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Black Women Governor Newsom Could Appoint To Fill Diana Feinstein's Senate Seat 

Source: Kent Nishimura / Getty

The death of longtime Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has left many not only wondering who will fill her very important senate seat, but also who can live up to her legacy.

Feinstein died Thursday, Sept. 28, at the age of 90 following more than three decades on Capitol Hill as the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate. The cause of her death was not immediately reported, but her health had come under increasing scrutiny in recent months, during which time she had missed dozens of votes.

Now, California Gov. Gavin Newsom is in the spotlight, as he’s pledged in the past to appoint a Black woman if there was ever a Senate vacancy.

In 2020, after then-California Sen. Kamala Harris became  Vice President of the United States, Newsom nominated Alex Padilla, who became the first Latino to represent California in the U.S. Senate. 

During a 2021 interview on MSNBC, Newsom was asked directly if he would nominate a Black woman if he had the opportunity.

“The answer is yes,” Newsom replied.

Black Women Governor Newsom Could Appoint To Fill Diana Feinstein's Senate Seat 

Source: MediaNews Group/Los Angeles Daily News via Getty Images / Getty

He later clarified that he would make an “interim appointment” of a Black woman for any Senate vacancy but that person would not be a current candidate for Feinstein’s seat.

Rep. Barbara Lee, a Black woman who is campaigning to fill Feinstein’s seat in the general election next year, said she was insulted by Newsom’s response.

“The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election,” Lee responded. “Black women deserve more than a participation trophy. We need a seat at the table.”

The Black Lives Matter movement also posted an online petition explaining why it was so important for Newsom to appoint a Black woman, in particular.

“Appointing a Black woman to this seat is nonnegotiable — this must be done. Our government is about representation of the people, and as we saw in this election, Black people, and more specifically Black women, are constantly showing up for democracy,” the group said in part of a statement accompanied with the petition. “If there is not a single Black woman in the Senate, then the Senate is simply not a proper representation of the people.”

We’re really not sure who Gov. Gavin Newsom will appoint to fill the late great Senator Feinstein’s seat, but we’ve created a list of possible candidates that would do an amazing job in the Senate.

Check out our list below.

1. Shirley Weber, the California Secretary Of State

Shirley Weber, the California Secretary Of State

Shirley Nash Weber, Ph.D. is California’s Secretary of State. She is California’s first Black Secretary of State and only the fifth Black person to serve as a state constitutional officer in California’s 173-year history. She was nominated by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2020 and voters elected her to a full term in 2022. Weber has a rich history of fighting to expand civil rights for all Californians, including restoring voting rights for individuals who have served prison time. 

Before becoming Secretary of State, Weber served four terms as an Assembly Member representing California’s 79th Assembly District, representing several cities and communities in the San Diego region. 

During her time in the Assembly, Weber chaired the Assembly Elections and Redistricting Committee, Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Public Safety, and Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Health. She was also the first Black person to serve as the chair of the Assembly Budget Committee and served as a member of the Standing Committees on Education, Higher Education, Elections, Budget, Banking and Finance.

2. Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles County supervisor

Holly Mitchell, a Los Angeles County supervisor

Holly J. Mitchell is a Los Angeles County Supervisor who was elected in 2020. Her main focus while in her position has been alleviating poverty countywide. 

Within her first year, she passed a landmark guaranteed income program, made LA County the first in the nation to phase out urban oil drilling and has worked to strengthen the County’s response time to mental health crises among unhoused residents.

Before serving on the first all-women-led Board of Supervisors in the history of LA County, Mitchell served for a decade in the California Legislature as a representative for the 54th Assembly District and 30th Senate District, both in Los Angeles County.

During her time in the Assembly, she helped pass over 90 bills including the anti-hair discrimination law The CROWN Act.

3. Angela Glover Blackwell, civil rights lawyer and the founder of PolicyLink

Angela Glover Blackwell, civil rights lawyer and the founder of PolicyLink, Source:policylink

Angela Glover Blackwell is a civil rights lawyer in Oakland and Founder in Residence at PolicyLink, the organization she started in 1999 to advance racial and economic equity for all.

PolicyLink has gained national prominence in the movement, using public policy to improve access and opportunity for all low-income people and communities of color, particularly in the areas of health, housing, transportation, and infrastructure. She also hosts a podcast called Radical Imagination and is a Professor of Practice at the Goldman School of Public Policy, University of California, Berkeley.

Before creating PolicyLink, Blackwell served as Senior Vice President at The Rockefeller Foundation and founded the Urban Strategies Council.

 In 2020, Blackwell was appointed by California Governor Gavin Newsom to the state Task Force on Business and Jobs Recovery.

4. Taisha Brown, Vice Chair to the Affirmative Action Committee to the California Democratic Party

Taisha Brown Source:twitter/x

Taisha Brown is President of the Martin Luther King Jr. Democratic Club as well as the Vice Chair to the Affirmative Action Committee to the California Democratic Party. She is also the Corresponding Secretary for the California Democratic Parties African American Caucus.

As an activist, Brown has worked extensively with extensively within her Union SEIU Local 1000 as a member leader advocating on behalf of fellow workers and the community.

Brown has also been newly elected as Vice Chair to the San Diego County Democratic Party Central Committee.

5. San Francisco Mayor London Breed

San Francisco Mayor London Breed

London Nicole Breed is the 45th mayor of the City and County of San Francisco. Mayor Breed is the first African-American woman Mayor in San Francisco’s history.

During her administration, she has prioritized policies and programs to address public safety, economic recovery, housing and homelessness, workforce development, transportation, and climate change.

As mayor, she’s also expanded housing and shelter for the homeless and expanded solutions for those struggling with addiction and mental illness.

Safety initiatives have been a priority for Mayor Breed. She has championed safety initiatives to build back police staffing, implement police reform and support alternatives to policing through community ambassador programs and the Street Crisis Response Team. 

Mayor Breed has also launched a program called Opportunities for All, which provides San Francisco youth with paid internships, as well as the Dream Keeper Initiative, which addresses economic and other disparities in San Francisco’s diverse Black communities.

6. Aja Brown, Politician and former Mayor of Compton

Aja Brown was the Mayor of Compton from 2013 to 2021. While mayor, she was able to reduce violent activity and crime by about 65 percent, as well as address existing problems such as youth development, infrastructure, education and economic development.

In 2018, she ran for United States Home of Representatives in California’s 44th congressional district but lost to incumbent Nanette Barragán.

Since he time as mayor, she’s established one of the nation’s largest Guaranteed Basic Income pilots through the Compton Community Development Corporation that she co-founded.

She also lends her expertise in the private sector focused on driving equitable solutions that enhance economic and health outcomes for communities around the United States.