Newsom Faces Criticism for Opposing Appointment of Black Woman to Fill Feinstein’s Vacant Senate Seat

California’s Gov. Gavin Newsom has come under fire for remarks about appointing a black woman to a seat now held by Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein.

Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif. — who’s in the 2024 race for a seat in the upper chamber — lashed out at Newsom for saying he’d pick a black woman to be Feinstein’s replacement until the end of her term in early 2025 — but not for a full term, The Hill reported.

Feinstein, 90, isn’t running for reelection, but questions remain about whether she’ll complete her term amid health problems.

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

“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.

“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 said. “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 added. “We need a seat at the table.”

Newsom reiterated his intention to chose a black woman if he was to appoint a replacement during an interview Sunday with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.” 

Newsom didn’t describe the appointment as a caretaker position, but Todd dubbed it so.

Newsom also told Todd he doesn’t want to pick a replacement because it would be “completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tails off,” conceding he’d do so if necessary.

He’s also made it clear he wouldn’t appoint any people currently running for Feinstein’s seat, The Hill reported, telling Todd he didn’t want to “tip the balance” ahead of a Democratic primary.

Contenders for Feinstein’s seat include Lee and Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter. 

If Lee were to win, she’d become the only sitting black female U.S. senator, and only the third ever elected, The Hill noted. The last sitting black female senator was Vice President Kamala Harris.

A recent poll shows Lee trailing both Schiff and Porter.

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