“She is the only person with the courage, the vision, and the record to eradicate poverty, face down the fossil fuel industry, defend our democracy, and tirelessly advance the progressive agenda,” CBC Chairman Steven Horsford, D-Nev., wrote in a letter to Newsom on Sunday. “For these reasons, we strongly urge you to appoint Congresswoman Barbara lee to the United States Senate.”
Newsom, a Democrat, is expected to soon choose a successor to Feinstein, who died at age 90 last week. She was the longest-serving woman in the Senate, known for her advocacy of gun control measures and trying to find common ground with Republicans.
A source close to Newsom told NBC News on Friday that he will announce an interim appointment for Feinstein’s seat in the coming days.
Newsom has previously said that he’ll pick a Black women if either of the two Senates seats in his state opens up. He also said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he intends to make an “interim” appointment and not choose any of the current candidates running for Feinstein’s seat — which includes Lee, along with Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter — because it would unjustly tip the scales in the race.
In February, Feinstein announced her plans to retire at the end of her term in 2024 as she faced calls to resign over health concerns.
Lee officially announced her long-awaited Senate bid about a week after Feinstein announced her retirement plans. She jumped into the race against Schiff and Porter, two well-funded Democrats who are also seeking to the seat that Feinstein left behind.
In his letter to Newsom, Horsford nodded to Lee’s legislative record as a progressive.
“From authoring California’s first Violence Against Women Act to casting the lone vote against the Authorized Military Use of Force to saving 25 million people from the scourge of AIDS; from expanding SNAP, to authoring the Rents’ Bill of Rights, and introducing the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act; Congresswoman Barbara Lee is — without question — the best choice for this appointment,” Horsford wrote.
“Her unparalleled legislative record, longstanding leadership in the Democratic Party, and deep commitment to justice and equality cannot be equalled,” he added.
He also noted Lee’s personal hardships prior to her career in politics, such as her escape from an abusive marriage, experiencing homelessness while raising two children as a single mother, and opening a mental health clinic to serve vulnerable people in her community.
Newsom’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the caucus’ letter.
The CBC’s endorsement of Lee comes after Republican senators said they won’t try to prevent Democrats from replacing Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee.
Feinstein’s death left Democrats without a majority on the key panel, which is now split evenly, 10 to 10, between Democrats and Republicans. The even vote prevents President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees from advancing out of the committee if Democrats lack the GOP support needed to send any potential judges to the full Senate.