Everyone assumes Feinstein won’t run for re-election in 2024. California Governor Newsom’s advisor said, “Everyone interested keeps in touch.”
A vacant Senate seat in deep-blue California grants a Democrat permanent tenure.
Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, two emerging stars in the House, have the personal familiarity and campaign battle chests to win and hold seats for decades. No one wishes to be seen urging Feinstein out.
“What do you gain?” said Courtni Pugh, who handled de León’s failed 2018 Senate run against Feinstein. “People want to be courteous.”
Democrats in California were split over the San Francisco Chronicle piece last week in which Feinstein’s colleagues talked about the longtime senator’s possible cognitive problems.
“People ask, ‘Who can I call to discuss this?’ She’s alone. We need to act,” said an unnamed Democratic political strategist who has advised Feinstein.
Three Democrats and one Democratic House member said that 88-year-old Senator Feinstein’s memory was rapidly deteriorating and that she could no longer fulfill her job duties without her staff. Three former Feinstein staffers made similar claims. TERM LIMITS! pic.twitter.com/AtWIJuu06l
— Steve (@oldguy_steve) April 15, 2022
In public, it’s different.
Feinstein stated she intends to finish her term to represent her constituents. Trying to force her out before 2024 may boomerang on the opportunistic Democrats who want her job.
Even though Feinstein’s poll numbers have plummeted, no one wants her to back an opponent.
Feinstein informed the Chronicle last week that her colleagues hadn’t doubted her ability to represent 40 million Californians.
Maintaining California’s power in Washington is a factor. Feinstein and her supporters have long emphasized her seniority in translating Californian interests into federal legislation.
After replacing Vice President Kamala Harris, Newsom nominated Sen. Alex Padilla to the Senate in 2021. Whoever succeeds Feinstein will join Padilla at the bottom.
Multiple rising stars in the House have the potential to win Feinstein's seat and stay there for decades. But no one wants to be seen nudging the 88-year-old senator toward the exits. https://t.co/HbJveZMiiW
— POLITICO (@politico) April 23, 2022
“Senator Feinstein is a vital leader for California,” stated LA Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“Her efforts in Washington to solve our most pressing issues, including housing, transit, and water, are much appreciated.”
Porter’s campaign says she is focused on protecting her seat in 2022. A Schiff spokesman praised Feinstein and said Schiff endorses her “continued service to all Californians.”
Schiff possesses $18.1 million in cash on hand, while Porter is close behind with $17.8 million. Staffers for Schiff and Porter pointed to a disputed House reelection fight.
The Feinstein saga may allow Newsom to continue influencing California policy. Padilla was already appointed to a Senate vacancy, and he chose California’s attorney general and secretary of state.
If Feinstein decides to retire, Newsom will likely pick her replacement, securing her seat. Those who didn’t get Newsom’s endorsement would have a much harder time getting into the Senate.
A Newsom official stated that no Senate vacancy is expected before 2024.
If Feinstein steps down before her term is up, Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland is widely considered a possible replacement, given Newsom’s explicit dedication to elevating black women. Lee ran for the seat, eventually filled by Padilla.
Leftist Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna said he would endorse Lee if she sought the seat, but he did not rule out competing if she did not.
“I would look into it,” Khanna said during an appearance. “It depends on so many things.”
Democrats want to recognize Feinstein for her decades of service.