Rep. Lee criticizes Newsom’s comments about replacing Feinstein

In an interview on "Meet the Press," California's governor said if he had to fill the Senate seat, he'd select a Black woman, but not one running for it now — as Rep. Barbara Lee is.

California Gov. Gavin Newsom has come under fire for his “insulting” explanation of how he intends to replace ailing Sen. Dianne Feinstein if she cannot complete her term.

After serving in the U.S. Senate for 30 years, Feinstein announced in February that she would not seek reelection. The Hill reported she has missed multiple Senate sessions in recent months due to continuing health difficulties, including shingles.

In a Sunday interview with Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Newsom stated he would select a Black woman to finish Feinstein’s term, but not one running for the Senate right now — ruling out Rep. Barbara Lee, one of the Democratic candidates.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., (above) is calling out her state’s governor, Gavin Newsom, following his recent remarks about how he plans to replace ailing California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, if necessary. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

“I am troubled by the governor’s remarks,” Lee said in a statement Sunday. “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.”

Newsom told Todd he does not want to name a replacement but choosing someone seeking the primary nomination would be “completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off,” given that such an appointment could be a significant benefit. However, he acknowledged that he would fill the seat if necessary.

According to The Washington Post, Newsom highlighted that Feinstein, 90, would decide whether to leave the Senate before her tenure ends in early 2025. While acknowledging that Feinstein’s office is “still extraordinarily active” and capable of carrying out its tasks, Newsom seemed to concur with Todd that the scenario is “sad to watch.”

In addition to Lee, her other California members of Congress, Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, are among the candidates vying for Feinstein’s seat, according to The Hill. A win for Lee would make her the only sitting Black female U.S. senator and the third ever elected. However, recent polls indicate the veteran legislator is trailing her colleagues.

Since former Sen. Kamala Harris left in 2021 to become vice president, Lee, who entered the campaign in February, has frequently underlined the need for a Black female senator, The Post reported.

“The perspective of Black women in the U.S. Senate is sorely needed, and needed for more than a few months. Governor Newsom knows this, which is why he made the pledge in the first place,” Lee’s statement noted, according to The Hill. “If the Governor intends to keep his promise and appoint a Black woman to the Senate, the people of California deserve the best possible person for that job. Not a token appointment.”

“Black women deserve more than a participation trophy,” she maintained. “We need a seat at the table.”

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