Democrats Vie to for a Vacant Senate Seat

Elections & Politics Policy Brief #101 | By: William Borque | October 16, 2023
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With the recent passing of longtime California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the already-fiery race for her seat has become more fascinating.  Per law, California Governor Gavin Newsom named a replacement for the seat a day after Feinstein’s death.  His selection followed his early promise of selecting a black woman, with former labor organizer and President of Emily’s List Laphonza Butler being tapped.  Butler’s appointment has already led to some controversy amongst the current Senate candidates, with Butler refusing to state whether or not she will enter the race.

Current House representatives Adam Schiff (CA-30), Katie Porter (CA-47), and Barbara Lee (CA-12) are all active in the race, with Schiff leading most current polls. Porter is a staunch advocate against members of Congress trading individual stocks, and she garnered national media coverage when she questioned JP Morgan Jamie Dimon over low employee pay. Poll leader Schiff is more well-known for acting as House Impeachment Manager in the first impeachment of Former President Trump. Schiff was removed from the House Intelligence Committee by Former Speaker Kevin McCarthy when the GOP took control of the House in January. Finally, the third major candidate, Rep. Barbara Lee, is most well-known for being the only member of Congress to vote against authorizing military action after the September 11th attacks.

The question that many Californians are asking is if Butler will enter the race.  While she declined to answer when asked on the day of her appointment, it would be foolish to imagine that she will be content with acting as a placeholder.  The special election will be held in March of 2024, with the general election for the seat being held at the normally scheduled time in November.

Here at US Renew News, we don’t think that Butler’s potential entrance into the race will have much of an impact.  While her resume is impressive, she lacks the legislative experience of all three current frontrunners. Unfortunately, the potential impacts of Butler running would likely only hit Lee and Porter. Americans still pit individuals of the same gender against each other when deciding over their candidates. None of the candidates have a huge policy distinction that separates them from the rest, which likely makes the race easier for Schiff.

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