All eyes on California Gov. Newsom to quickly name temporary Senate replacement for Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 90, had suffered from extensive health issues for more than a year before she died Friday

LOS ANGELES — The death of 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein puts immense pressure on California Gov. Gavin Newsom to quickly name a replacement for the trailblazing longtime Democratic senator.

With the death of Feinstein, the Democrats' razor-thin Senate majority becomes even more fragile. And her passing comes as a bitterly divided Congress faces votes to avert a government shutdown this weekend.

Feinstein announced months ago that she wouldn't seek re-election in 2024, and three major Democrats — Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee — are currently running to succeed her. 


Senator Dianne Feinstein obituary photo

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., has died. She was 90.  (Fox News)

But with more than a year left in Feinstein's Senate term, Newsom will now need to replace her, and the governor's decision is sure to anger some people.

The California governor earlier this year — amid Feinstein's worsening health issues — committed to appointing a Black woman if the senator passed.


But he recently said that if he needed to name a Senate replacement, he would appoint a caretaker. 

"Yes. Interim appointment. I don’t want to get involved in the primary," Newsom said earlier this month in an NBC News interview. "It would be completely unfair to the Democrats that have worked their tail off. That primary is just a matter of months away. I don’t want to tip the balance of that."

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with Fox News Digital

California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks with Fox News Digital in the spin room at the second GOP presidential debate, at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California, on Wednesday. (Fox News - Paul Steinhauser)

That was a blow to Lee, who is Black. Her allies believed she was Newsom’s first choice to fill a potential vacancy. Lee criticized the governor after his recent comments.

Feinstein's death will lead to Newsom elevating both of the Golden State's senators. He named then-California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to the Senate in early 2021 after incumbent Kamala Harris stepped down from her position to assume the vice presidency. 

Newsom praised Feinstein in an official statement from the governor's office.

"Dianne Feinstein was many things — a powerful, trailblazing U.S. Senator; an early voice for gun control; a leader in times of tragedy and chaos. But to me, she was a dear friend, a lifelong mentor, and a role model not only for me, but to my wife and daughters for what a powerful, effective leader looks like," Newsom wrote.

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