May 29, 2023  |  
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Ramsey Touchberry

NextImg:Rep. Barbara Lee enters crowded California Dem. primary to replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein

Rep. Barbara Lee officially announced Tuesday her candidacy to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein, as liberals jockey for the U.S. Senate seat that the 89-year-old Californian has held for more than three decades.

Ms. Lee, whose candidacy was expected, joins fellow Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter in vying for the Democratic nomination next year in the heavily blue state.

“The Senate needs a perspective that I bring with my life experiences, as a progressive Black woman who not only fights for what is right, but also gets the job done,” Ms. Lee told KTVU, the local Fox News affiliate. “I have a proven record, I have experience on many issues working with Democrats and Republicans to get the job done. That gap needs to be filled.”

Ms. Lee is a longtime member of Congress, having served in the House since 1998, and has made issues like social justice and environmental protections some of her top priorities.

“The climate crisis has got to be a priority for me, it is now,” she said. “Secondly, housing, it’s unconscionable we have so many unsheltered people, and I think the federal government should do more.”

Mrs. Feinstein, who has faced questions about her cognitive health in recent years, revealed last week she would not seek reelection. Mr. Schiff and Ms. Porter had already thrown their hats into the ring weeks before her announcement.

All three of the Democratic candidates are staunch progressives compared to Mrs. Feinstein, who has at times irked colleagues for her support of the Senate filibuster rule that requires a 60-vote threshold rather than a simple majority.

Mr. Schiff is considered the leading candidate, with national name recognition as a former Trump impeachment manager and former chair of the House Intelligence Committee. In addition, he has been endorsed by former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Ms. Lee took a swipe at her primary rivals by suggesting she is the only one who has been committed to progressive causes throughout her career rather than “tinkering around the edges.”

“When you look at the issues I’ve championed over the years, some call me the OG: Not original genius, it’s original gangster,” she said. “I’ve been out there fighting for structural change, institutional change, not tinkering around the edges.”

• Ramsey Touchberry can be reached at

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