Khanna endorses Barbara Lee for U.S. Senate

Rep. Ro Khanna speaks in Congress.
Rep. Ro Khanna had spent months considering a potential Senate run.
(House Television via Associated Press)

Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fremont) announced Sunday that he will co-chair Rep. Barbara Lee’s campaign for U.S. Senate.

Khanna, who has been urged by allies of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) to consider a run at the presidency, had spent months considering a potential bid to succeed retiring California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, signaling shortly after Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) launched her campaign in January that he would make a decision over the next few months.

Khanna called it “an honor” to hear from Sanders supporters and other progressives who wanted him to enter the race against Lee (D-Oakland), Porter and Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank), but said, “I believe the most exciting place to advance bold and progressive policy right now is in the House.”


So he passed on a Senate run and endorsed Lee, his progressive congressional colleague.

Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, best known for opposing broad presidential war authority after 9/11, is running for the U.S. Senate in 2024.

Feb. 21, 2023

“From the beginning, I have said that I would look closely at what Barbara Lee does and that her decision would weigh heavily on mine,” Khanna said in a statement. “She is a personal hero and one of the reasons why I first ran for Congress at age 27 on an anti-war platform. Her lone vote against the war in Afghanistan is one of the most courageous acts of modern time.”

Last month, a UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that just 4% of registered Democrats and nonpartisan voters in the survey backed Khanna for the U.S. Senate. Even if Khanna’s supporters back Lee, their combined support in that poll would climb to just 10%.

Khanna’s endorsement and role in Lee’s campaign could help her raise more money, though neither of them are the fundraising juggernauts that Schiff and Porter are.

In endorsing Lee, Khanna also said, “Representation matters,” noting that while Black women are the backbone of the Democratic Party, there isn’t a single Black woman in the Senate.

“For far too long, our country’s institutions have failed to reflect the people,” he said. “Building a multiracial, multicultural democracy is hard and we must be willing to fight for it. I look forward to fighting alongside Barbara Lee.”