Rep. Barbara Lee tells colleagues she plans to run for Feinstein’s
democratic representative. barbara lee of oakland, a seasoned progressive with more than three decades immersed in california politics, told her congressional colleagues on wednesday that she plans to run for senate. dianne feinstein’s senate seat in 2024.
Lee announced his intentions during a meeting of the congressional black caucus to a standing ovation, but he has not officially confirmed a run or formed an official senatorial committee to start raising money in a race that is expected to be expensive and intensely competitive. .
Lee’s private disclosure comes just one day after the rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) has launched her campaign to replace Feinstein, 89, who has yet to reveal whether he intends to retire at the end of his term. As one of the most coveted positions in California politics, Feinstein’s Senate seat is expected to spark the interest of some of the state’s most ambitious and prominent elected leaders.
Lee’s announcement was confirmed by a source close to the congresswoman who asked not to be named because she was not authorized to discuss her political plans. The source warned that the congresswoman did not announce a campaign for the Senate, only her intention to run. the news was first reported by politician.
First elected to congress in 1998 after nearly a decade in the california legislature, lee was chair of the congressional black caucus and former co-chair of the congressional progressive caucus. she tried to join the democratic leadership of the house three times in the last decade without success.
Lee cast the only “no” vote against authorizing the use of military force after September 1. 11 attacks. Lee has also been a strong advocate of expanding abortion access by repealing what is known as the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funds from being used to pay for abortion except when necessary to save a woman’s life or in cases of rape or incest.
representative gregory w. meeks (d-n.y.), head of the pac of the congressional black caucus, praised lee as a congressman who “knows how to deliver and get things done” and who possesses a firm understanding of how washington works, skills he said they would serve her well in the senate.
“her reputation is that she is the fighter for the little one. She is a voice for the voiceless and she is fearless,” Meeks said. “They see her as a person who will do what she believes in, but she still knows how to work in every way to help her people.”
meeks said the pac of the congressional black caucus would “absolutely” support his senate bid.
Other possible senate candidates for the california congressional delegation include representatives. adam b. schiff (d-burbank), ro khanna (d-fremont) and eric swalwell (d-dublin).
schiff backed out of a potential house leadership race after former speaker nancy pelosi (democrat of san francisco) announced she was stepping down, paving the way for new york’s hakeem jeffries to become the top democrat. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) has also vowed to remove Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee, a panel he chaired before Republicans took control of the House this month.
khanna, who has been encouraged by sen’s allies. bernie sanders (i-vt.) to run for president, has said he will decide on a senate bid in the coming months.
Although Lee’s liberal record would appeal to a segment of California voters, he faces some significant hurdles. At 76, Lee may encounter resistance from voters if he seeks a generational change in Washington, said Thad Kousser, a professor of political science at UC San Diego.
“If the argument for leaving one of California’s most distinguished, formidable and beloved politicians is Dianne Feinstein is simply her age, then I think people will look to a much younger replacement,” Kousser said.
Lee could also have a hard time winning over moderate Californians, a critical vote in a state with a top-two primary system that can favor politicians who lean more toward the middle.
“Barbara Lee has a more progressive profile than” other Democrats expected to run for the seat, said Kim Nalder, a political science professor at Sacramento State. “It’s an advantage for a subset of Californians, but not necessarily for the voters that she would need in a top-two system where there are likely to be two Democrats in the general election of that race.”
Furthermore, Lee doesn’t have the fundraising record of other Democrats in the race or considering a run. in a state with some of the most expensive media markets in the country, the ability to raise tens of millions of dollars will be essential.
“It makes a big difference. we’re not in wyoming where you can pretty much knock on every door to win a senate race,” nalder said. “In California, you absolutely need a huge media campaign and field game. it’s crazy how much money is needed in california.”
Lee finished his most recent re-election campaign with less than $55,000 in cash on hand, according to federal campaign documents. Khanna has more than $5 million in the bank, while Porter launched his Senate bid with nearly $8 million in his campaign account, and Schiff has more than $20 million.
porter, one of the most prodigious congressional fundraisers, also raised $1.3 million online for the primary in the first 24 hours of its launch, according to her campaign.
Fresh off a competitive re-election run in his Orange County district, Porter announced a run for Senate Tuesday morning, becoming the first major female candidate to enter the field. But she drew criticism from potential rivals for her opportunity, which came as Californians are dealing with deadly winter storms that have killed at least 19 people.
the 2020 election of vice president kamala harris left her senate seat vacant and the upper house without a single black woman. Gavin Newsom has named former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to replace Harris. Padilla, the first Latino to represent the state in the Senate, was elected in November to a full six-year senatorial term.
newsom has said he would appoint a black woman to replace feinstein if he vacated her position early, and lee was widely considered to be a frontrunner for an appointment. But Feinstein has repeatedly said that she intends to serve out his full term, which expires in early 2025.
Feinstein, first elected in a 1992 special election, has not said whether she intends to seek re-election or retire. she told the times last month that she would likely announce her intentions this spring.
the senate race promises to have a substantial impact on california’s congressional campaigns in 2024. porter narrowly won his orange county district, and republicans had already identified him as one they hope to win next year . Republican Scott Baugh, who lost to Porter in November, said on social media that he plans to try again next year. Lee, Schiff and Khanna represent safe Democratic districts, but the vacancies could unleash fierce intraparty competition.