Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has passed away. At 90, Feinstein was the oldest member of the Senate, the longest-serving female senator, and the longest-serving senator from California.
The Golden State lawmaker faced numerous calls for her resignation recently due to her declining health. It was announced in February that she planned to retire at the end of her term, and several ambitious Democrats have been eying her seat in the upcoming 2024 election. With her passing, however, it falls to CA Governor Gavin Newsom to appoint her replacement.
The Feinstein Factor
First elected to the Senate in 1992, Feinstein spent her three decades in power pushing such progressive causes as unrestricted abortion access and strict gun control. Still, she has been viewed by many as a centrist – a testament, perhaps, to how far left the new crop of progressive Democrats have become.
Many have called for a more progressive senator to succeed Feinstein, a “true champion for the working people,” as Cal Matters put it earlier this year, who will fight for such causes as a $20 or more per hour minimum wage and more taxes for the wealthy. Some of those vying for the seat in 2024 certainly fit that bill, but Feinstein’s passing may throw a wrench in their plans. Gov. Newsom, in an interview with Meet the Press earlier this month, said that he would not appoint any of the high-profile contenders should the office become vacant before the election.
Who will Newsom appoint? He didn’t reveal a top pick in the interview, but he did express his dread at the prospect. “I don’t want to make another appointment, and I don’t think the people of California want me to make another appointment,” the governor said. After facing backlash for replacing VP Kamala Harris, the Senate’s only black woman, with a Latino man, Newsom pledged to pick a black woman to fill any future vacancy.
So the next senator from California will be a black woman, if Newsom keeps his word. Who that will be and how it changes things for the high-profile Democrats campaigning to take her place in 2024, like Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, remains to be seen.