The race is on to succeed Vice President-elect Kamala Harris in the Senate.
Fox News has been told for months that California Secretary of State Alex Padilla is the odds-on favorite to step into Harris’ seat. But Fox News is also told to watch California Attorney General Xavier Becerra, Rep. Karen Bass, Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda Solis and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia.
California Democratic Governor Gavin Newsom picks Harris’ Senate successor. And Fox News has been told that it’s not out of the question for Newsom to appoint himself.
Gov. Gavin Newsom, left, flanked by California Air Resources Board Chair Mary Nichols and California Attorney General Xavier Becerra. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
That said, there is intense pressure in California to tap a Latino or Latina for Harris’s seat. Forty percent of California is Latino.
There are also geographic considerations. Southern California has more people. But someone from Southern California hasn’t represented the Golden State in the Senate since former Sen. Pete Wilson, R-Calif., in the early 1990s – and he was from San Diego. The Los Angeles metro area has long felt left out compared to the Bay area to the north. Moreover, there are concerns that Padilla, in particular, may not be progressive enough to satisfy liberal groups.
And, it’s possible that California may soon be looking at two open Senate seats.
Multiple Congressional sources tell Fox that they expect 87-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., to bow out before the end of her term. Feinstein was reelected in 2018 and is the oldest senator.
There was significant outcry among liberals over how Feinstein handled the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee. Many liberals criticized Feinstein for not being more aggressive. They were particularly outraged at Feinstein hugging Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., at the end of the hearing. They also took issue with Feinstein telling Graham that the Barrett exercise was “one of the best sets of hearings that I’ve participated in.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks during the confirmation hearing for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett, before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Bonnie Cash/Pool via AP)
Some liberals have called for Senate Democrats to remove her as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel.
Fox News was told by a prominent Democrat that all of the California Democrats politicians want a Senate seat, suggesting even Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti would love a California Senate seat.
But the Democratic source says there is an optics issue – arguing you cannot replace Kamala Harris — the first black woman to be elected vice president — with someone like Rep. Adam Schiff. But if Feinstein is heading for the exits, then two California Democrats could be heading to the Senate.
However, no one knows if a possible vacancy could come sooner or later – or, at all. There has been early chatter about some sort of position (not Cabinet level) for Feinstein in a Biden administration. Regardless, the possibility of two Senate seats could help soothe concerns among different factions in the Democratic party. Newsom could choose between a moderate Democrat and a liberal Democrat. Or, satisfy the northern/southern geographical concern. Or, tap a Latino/Latina and an African American.
“I don’t know why Gavin (Newsom) wouldn’t claim one of these two seats for himself,” said one Democratic Congressional source.
“Who wants to be the governor of California for the next two years?” the person added, pointing to state budget and pandemic issues.
Fox News’ Jason Donner and Mike Emanuel contributed to this report.