Nancy Pelosi backs Adam Schiff’s bid for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat

Rep. Adam Schiff walks near the U.S. Capitol building, seen in the background.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), shown Jan. 12, received the backing of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and several other Californians in his bid for a Senate seat next year.
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Democratic stalwart and former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi endorsed Rep. Adam B. Schiff’s bid for the U.S. Senate on Thursday, as long as incumbent Dianne Feinstein doesn’t seek reelection.

“If she decides not to run, I will be supporting House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, who knows well the nexus between a strong Democracy and a strong economy,” Pelosi, of San Francisco, said in a statement. “In his service in the House, he has focused on strengthening our Democracy with justice and on building an economy that works for all.”

Schiff chaired the Intelligence Committee until Republicans took control of the House in 2023.


Pelosi’s support comes as California Democrats are increasingly eyeing the Senate seat Feinstein was elected to in 1992. While the incumbent has said she will announce her plans later this year, the 89-year-old is not expected to seek another term. The former San Francisco mayor has faced mounting questions about her mental acuity and frailty in recent years.

The prospect of a rare open Senate seat in California sets the stage for an expensive and highly competitive battle.

Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine was the first prominent Democrat to announce a bid for Feinstein’s seat last month, quickly followed by Schiff, of Burbank. Veteran Oakland Rep. Barbara Lee has told House colleagues that she plans to run and has started assembling a campaign team. Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna has also said he is considering a run. No prominent Republican has announced plans to run for the office.

Along with Pelosi, Schiff on Thursday also announced the support of 20 additional current and former California members of Congress, including Ted Lieu of Torrance, Brad Sherman of Northridge, Eric Swalwell of Dublin and Henry Waxman of Los Angeles.

“I am honored to have earned the support of Speaker Pelosi and so many of my colleagues from the California delegation,” Schiff said. “Together, we’ve played an outsized role within the U.S. Congress in protecting our democracy and supporting working families, and I’m excited to continue that work as their partner in expanding healthcare, combating the climate crisis, and addressing homelessness.”

Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego, said the endorsements are an early show of force and may be particularly effective since all of the major candidates or potential candidates all serve together in the House.


“Adam Schiff clearly wants to make himself the presumptive front-runner and send a signal to the few voters who are paying attention already, but also to donors, to other endorsers that he’s the train they should be hitching themselves to,” he said. “This wouldn’t carry so much weight if Katie Porter was a statewide officeholder, if Barbara Lee was a mayor. The fact they are all serving in the same body, in the same delegation, and all of these people know each other so well, this set of endorsements speaks volumes.”

Also, while Schiff is viewed as a team player, Porter has shown a willingness to confront Pelosi and other senior Democratic lawmakers, earning an image as an outsider and sometimes straining relationships with party leaders.

Porter clashed with the then-Speaker in 2021 over House Democrats’ traditions for doling out committee assignments after she lost a coveted spot on the House Financial Services panel.

Last year, she was part of a bipartisan group of lawmakers pushing to ban members of Congress from trading individual stocks, arguing the practice fed into a perception of insider trading and corruption. Pelosi was publicly cool on the proposal — arguing at one point, “we’re a free market economy” — before signaling some openness to the effort.

“Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi was wrong. I’m glad that she’s changed her mind. I think that’s a marker of leadership,” Porter said on MSNBC. “But the reality is, I am always willing to stand up to the leaders of both parties, including my own party, and I’m really gratified here that she is changing her mind.”

The legislation never came to the House floor for a vote.

“I’m very disappointed — and angry, frankly — that the Democratic party didn’t pass a congressional ban on stock trading. I think it’s inexcusable,” Porter told The Times last fall.


Her campaign did not respond to a request for comment about the endorsements.

Times staff writer Melanie Mason contributed to this report.