has filed paperwork. No major third-party candidates have come in yet either.
Who may be in?
With plenty of time to both file and officially declare candidacy, there are many speculatory candidates, with several prominent Democratic lawmakers either recently being term-limited out of office or declining on running for their next term. Amongst them are San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and even Governor Gavin Newsom. While all of their odds for running are somewhere between ‘more than possible’ to ‘highly unlikely’, none of them have officially said that they won’t be running yet, meaning that they are still possibly in play.
Outside of Democrats, no major potential candidates have been brought forward, although a prominent Republican lawmakers making a serious run wouldn’t be out of the question, especially if the major Democratic candidates all get hit by major scandals in the coming months. Also possible is a celebrity run, with the number of prominent already-famous Senatorial candidates having increased in recent years, such as Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania and Herschel Walker in Georgia, and California having a history of celebrities running for, and winning, public office, including Singer Sonny Bono becoming a Congressman in the 1990s and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger elected Governor in the 2000s.
Who is out?
Besides Senator Feinstein not running again, few potential candidates have said that they won’t run. Only California Attorney General Rob Bonta has said that he is officially not running for Senate in 2024, although more are expected to make final decisions soon.
Who is backing who?
With it so early in the process along with Feinstein’s lingering decision, few endorsements have come out in the past month. Katie Porter has gotten the endorsement of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), while Adam Schiff has gotten the majority of the California Democratic House delegation, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Key may be who Feinstein herself would like, with Schiff being seen early on as her favorite.
What is coming up next?
More announcements are expected soon. Congresswoman Lee is expected to make her official announcement later this month, and others are likely to follow, at least in the form of exploratory committees throughout the Spring
Many organizations and other lawmakers are expected to only give endorsements sparingly as they await who else will join in the race. Geographically, the San Francisco Bay Area has historically always held at least one Senate seat through someone there, and currently most candidates are from SoCal, which may spring support for another NorCal or Central Californian candidate. Demographic-wise, a Latino or Asian candidate is also possible, with many speculatory candidates fitting that bill.
What is certain is that the Senate race has only begun, and already heated only a few months after the last election. Buckle up – this is going to be a long, turbulent ride
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