Washington — California Governor Gavin Newsom pledged to replace Senator Dianne Feinstein with a Black woman should the longtime Democratic senator resign her seat before the end of her term, he said in an interview Monday.
Newsom, who is facing a recall effort in response to his coronavirus restrictions and handling of the pandemic, made the comment during an interview on MSNBC when was asked whether he would appoint a Black woman to fill Feinstein's seat if she were to retire.
"I have multiple names in mind," Newsom said of possible candidates to succeed the senator.
Feinstein, however, told reporters Tuesday she intends to serve her full term.
"I don't think he meant that the way some people thought," the senator said of Newsom, adding "you're making a mountain out of a molehill."
At 87 years old, Feinstein is the Senate's oldest sitting member and will be up for reelection in 2024, when she will be 91 years old. She stepped down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee ahead of the start of this Congress and has faced calls from California progressives to retire, which grew following an article in The New Yorker that raised questions about her mental faculties.
Newsom, meanwhile, is under pressure to appoint a Black woman to fill California's next open Senate seat after failing to do so when Kamala Harris was elected vice president. Harris was the only Black woman in the upper chamber.
The governor instead selected Alex Padilla, California's secretary of state, to replace Harris, and he became the first Latino to represent the state in the Senate.