California Gov. Gavin Newsom is facing strong criticism from one Democrat in the state after he said Sunday that he would make an “interim appointment” to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein if necessary after promising to appoint a Black woman.
“Yes. Interim appointment,” Newsom said in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press“. “I don’t want to get involved in the primary. It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that.”
Three California Democrats, Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, have announced that they are running for the seat after Feinstein said earlier this year that she will not be seeking re-election when her term ends in 2024.
Lee, who was believed to be Newsom’s top pick to replace Feinstein if the senator was unable to complete her term, fired back at Newsom calling his comments “insulting.”
“I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks. 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,” she said in a statement, according to KTVU.
“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 added. “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. We need a seat at the table.”
If Lee wins the seat she will be the third Black woman to ever serve in the Senate after Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) and Vice President Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). But she faces a steep climb as recent polling shows her trailing both Schiff and Porter by double digits and both candidates have significant financial advantages.
In response to Lee’s statement an advisor for Newsom said: “[It’s] a hypothetical on top of a hypothetical. There is no vacancy for any U.S. Senate seat, nor does the Governor anticipate there will be one. Voters will have their say on who should replace Senator Feinstein when they go to the polls less than 6 months from now.”