With California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, finally announcing her retirement from politics after serving since 1992, the race is on to determine her successor. Sitting Governor of California, Gavin Newsom, is now tasked with appointing someone to fill her seat for the remaining year and a half of her term. Newsom is facing a dilemma in the decision as the interests of prominent political figures vie for the position.
Representatives from California’s Democratic party, the country’s leading progressive advocates, are pressing Newsom to choose Representative Barbara Lee to fill Feinstein’s part. Lee is a progressive congresswoman from Oakland who has achieved a long-standing position as one of the most liberal members of Congress. Her commitment to progressive causes such as criminal justice reform and homelessness are major points of contention with many Democrats.
Other representatives oppose Lee and argue that a more moderate, less-polarizing choice would better serve California and its constituents. California’s congressional delegation is split, composed of its progressive leader Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco, and the more conservative side from former House Majority leader Kevin McCarthy, representative from Bakersfield. This divide is causing many to urge Newsom to choose a representative who can more effectively bridge the gap between the two sides.
The fever of competition has mounted further as two prominent political figures of California have applied to be Newsom’s choice for Feinstein’s spot. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra are both highly regarded progressives at the state-level, but Garcetti holds the support of some more conservative figures due to his focus on bipartisanship.
Governor Newsom himself is a moderate progressive, and is assuredly weighing all of the political pressures as he comes to a conclusion. He has stated that the choice will not be immediately available and that he is taking into account all of the applicants. This public service appointment is sure to shape the political landscape of California for years to come.