Rep. Barbara Lee tells colleagues she plans to run for Feinstein’s Senate seat



Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, a seasoned progressive with greater than three a long time immersed in California politics, on Wednesday instructed congressional colleagues she plans to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat in 2024.

Lee introduced her intentions throughout a gathering of the Congressional Black Caucus, receiving a standing ovation, however has not formally confirmed she is working or shaped an official Senate committee to start out elevating cash in a race anticipated to be each pricey and intensely aggressive.

Lee’s personal disclosure comes only a day after Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) launched her marketing campaign to interchange Feinstein, 89, who has but to reveal whether or not she intends to retire on the finish of her time period. As probably the most coveted posts in California politics, Feinstein’s Senate seat is broadly anticipated to spur curiosity from a number of the state’s most bold and outstanding elected leaders.

Lee’s announcement was confirmed by a supply near the congresswoman who requested to not be recognized as a result of they weren’t approved to talk on her political plans. The supply cautioned that the congresswoman didn’t announce a Senate marketing campaign — solely her intention to run. The information was first reported by Politico.

First elected to Congress in 1998 after practically a decade within the California Legislature, Lee is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and former co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. She sought to hitch Home Democratic management thrice within the final decade with out success.

Lee solid the lone “no” vote in opposition to the authorization of use of navy pressure after the Sept. 11 assaults. Lee additionally has been a robust advocate for increasing entry to abortion by repealing what is named the Hyde Modification, which prohibits federal funds from getting used to pay for abortion besides when vital to save lots of a lady’s life or in circumstances of rape or incest.

Rep. Gregory W. Meeks (D-N.Y.), head of the Congressional Black Caucus PAC, praised Lee as a member of Congress who “is aware of methods to ship and get issues completed” and who possesses a agency grasp of how Washington works, abilities he mentioned would serve her properly within the Senate.

“Her fame is that she’s the fighter for the little man. She’s a voice for the unvoiced, and she or he’s fearless,” Meeks mentioned. “They have a look at her as an individual who will do as she believes however but nonetheless is aware of methods to work throughout the traces to assist her individuals.”

Meeks mentioned the Congressional Black Caucus PAC would “completely” assist her bid for the Senate.

Different potential Senate candidates from California’s congressional delegation embody Reps. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) and Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin).

Schiff backed off a possible management run within the Home after former Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco) introduced she was stepping down, paving the best way for Hakeem Jeffries of New York to change into the highest Democrat. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) additionally promised to take away Schiff from the Home Intelligence Committee, a panel he chaired earlier than Republicans took over the chamber this month.

Khanna, who has been inspired by allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to run for president, has mentioned he’ll resolve on a Senate run within the subsequent few months.

Though Lee’s liberal monitor document would enchantment to a section of California voters, she does face some substantial head winds. At 76 years previous, Lee might encounter resistance from voters if they’re in search of generational change in Washington, mentioned Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego.

“If the argument for abandoning probably the most distinguished, formidable and cherished California politicians in Dianne Feinstein is solely her age, then I believe individuals will likely be on the lookout for a a lot youthful substitute,” Kousser mentioned.

Lee additionally may wrestle to win over average Californians, a pivotal vote in a state with the top-two major system that may favor politicians who hew extra towards the center.

“Barbara Lee has a extra progressive profile than” different Democrats anticipated to vie for the seat, mentioned Kim Nalder, a political science professor at Sacramento State. “It’s a bonus for a subset of Californians however not essentially for the voters you would wish in a top-two system wherein you’re more likely to have two Democrats within the common election in that race.”

Moreover, Lee doesn’t have the fundraising historical past of different Democrats within the race or who’re weighing a run. In a state with a number of the most costly media markets within the nation, the power to boost tens of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} will likely be important.

“It makes an enormous distinction. We’re not Wyoming, the place you’ll be able to virtually knock on each door to win a Senate race,” Nalder mentioned. “In California, you completely want a serious media marketing campaign and floor sport. It’s insane how a lot cash you want in California.”

Lee ended her most up-to-date reelection marketing campaign with lower than $55,000 money readily available, based on federal marketing campaign filings. Khanna has greater than $5 million within the financial institution, whereas Porter launched her Senate bid with practically $8 million in her marketing campaign account and Schiff has greater than $20 million.

Porter, probably the most prodigious fundraisers in Congress, additionally raised $1.3 million on-line for the first within the first 24 hours after her launch, based on her marketing campaign.

Recent off a aggressive reelection to her Orange County district, Porter introduced a Senate bid Tuesday morning, changing into the primary main candidate to enter the sphere. However she drew criticism from potential rivals for her timing, which got here as Californians are grappling with lethal winter storms which have killed at the least 19 individuals.

Vice President Kamala Harris’ election in 2020 led to her Senate seat changing into vacant and the higher chamber with out a single Black girl. Newsom appointed former California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to interchange Harris. Padilla, the primary Latino to characterize the state within the Senate, in November was elected to a full six-year Senate time period.

Newsom has mentioned he would appoint a Black girl to interchange Feinstein if she had been to vacate her seat early, and Lee was broadly seen as a prime contender for an appointment. However Feinstein has repeatedly mentioned she intends to serve her full time period, which expires in early 2025.

Feinstein, first elected in a 1992 particular election, has not mentioned whether or not she intends to hunt reelection or retire. She instructed The Instances final month that she would most likely announce her intentions by this spring.

The Senate race guarantees to have a considerable influence on California’s 2024 congressional campaigns. Porter narrowly gained her Orange County district, and Republicans had already recognized it as one they hope to win subsequent yr. Republican Scott Baugh, who misplaced to Porter in November, mentioned on social media that he plans to try again next year. Lee, Schiff and Khanna characterize secure Democratic districts, however the vacancies may set off some fierce intraparty competitors.

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