Newsom poised to appoint a Black woman to fill Feinstein’s seat, amid controversy
California's governor said he wouldn't name a Democrat now running for the seat.
In the wake Sen. Dianne Feinstein's death, California's Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom on Friday is now tasked with naming the trailblazing senator's immediate successor.
Newsom has previously pledged to fill any Senate vacancy with a Black woman.
Many thought the natural successor for the seat, then, would be Rep. Barbara Lee -- the only Black woman of the three high-profile Democrats running for Feinstein's seat upon her announcement she would not seek another term in 2024.
But on NBC's "Meet the Press" earlier this month, Newsom said that he would not appoint any of the three, a group that includes Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff as well as Lee, to the seat if it became vacant.
Newsom said he would instead make an "interim appointment" to replace Feinstein so as to not "tip the balance" in the competitive Senate primary.
"Yes. Interim appointment. I don't want to get involved in the primary," Newsom said. "It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don't want to tip the balance of that."
In the same interview, Newsom confirmed his previous pledge to appoint a Black woman to fill the seat.
"I abide by what I've said very publicly on a consistent basis," Newsom said.
His remarks got pushback from Lee, who blasted Newsom, saying that appointing a Black woman on only an interim basis was "insulting."
"I am troubled by the Governor's remarks. The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election," Lee said on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
Lee, Schiff and Porter have been actively fundraising and campaigning for the role. All three celebrated California's senior senator following the news of her death.
"Today our nation lost a giant of the Senate, California lost its trail-blazing leader, and I lost a real friend and mentor...Her legacy is unmatched," Schiff said in a post on X.
"Sen. Feinstein was a champion for our state, and served as the voice of a political revolution for women," Lee said in a statement on X.
"Dianne Feinstein paved the way for generations of women to serve -- including me," Porter wrote on X.
There are currently no Black women serving in the Senate. The last one to do so was Kamala Harris, who resigned her Senate seat to serve as vice president.
The last vacancy in California was left by Harris. Newsom appointed Alex Padilla, the first Latino from California to serve in the Senate, who was later re-elected to a full term.
ABC News Senior Congressional Correspondent Rachel Scott contributed to this report.