California Governor Gavin Newsom may have boxed himself in if ailing Democrat Senator Dianne Feinstein retires after he vowed to appoint a woman of color if the seat opened up, and in the current racially charged environment, he will be under intense pressure to deliver or face backlash from black residents who are already perturbed over his waffling on reparations payments.
With disgraced former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff (R-Calif.) being the preferred choice of Speaker Emeritus Nancy Pelosi, who still wields enormous clout, Newsom could look to an unconventional choice with practically unrivaled star power who would appease black voters and stifle critics, entertainment mogul Oprah Winfrey.
The 89-year-old Feinstein finally returned to the Senate two weeks ago as demands from members of her own party for her to hang it up were growing in volume, including from opinion leader Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). But she was clearly not in good shape, reportedly not even realizing that she had been gone and leading to calls of elder abuse, and lawmakers like Rep. Ro Khanna (R-Calif.) have continued to insist that she call it a career a month shy of her 90th birthday.
With DiFi’s condition in an advanced stage of deterioration and going downhill fast, it becomes increasingly likely that Newsom may soon find himself in a situation where he will have to tab a replacement, and like then-candidate Joe Biden, he has already eliminated all other possibilities but a black woman, having made the promise in 2021 to MSNBC’s Joy Reid, one for which he is not going to be easily able to wriggle off the hook.
Joy Reid: “If Dianne Feinstein were to retire,will you nominate an African American woman to restore the seat since Kamala Harris is no longer in the Senate ?And do you have a name in mind ?
Gavin Newsom: “We have multiple names in mind,the answer is yes” pic.twitter.com/DlXxpGBb3D
— IT’S TIME FOR JUSTICE (@LiddleSavages) March 16, 2021
According to an Associated Press report, Winfrey is among the names that have been floated as an option which would allow the governor to not be seen as favoring one of the three Democrat House members who are circling DiFi’s seat like hungry vultures, with the only black one being Rep. Barbara Lee, a vocal champion of the reparations monster that Newsom unleashed. Picking her would be bad news for Schiff and likely wouldn’t sit well with Pelosi who has been lobbying for her protege, and it has been reported that the scheming ex-speaker is the hidden hand propping up Feinstein.
Weekend at Nancy’s: Pelosi’s plot to keep Feinstein in Congress revealedhttps://t.co/mGumORDETG
— American Wire News (@americanwire_) May 19, 2023
If Feinstein is forced to call it a career due to her serious medical issues, Winfrey could be an out for Newsom with her skin color satisfying those who are pressuring him and her superstardom, arguably only second to Michelle Obama when it comes to African-American female Democrats, would neutralize any grousing from Pelosi, Schiff and Rep. Katie Porter, the other left-wing lawmaker in the mix.
“Newsom must honor his promise to appoint a black woman,” said Democrat State Assemblymember Lori Wilson who heads up the state’s Legislative Black Caucus. “I trust him at his word. We currently have zero Black women in the Senate, so if the opportunity becomes available the governor must act to help remedy this lack of representation.”
Going back on his pledge to pick a black woman to fill a Senate vacancy could be political suicide for the ambitious Newsom, who clearly has his eye on the White House, possibly as early as next year if the unthinkable happens and another octogenarian, President Joe Biden is also shoved out the door by Democrats.
“The last thing you want to do if you are thinking about running for president is alienating the nominating wing of the Democratic Party,” Claremont McKenna College political scientist Jack Pitney said, according to AP, pointing out that “the candidate favored by black voters has won the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination for every cycle since 1992.”
Newsom can ill-afford a stumble with black voters who are already wary of him after he recently downplayed the prospect of reparations checks, telling Fox News Digital through a spokesperson that reparations “is about much more than cash payments,” before walking it back after intense criticism.
AP suggests that Winfrey could be an option as a “caretaker” candidate as “a celebrity who is black and happens to meet Newsom’s appointment pledge” although it could be “challenging to land on someone willing to take a short-term appointment.”
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