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Dianne Feinstein's Death Puts Pressure on Gavin Newsom: How It Impacts

The death of Sen. Dianne Feinstein has put pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom to choose a successor acceptable to Black Democrats. Newsom's previous decision to replace Sen. Kamala Harris with Sen. Alex Padilla upset Black Democrats, and now there are concerns about his choice for Feinstein's replacement. Rep. Barbara Lee, a Black woman running for Feinstein's seat, would seem like a logical choice, but Newsom previously stated that he would appoint a Black woman on an interim basis. This decision has sparked controversy and protests from Lee and others who believe that appointing a Black woman as a caretaker is insulting. Newsom's relationship with the Black community has been strained, and his decision for Feinstein's replacement will be crucial for his political ambitions.

The recent passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein has placed immense political pressure on Governor Gavin Newsom to select a successor who will be accepted by Black Democrats. This pressure stems from the frustration that Black Democrats already feel towards Newsom due to his previous decision to replace Senator Kamala Harris, the Senate's only Black woman, with Senator Alex Padilla in 2021. During an interview with MSNBC's Joy Reid, Newsom stated that if he were to appoint someone else to the Senate, it would be a Black woman.

One potential candidate for Feinstein's seat is Representative Barbara Lee, a Democrat from Oakland who is running for the position in the upcoming election. However, Newsom recently announced that he would appoint a Black woman on an interim basis to complete Feinstein's term, which ends in January 2025. When asked about this decision during an interview on NBC's "Meet the Press," Newsom confirmed that he would stick to his previous statements and appoint a Black woman if necessary.

Newsom justified his decision by stating that selecting one of the Democratic candidates running for the full term, such as Representatives Adam Schiff and Katie Porter, would be unfair to those who have put in significant effort campaigning for the position. He did not want to disrupt the upcoming primary, which is only a few months away. However, this decision sparked controversy, with Lee and others protesting against the notion of appointing a Black woman solely as a caretaker to fulfill a diversity requirement.

Anthony York, an adviser to Newsom, responded to the backlash by emphasizing that there was currently no vacancy to discuss and no indication that one would arise in the near future. He referred to the situation as a hypothetical scenario on top of another hypothetical. Feinstein had previously announced her intention to retire at the end of her six-year term in January 2025. Recent polls have shown Lee ranking third in the race for the full term, behind Schiff and Porter.

Lee, who has been a congresswoman since 1998, is highly respected within the progressive and Black communities. Aimee Allison, president and founder of the Oakland-based political network She The People, believes that it would be a significant political miscalculation for Newsom if he does not choose Lee. Allison argues that Newsom, with his potential national political ambitions, needs to be seen as someone who can be trusted by the energized voting bloc of women of color.

Newsom has faced challenges in his relationship with the Black community, particularly after his decision to appoint Padilla following Harris's vice presidential role. When questioned by MSNBC's Reid about the possibility of appointing another Black woman, Newsom confirmed that he had multiple names in mind but did not disclose any specifics.

Several names have been mentioned as potential candidates, including Karen Bass, the former congresswoman and current mayor of Los Angeles, although it is unlikely that she would leave her current position. Other possibilities include Representatives Sydney Kamlager-Dove and Maxine Waters, both from Los Angeles, who are seen as rising political stars. Secretary of State Shirley Weber and San Francisco Mayor London Breed are also considered potential contenders.

Currently, there are no Black women serving in the Senate, with only two Black women senators in history, Harris and Senator Carol Moseley Braun of Illinois, who served one term in the 1990s. The selection of a Black woman to fill Feinstein's seat would be a historic moment and a significant step towards diversifying the Senate.

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