Washington Examiner

California Democrats pester Newsom with requests to replace missing senator

Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) is finding himself in the hot seat as Democrats reckon with Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) ailing health.

If Feinstein, 89, opts to step down from the Senate, Newsom will be tasked with naming a temporary replacement, leading to a deluge of questions from allies across the country about who should step in for her.


“Emails, calls, texts. People stopping me. I mean, I’m not kidding. This is one of the biggest topics here. It was one of the biggest topics when I was in Alabama,” Newsom said in an interview with FOX 11 Los Angeles, referring to his recent campaign against red-state policies.

Feinstein has been absent from the Senate since February after contracting shingles. Her time away has rankled a handful of Democrats in Congress who are frustrated by the drag her absence placed on approving President Joe Biden’s judicial picks in the Senate.

But for Newsom, the matter is also personal. He and Feinstein previously served as mayors of San Francisco and have long been friends.

“All I care about is her. It’s a hard one for me because I’m so subjective. She’s one of my oldest friends, not just political friends,” Newsom said. “It’s hard for all of us that have known her, and I want her when she decides what to do … that she goes out with dignity.”

Feinstein said she isn’t running for reelection next year, opening the floodgates to one of the most contentious and expensive Democratic primary fights in the country. Prominent Democrats, such as Reps. Katie Porter (D-CA), Adam Schiff (D-CA), and Barbara Lee (D-CA), have jumped into the bruising battle to replace her.

One of the most vocal liberals to call on Feinstein to resign so that the Senate Judiciary Committee can charge ahead with Biden’s controversial picks has been Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA). He was recently joined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Khanna has endorsed Lee in the Senate primary.

Some have speculated that his push for Feinstein’s resignation has been motivated by a desire to have Lee appointed as her interim replacement, which could give her a leg-up in the primary. Khanna has downplayed suggestions that he wants to see Lee given a head start on 2024, but the questions about what effect Newsom’s appointment would have on next year’s contest point to the outsize influence he could have on the race.

Newsom committed to selecting a black woman as Feinstein’s replacement if she were to resign — something she hasn’t indicated she is interested in. A few years ago, he found himself in a similar predicament when then-Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) transitioned into the vice presidency. His pick at the time, Alex Padilla, won subsequent elections to complete her term and serve a full Senate term.

“The hard part now is that the race is not that many months away. The primary’s early next year. So it’s now a very different place,” Newsom said. “It’s not an academic conversation like it was a year ago. If she does resign and hope she doesn’t, obviously, that’s a more difficult question.”


Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) spoke with Feinstein earlier this week and said she conveyed optimism that she will return to the nation’s capital next week.

Despite her absence, the Senate has moved forward on Biden’s less controversial picks as a handful of nominees have won bipartisan support.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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