Barbara Lee feuds with Newsom over his Senate appointment plan

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s comments about a potential appointment to succeed Sen. Dianne Feinstein aren’t sitting well with the Oakland congresswoman.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) slammed California Gov. Gavin Newsom for comments that he made on NBC’s Meet the Press regarding potential plans to appoint a replacement for Sen. Dianne Feinstein if the need arises. 

Lee, one of the candidates running to win Feinstein’s seat next year as she wraps up her lengthy career in the Senate, accused Newsom of simply checking a box if he appoints a Black woman to be a caretaker. 


Driving the news: Newsom previously pledged that he would appoint a Black woman, although it would be someone not running for the seat. 

  • Lee is the only Black woman running for the seat and would be the only Black woman to currently serve in the Senate. Vice President Kamala Harris was the last Black woman senator. 
  • Newsom told NBC’s Chuck Todd that he would stick by his pledge to appoint a Black woman to the position. 
  • Todd pressed Newsom, noting that the appointment would effectively be a caretaker for the position. 
  • Newsom responded that he hopes to never have to make the decision and characterized it as an interim appointment, saying he does not want to get involved in the March primary. 
  • Lee is one of several candidates who have launched campaigns for the seat, including Rep. Adam Schiff (D–Burbank) and Rep. Katie Porter (D–Irvine). 

Lee’s response: Lee released a statement saying she is troubled by Newsom’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,” Lee said.
  • Lee added, “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. 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.”
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