All eyes on Gavin Newsom who will REPLACE Dianne Feinstein: California Governor faces


California Gov. Gavin Newsom has a free hand to decide who he chooses to appoint to succeed the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the Senate – but he is hemmed in by his own pledges and complex political constraints.

Feinstein, who died Thursday at 90, has been a force in California politics and her hometown of San Francisco for decades. Now it is up to Newsom to decide who will succeed her until an election will be held in November 2024.

He has already been direct about who he will designate: a black woman. Vice President Kamala Harris is one of just two black women to serve in the Senate during its history, and Newsom said flat-out that in the event of a vacancy, he would name another one.

‘I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind — and the answer is yes,’ he told MSNBC host Joy Reid in March, when asked if he would nominate a black woman. 

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has authority to appoint a successor to the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He said amid Feinstein's health problems that he would name a black woman to the seat. Three prominent state Democrats are already battling in the primary for the seat

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has authority to appoint a successor to the late Sen. Dianne Feinstein. He said amid Feinstein’s health problems that he would name a black woman to the seat. Three prominent state Democrats are already battling in the primary for the seat

There are multiple black women in California politics to choose from. One of them, Rep. Barbara Lee, is already running for the seat, complicating matters.

Others include Los Angeles Mayor Karen Bass, another former member of Congress. She was elected to the post only last year.

Additional names floated as Feinstein battled health problems and missed votes include Secretary of State Shirley Weber, L.A. County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Politico reported in May.

Selecting Lee might invite charges of giving her an unfair advantage in the hotly contested primary. That would give her the chance to run in 2024 as an incumbent, a substantial leg up in a heavily Democratic state.

Newsom said as much on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’ a few weeks ago.

‘It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off,’ he said. ‘That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that.’

An L.A. Times / Berkeley IGS poll this week had California Rep. Adam Schiff leading the field with 20 per cent. Schiff, a former House impeachment manager, was followed by Rep. Katie Porter at 17 per cent and Lee at 7 per cent.

Newsom called Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died at 90, a 'political giant'

Newsom called Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who died at 90, a ‘political giant’

California Sec. of State Shirley Weber has been mentioned as a possible appointee

California Sec. of State Shirley Weber has been mentioned as a possible appointee

Holly J. Mitchell, a member of the L.A. Board of Supervisors, has also been mentioned

Holly J. Mitchell, a member of the L.A. Board of Supervisors, has also been mentioned

Barbara Lee, D-Calif., is already running for the Senate seat, which might make it hard for Newsom to appoint her

Barbara Lee, D-Calif., is already running for the Senate seat, which might make it hard for Newsom to appoint her

Former Rep. Karen Bass was elected mayor of L.A. last year

Former Rep. Karen Bass was elected mayor of L.A. last year

Rep. Katie Porter is battling Bass and Rep. Adam Schiff in the 2024 race for the vacant Feinstein seat

Rep. Katie Porter is battling Bass and Rep. Adam Schiff in the 2024 race for the vacant Feinstein seat

Rep. Adam Schiff is leading early polls. He served as a House impeachment manager in the Senate

Rep. Adam Schiff is leading early polls. He served as a House impeachment manager in the Senate

One state political consultant, Michael Trujillo, floated the idea of Newsom appointing Weber, then reappointing her to her secretary of state post later.

Schiff is an ally of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, 83, who surprised politicos in both parties by announcing she would seek reelection next year. She currently carries the title Speaker Emerita, but continues to hold sway in her party and is an effective fundraiser. 

Newsom appointed Sen. Alex Padilla when Harris was elected to the vice presidency in 2020. Padilla became state’s first latino represented in the Senate.

The longtime Democratic senator had suffered from health issues in the past year, including a case of shingles that kept her away from the Senate for a month. She also fell at her San Francisco home in August and was briefly hospitalized.

Feinstein stayed in her Senate seat despite pressure to resign due to her health.  She used a wheelchair in the Senate and aides had been seen directing her how to vote.

She was the fifth-oldest person to serve in the Senate. 

Newom is a gathering force inside his own party. The Biden campaign dispatched him to Simi Valley this week as a counter spokesman for the Republican presidential debate.

He is set to debate Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis next month on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s program. He has also repeatedly denied his own interest in running for the White House, amid polling problems for Biden, 80, and concerns by insiders that public perceptions of his age and vitality could harm his chances. 

Newsom in a statement Friday called Feinstein a ‘political giant’ who ‘broke down barriers and glass ceilings.’

He called her a ‘powerful, trailblazing US senator’ and a ‘leader in times of tragedy and chaos.’

In words underlining the challenging of choosing someone to succeed her, he said ‘there is simply nobody who possessed the poise, gravitas, and fierceness of Dianne Feinstein.’





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