California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s appearance Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” angered Rep. Barbara Lee — and for good reason.
Newsom was asked about his previous vow to nominate a Black woman to fill Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat if she resigns before her term ends in 2025. The governor has said he does not want to make an appointment, but doubled down on his vow. to seat a black woman in what host Chuck Todd described as a temporary “gatekeeper” role. But he said nominating someone currently running for Senate — like Lee — would be unfair to his opponents and “the people of California,” who the governor said “don’t want me to make another nomination.”
The calculation here seems quite simple. If Newsom has the opportunity to nominate someone, the appointee will be a Black woman who is not running for Senate, probably does not want to run at this time, and will not serve long. In other words, it would be a way for Newsom to ally himself with black women without doing anything to stop them. In fact strengthen their power in the Senate in the long term.
A recent poll shows Lee trailing Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter — both white — in the Senate race, likely due to his opponents’ financial advantage. And Lee criticized Newsom’s symbolism on Sunday.
“I am troubled by the governor’s remarks,” she tweeted. “The idea that a Black woman should be appointed solely as a gatekeeper to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who led the Democratic Party to electoral victory after the election.”
The perspectives of Black women in the U.S. Senate are sorely needed – and for more than a few months. Governor Newsom knows this, which is why he made this commitment in the first place.
If the governor intends to keep his promise and appoint a Black woman to the Senate, the people of California deserve the best possible person for the job. This is not a symbolic appointment.
She makes a valid point. Newsom said he didn’t want to be unfair to Lee’s opponents and “the people,” but I would say he was going to have to put his own desire for diversity ahead of the will of voters anyway if he wanted to follow through to his mandate. wish. It’s no secret anybody he appointed to Feinstein’s seat — in this hypothetical scenario — would have the power to become an incumbent come election time.
What Lee is talking about is a belief that she, I, and other black people also had: that Newsom research giving this power to a black woman because he thought she deserved it. To be clear, this would have been a radical act – although I think it would have been a radical and righteous act.
Regardless, it appears Newsom is committed to squandering this opportunity if it presents itself.