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- Dianne Feinstein, 89, now sidelined by shingles, is facing calls from Democrats to resign.
- If she steps down, Gov. Gavin Newsom would name a replacement to serve the remainder of her term.
- Three Democrats have already announced they are running for her seat in 2024.
Dianne Feinstein has been sidelined by a shingles diagnosis, and the 89-year-old faces concerns about her mental acuity and calls from within her party to resign after 31 years of service in the Senate.
The California Democrat’s current term ends on January 3, 2025, and she has said she would not run for reelection.
If she resigns before her term ends, it will be up to the state’s Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint a replacement to fill out the remainder of her term.
In March 2021, Newsom said he would name a Black woman to the post if Feinstein decided to step down when MSNBC host Joy Reid asked if he would make that commitment on her show.
“I have multiple names in mind. We have multiple names in mind — and the answer is yes,” he said then.
His comment followed lobbying to appoint a Black woman to fill then-Sen. Kamala Harris’ seat after she was elected vice president, but he instead appointed Sen. Alex Padilla, the state’s first Latino US Senator.
Newsom’s decision is more complicated now that three Democrats have already announced they are running for Feinstein’s seat. They are Reps. Katie Porter, Adam Schiff, and Barbara Lee. Appointing any one of them would be an advantage in his or her 2024 bid for the seat.
Rep. Ro Khanna, a California progressive, passed on running for the seat and instead endorsed Lee, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and a former co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus.
Khanna more recently called on Feinstein to resign, tweeting that “it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties.” Rep. Dean Phillips of Minnesota tweeted that he agreed with Khanna.
Feinstein announced that she asked Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to temporarily replace her on the Senate Judiciary Committee as she recovers from shingles. Her absence has reportedly raised concerns that President Joe Biden’s judicial nominations will be stalled.
“I hope the Republicans will join us in making sure this happens,” Schumer told reporters. “It’s the only right and fair thing to do.”