California Governor Gavin Newsom has verbally committed to appointing a Black woman to the U.S. Senate if the 87-year-old Dianne Feinstein resigns before her term ends in 2024.
Monday, when asked that specific “yes-or-no question” by Joy Reid on her weekday MSNBC show, The ReidOut, Newsom replied, “We have multiple names in mind, and the answer is yes.”
Feinstein is the oldest sitting U.S. senator and was re-elected in 2018. She has recently come under scrutiny from her fellow Democrats, who have questioned her memory and what they have deemed a relationship with Republicans that is “too friendly.”
In an email statement from Feinstein’s office, her spokesperson said, “the senator has no plans to step down.”
Newsom was pressured to appoint a Black woman to replace Sen. Kamala Harris after she was elected vice president in November 2020 as Joe Biden‘s running mate. However, Newsom chose Alex Padilla, who became the state’s first Latino senator.
There are currently no Black women in the 100-member legislative body.
Newsom, a Democrat, is embattled in his state. A sixth attempt to recall him is underway, citing his response to the coronavirus pandemic, amid a public-relations crisis stemming from him attending a private birthday dinner last year while mandating strict stay-at-home orders.
“And by the way, I’ve only been governor for 25 months, so it’s been a very short period of time,” Newsom told Reid, speaking on the latest effort to boost him from office. “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.”
Many supporters of the current Newsom recall effort are supporters of former President Donald Trump, and some have ties to right-wing fringe groups.
“I mean, let me be just more candid and more direct,” Newsom said. “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.”
California’s two Black Democratic congresswomen, Karen Bass and Barbara Lee, have emerged as potential appointees to the Senate should Feinstein leave office before 2024. Both have publicly defended Newsom against the recall effort.