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California Governor Gavin Newsom is facing justifiable outrage from Barbara Lee, a Congresswoman running to become the only current Black woman in the U.S. Senate.
Eighty-nine-year-old Senator Diane Feinstein is the oldest woman in the Senate and a war hawk who supports mass surveilance against Americans. She has no place legislating for a new generation. She isn’t seeking reelection to the U.S. Senate, citing failing health.
Meanwhile, Rep. Barbara Lee was the only lawmaker to vote against military authorization in Afghanistan two decades ago.
Gov. Newsom promised to appoint a Black woman to her seat if Sen. Feinstein steps down before her turns ends in 2024. Now, he’s facing backlash from the very people he claimed to support.
In an interview Sunday with NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press,” Newsom said he would honor his promise but that the person he appointed to fill the seat would only be a “caretaker.” Citing his friendship with Feinstein and others, Newsom said he doesn’t want to tip the election in anyone’s favor by appointing someone whose already running, ultimately ruling out Rep. Barbara Lee.
He may not have mentioned Rep. Lee by name, but she’s the only Black woman running for the seat in a field of candidates that include Rep. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff.
Rep. Lee wasted no time with her clap back to Newsom’s whitewashed retelling of his own words.
“I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks. The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election,” Rep. Lee said in a statement.
“There are currently no Black women serving in the Senate. Since 1789, there have only been two Black woman Senators, who have served a total of 10 years,” she added.
Newsom fumbles chance to ensure a Black woman returns to the Senate, Rep. Barbara Lee snubbed
Kamala Harris, who joined the U.S. Senate in 2017, left her position to become Joe Biden’s running mate. Before her, the only other Black woman serving in the Senate was Carol Mosely Braun, D-Illinois, who served one term in the 1990s.
In his lackluster explanation for refusing to appoint Congresswoman Barbara Lee, Gov. Newsom said he the boost it would give her would be “completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off” in the election.
In the same interview where he says he still wants to appoint a Black woman for the seat, he appears indifferent to the fact that if Rep. Lee loses the race, the U.S. Senate will remain without a Black woman lawmaker in a country with over 20 million Black women.
Recent polls show Lee trailing her opponents in the race. Appointing her to fill the seat until the election would give her a needed boost.
For Newsom, however, it’s become clear that his personal friendships mean more to him than equal representation on the U.S. Senate.