During a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) shared that she intended to launch a campaign to replace five-term Senator Dianne Feinstein, who many believe will retire at the end of her term in 2024. Feinstein, who became became California’s first female U.S. senator in 1992 when she first assumed the office, will turn 90 in June and has not publicly revealed what her plans are.
With Feinstein’s seat being one of California’s most coveted political posts, Rep. Katie Porter (D-Orange County) became the first to officially throw her hat into the ring and has already earned the endorsement of Senator Elizabeth Warren. Others said to be eyeing the post include Rep. Adam Schiff, who many believe would ultimately become the frontrunner.
In a statement following Porter’s announcement, Feinstein released a statement that said in part, “Everyone is of course welcome to throw their hat in the ring, and I will make an announcement concerning my plans for 2024 at the appropriate time.”
Lee has not officially announced a run. It is not the first time her name has come up in connection with a Senate post. Two years ago, Black political and advocacy groups lobbied Governor Gavin Newsom to pick either Lee or then Congresswoman Karen Bass to replace Kamala Harris when she vacated her senate seat to become vice-president.
“Our government is about representation of the people, and as we saw in this election, Black people, and more specifically Black women, are constantly showing up for democracy,” the Black Lives Matter organization wrote in a petition. “If there is not a single Black woman in the Senate, then the Senate is simply not a proper representation of the people.”
At the time, Newsom said he would indeed appoint a Black woman to replace Feinstein if she vacated her seat early.
“This may be the last Senate opportunity until the 2040s,” Meet the Press moderator Chuck Todd recently observed. “If you want to be a United States Senator for California, this may be your last shot for two decades.”
Political insiders say the biggest hurdle for Lee could be money as some speculate that winning a competitive Senate campaign could mean spending upwards of $30 million. Porter has said that she’s raised over $1 million and reportedly has nearly $8 million in her campaign account, while Schiff’s campaign finances are said to be somewhere in the neighborhood of $20 million.