Newsom pledges to appoint a Black woman to replace Feinstein if she retires

California Gov. Gavin Newsom.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks at a news conference in Sacramento on Feb. 27. Newsom said Monday he would nominate a Black woman to fill Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat, were she to retire.
(Associated Press)

Gov. Gavin Newsom pledged Monday to nominate a Black woman to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein if the 87-year-old decides to retire before her term is up in 2024.

“I have multiple names in mind,” Newsom told MSNBC’s Joy Reid when she asked him whether he would name a Black woman to replace a retiring Feinstein.

Newsom made the statement hours after his allies launched a campaign against a proposed recall that appears to be on the cusp of qualifying for the ballot. The first-term governor made his most extensive comments about the effort to oust him from office, saying that the effort is being led by extremists and funded by Trump donors.


“This is the sixth recall attempt since I’ve been governor. And by the way, I’ve only been governor 25 months. So it’s been a very short period of time,” Newsom said. “But this one is serious and it’s serious for many different reasons. It’s the uncertainty of being on the ballot with the question up or down, but also the folks behind it.”

He added: “I mean, let me be just more candid and more direct. The principal sponsor of this recall effort wants to put microchips in immigrant aliens. We have folks that are literally part of the 3 Percent militia group, right wing group that are part of the principal proponents of this effort.”

The early roots of the recall included supporters of former President Trump, some with ties to fringe groups. But as the movement grew, it has been adopted by mainstream California Republicans, including some of the strategists who worked on the 2003 recall of Gov. Gray Davis.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein says she has no plans to step down, even after Gov. Gavin Newsom said he has already thought about who might replace her.

March 16, 2021

Newsom’s pledge to appoint a Black woman to replace Feinstein if she decides to retire came hours after California’s most prominent elected Black leaders, including Reps. Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, promised to organize Black voters to oppose the recall if it qualifies for the ballot.

Earlier this year, Newsom faced criticism among some Democrats for not naming a Black woman to replace Sen. Kamala Harris when she won the vice presidency. (He appointed Alex Padilla, the first Latino to represent California.) Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, is one of two Black women who have served in the U.S. Senate. There are three Black men now serving in the body and zero Black women.

Feinstein, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992 and is the oldest sitting senator, has been at the center of rumors about whether she would retire. She is facing questions about her mental acuity and calls from within her own party to step down. A poll conducted by UC Berkeley’s Institute of Governmental Studies found just 35% of California residents approved of the job she was doing.


Feinstein told Times columnist George Skelton in December that she has not considered retiring before the end of her term in 2024, at which point she will be 91.

In the interview, Feinstein pushed back on scrutiny of her cognitive abilities and defended her and her staff’s record.

“We do get things done and we do pass bills,” she said. “You do get older, that’s true. But I have been productive.”