California Gov. Gavin Newsom assured MSNBC host Joy Reid during an interview Monday that he would fill Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat with a black woman should she decide to retire.
“I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind — and the answer is yes,” Newsom, a Democrat who is facing a recall over his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, assured Reid, who suggested that an “African-American” woman should be chosen to replace Vice President Kamala Harris.
.@joyannreid: "If Dianne Feinstein were to retire, will you nominate an African American woman to restore the seat that Kamala Harris is no longer in the Senate? And do you have a name in mind?"@gavinnewsom: "We have multiple names in mind, the answer is yes."#TheReidOut pic.twitter.com/SrQ5iGKeNM
— The ReidOut (@thereidout) March 15, 2021
Feinstein, who has served as a Democratic senator from California since 1992, has not indicated she is preparing to retire. But several Democrats belonging to the party’s more leftist faction have increased calls for her to step down after she angered them over her handling of Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court hearings. Feinstein was civil in her dealings with Barrett and even praised then-Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) for his handling of the hearings.
In addition, concerns about Feinstein’s mental status have arisen following media reports detailing some “age-related missteps,” Politico reported on Monday.
“Speaking on background, and with respect for her accomplished career, they say her short-term memory has grown so poor that she often forgets she has been briefed on a topic, accusing her staff of failing to do so just after they have,” The New Yorker reported in December, citing an anonymous source.
Finally, there are those who worry about Newsom’s recall, which increasingly looks likely to happen. While the state’s heavy Democratic voter base makes it most likely he’ll be retained, there is still a chance he could be replaced by a Republican who would then be able to nominate a GOP senator to replace Feinstein were she to step down, at least until January 2023, Politico noted.
For her part, Feinstein has already filed paperwork to run again in 2024, when she will be 91 years old. If she wins an almost certain primary, she will be 97 at the end of the next term.
That said, there has been some speculation that Feinstein may not actually run again in four years.
“It is not unprecedented for a politician to file these types of documents even if they do not intend to ultimately go through with a campaign,” Los Angeles Magazine noted in January. “There are implications for moving funds from previous campaign war chests, or being able to fundraise now and then transfer the cash to other entities. However, Feinstein has not yet confirmed that the move is purely procedural.”
Still, the senior California senator has pushed back on her critics and has made it clear that she intends to serve out her current term.
“I don’t feel my cognitive abilities have diminished. Do I forget something sometimes? Quite possibly…We do get things done and we do pass bills. You do get older, that’s true. But I have been productive,” she said in December.
As for Newsom’s commitment to name a black woman to replace Feinstein should the occasion arise, Aimee Allison, founder of She The People, praised it as a “game-changer” that is “incredible — and long overdue,” Politico reported.