Following Confusion Over Vote, Feinstein to Return to California for August Recess

Sen. Dianne Feinstein plans to return to California for the first time in nearly three months, her spokesperson told The Chronicle. She has remained in Washington, D.C., since her reappearance in May after having shingles.

Feinstein’s actions and whereabouts have drawn increased scrutiny since her return, including an incident Thursday in which she appeared confused during a vote. It came close on the heels of a separate incident in which Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., suddenly stopped speaking and froze for 19 seconds during a news conference Wednesday until he was escorted away by Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., who is a physician. McConnell was absent from the Senate for about a month earlier this year after being hospitalized with a concussion and a minor rib fracture.

While voting to approve an annual defense appropriations bill in committee Thursday, Feinstein got into a brief back-and-forth with Chairwoman Patty Murray, D-Wash. 

Feinstein’s name was called to vote and Murray immediately told her “say aye. Aye.” Feinstein paused as if she was going to say more, and Murray repeated, “just say aye.” Feinstein then began reading from her remarks about the bill, and Murray again said, “just say aye.”

The Appropriations Committee markup was chaotic, her spokesperson Ron Eckstein said, and Feinstein had not realized debate had ended and votes were being taken.

It wasn’t the first time Feinstein appeared to be confused during a recent vote.

Feinstein mistakenly voted to support a Republican amendment to a Supreme Court ethics bill she sponsored June 20. She later corrected her vote. Eckstein said it’s common for members to need to correct their votes because they’re often moving between multiple committees.

Lawmakers often fly back to their home states during weekends or weeklong “district work periods.” The Senate was scheduled for breaks the week of May 22 and the weeks of June 26 and July 3, during which Feinstein remained in Washington. The annual August recess is set to begin July 28. Lawmakers are not expected to return to Washington until after Labor Day.

Feinstein returned to Washington May 9 after a nearly three-month absence while ill with a serious bout of shingles. She has only missed 10 of the 86 votes since her return to the Senate, and she hasn’t missed a single one since the beginning of June, according to a Chronicle analysis. 

Feinstein plans to meet with constituents in her office and attend some public events, including a celebration of the San Francisco cable cars on Aug. 2, Eckstein said.

Click here to read the full article in the SF Chronicle

Growing Number Of Voters Favor Senator Feinstein’s Resignation

‘She has had quite the legacy, and now she is really tainting it by just staying in at this point’

Reports this week which found Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) health condition was actually much worse than reported led to a resurgence of California voters to signify favor for her resignation on Friday, with polls showing that even voters in Feinstein’s home city of San Francisco are polarized.

The latest push for resignation goes back to February when, shortly after announcing she would not be running again for the Senate in 2024, Feinstein returned to California to recover from shingles. While she was expected back sometime in March, this did not happen. Her absence caused problems in the Senate Judiciary Committee where a logjam of federal judge nominees began to build as she was the deciding vote given the razor thin Democratic majority in the Senate.

Last month, with Sen. Feinstein’s recovery taking longer than expected, she temporarily left the Judiciary Committee, hoping to have an interim replacement cover for her. However, Republicans rejected the plan, forcing the Committee to only approve Judges whom members from both parties could agree on. With many potential judges held back, critical Senate votes coming up that were reliant on passage with a vote from Feinstein, and concerns growing about her health, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) began to lead the charge to get her to resign. At it’s peak, dozens of Congressional members, Senators, and leftist/liberal groups pressured Feinstein to resign.

Pressure somewhat dissipated last week when Feinstein returned to Washington and resumed her job as Senator. However, this was short lived, as it was soon revealed that, in addition to having shingles, she also had encephalitis, which is brain inflammation brought on by another illness, and Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, a complication of shingles that goes after facial nerves.

“While the encephalitis resolved itself shortly after she was released from the hospital in March, she continues to have complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome,” confirmed her office.

With Feinstein also appearing confused as to what she actually had, including denying that she had encephalitis and instead had the flu, many in California began to once again challenge having Feinstein in office.

Recent polls have shown that the numbers are decidedly not in her favor. A poll last month found that 64% of Democrats and 71% of Republicans want Feinstein to resign. In fact, the majority being in favor of her resigning went across the board, with every demographic including gender, age, race, and ideology want her to resign. Her “lowest” numbers came with voters making under $50,000 a year and African Americans, with only 59% of each group favoring resignation.

And this extends to San Francisco. An impromptu poll of people inside San Francisco City Hall by the New York Times on Thursday found that support is mixed, a far cry from only a few years ago when most inside were rocks of support.

“The majority, in many cases two-thirds of voters, of every demographic want Feinstein gone,” Russell Martin, a political advisor in the Bay Area, told the Globe Friday. “And now even people in San Francisco have had enough. The sad thing is, she has had quite the legacy, and now she is really tainting it by just staying in at this point. I mean, she was a popular Supervisor, Mayor, and Senator. She did so much for the city and country. And now her legacy won’t be that, but of the Senator who just lingered in there for years because she was too selfish to pass the torch. Ideologies are very different, but this is like what happened to [Former Congressman] Strom Thurmond in the 90s and early 2000s.

Click to read the full article at the California Globe

Republicans Balk at Plan to Replace Feinstein on Judiciary

WASHINGTON (AP) — Democrats’ efforts to temporarily replace California Sen. Dianne Feinstein on the Senate Judiciary Committee met quick opposition Monday from Republicans, complicating their plan as some of President Joe Biden’s judicial nominees remain on hold during her extended medical absence.

Feinstein, 89, last week asked to be temporarily replaced on the Senate Judiciary Committee while she recuperates in her home state from a case of the shingles. The statement came shortly after a member of California’s House delegation, Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna, called on her to resign from the Senate, saying it is “unacceptable” for her to miss votes to confirm judges who could be weighing in on abortion rights, a key Democratic priority. Feinstein has been away from the Senate since February.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Monday that he is moving forward and hopes to put a resolution on the Senate floor this week seeking a temporary substitute on the panel. But it’s unclear if Democrats will have the votes.

Multiple Republicans indicated on Monday that they would object to the rare request, meaning there would have to be a roll call vote — and Democrats would need at least 10 Republicans to vote with them for approval.

Texas Sen. John Cornyn, a Republican on the Judiciary committee, said on the Senate floor that he hopes to see Feinstein back in the Senate soon, but “until then, President Biden’s most controversial, partisan judicial nominees will have to wait.”

Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst, a member of Republican leadership, said she wouldn’t support a temporary replacement. “We’re not going to help the Democrats with that,” she told reporters.

The uncertainty over Feinstein’s status, and over the fate of some of Biden’s judicial nominees, is the latest tangle for Schumer as he navigates his party’s one-seat majority in the Senate. Feinstein’s absence comes as another Democratic senator, John Fetterman of Pennsylvania, has also been on an extended medical leave. Fetterman, 53, returned to the Senate on Monday after checking himself into the hospital in February for clinical depression.

It also comes as bipartisan votes on federal judgeships — lifetime appointments, in most cases — have been increasingly steeped in partisanship. While the Judiciary committee has moved some of Biden’s judicial nominees with a handful of GOP votes, Republicans are loath to give approval to a plan that will help Biden place more judges on the bench.

“I will not go along with Chuck Schumer’s plan to replace Senator Feinstein on the Judiciary Committee and pack the court with activist judges,” tweeted Sen. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., a member of the Judiciary panel.

Democrats say the are currently 12 federal judge nominees they have been unable to advance because of Feinstein’s absence. It is unclear how many of the nominees would be able to move with some Republican support.

Several Republicans questioned the motivations behind the effort. North Carolina Sen. Thom Tillis said he was skeptical because Democrats aren’t trying to replace Feinstein on the Intelligence or Appropriations panels.

“Why one and not all three?” asked Tillis, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee.

Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Chuck Grassley of Iowa said they think Democrats are pressuring Feinstein unfairly.

Collins said that she and Feinstein are good friends, and she thinks there has been a “concerted campaign” to push her off the Judiciary committee. “I will have no part of that,” Collins said.

Feinstein has come under increasing pressure to resign or step down from her duties. While she has defended her effectiveness, she has faced questions in recent years about her cognitive health and memory, and has appeared increasingly frail.

In 2020, she said she would not serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel after criticism from liberals about her handling of of Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation. Earlier this year, she said she would not serve as the Senate president pro tempore, or the most senior member of the majority party, even though she was in line to do so. The president pro tempore opens the Senate every day and holds other ceremonial duties.

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, a longtime member of the panel who is the same age as Feinstein, chastised Democrats for denying Feinstein the opportunity to become chairman of the committee and trying to force her out of office “because she’s old.”

“I don’t intend to give credence to that sort of anti-human treatment,” Grassley said.

If Feinstein were to resign immediately, the process would be much easier for Democrats, since California Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint a replacement. The Senate regularly approves committee assignments for new senators after their predecessors have resigned or died. But a temporary replacement due to illness is a rare, if not unprecedented, request.

It is unclear how long Feinstein will be away. Her office has not given a timeline for her return, and Democrats have not said for how long they would seek a temporary replacement. She has been away from the Senate since Feb. 27, just two weeks after she announced she would not run for another term next year.

Schumer said he spoke to Feinstein in recent days, and “she believes she will return soon. She is hopeful of that and so am I.”

Asked if Feinstein should resign, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin said Monday that “I’m not going to push her into any other decision.” Durbin had previously expressed frustration about his committee’s stalled nominees.

Click here to read the full article at AP News

Schiff Leads Race in Raising Money

Burbank Democrat is far ahead of Porter and Lee in funding campaign for Senate.

In an early test of strength in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Rep. Adam B. Schiff has a notable financial edge over Reps. Katie Porter and Barbara Lee, according to federal campaign documents released Saturday.

While Schiff was widely expected to have a large war chest because he had a relatively easy reelection campaign last year, he also raised millions of dollars more than Porter, who also is known as a prodigious fundraiser.

“Schiff is in a better position than expected. Porter ended up coming shorter than expectations — she’s going to have to demonstrate that she has more fundraising depth than it appears right now. And Lee’s going to have to find another way of doing it other than lots of money, but we knew that from beginning,” said Dan Schnur, a politics professor at UC Berkeley, USC and Pepperdine University. “Schiff has a very strong advantage but it’s not prohibitive. He’s clearly the front-runner, but he shouldn’t be taking anything for granted.”

It’s early — the primary is nearly one year away and the general election isn’t until November 2024.

Schiff, Porter and Lee are the most prominent Democrats among the 18 candidates who have thus far filed to run for the seat. Attorney Eric Early is the best-known Republican, but he entered the race last week, so isn’t required to file fundraising disclosures until July.

While Schiff and Porter both raised millions of dollars in the first three months of the year, Schiff ended the first quarter of 2023 with $24.7 million cash on hand, while Porter had $9.5 million, according to fundraising disclosures posted on the Federal Election Commission’s website Saturday.

The two members of Congress are among the body’s most effective fundraisers, with Porter ranking No. 2 in the last electoral cycle, behind only now-House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Schiff ranked fourth, according to federal election records.

But Porter, a former UC Irvine law professor, had a tight reelection contest in her Orange County district last year and spent heavily to narrowly win reelection.

Schiff’s district, which includes Burbank, Glendale and West Hollywood, is heavily Democratic, allowing him to sail to reelection and bank millions of dollars more than Porter. Under federal elections law, both are allowed to transfer money raised for their House elections to their newly formed Senate campaigns.

Schiff raised $6.5 million and spent $2.8 million in the first three months of 2023, while Porter raised $4.5 million and spent $2.5 million, according to federal elections records.

The gap between the amount they could roll over into their Senate campaigns was widely expected. However, the difference between their fundraising was not, said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at UC San Diego.

“Katie Porter needed to show the ability to catch up,” he said. “She needed to make up ground, and the fact he’s moving further ahead is an important signal.”

Click here to read the full article in the LA Times

Report: Unearthed Divorce Filings Reveal Allegations Democrat Katie Porter Abused Ex-Husband

Bombshell accusations of Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) allegedly physically abusing her ex-husband surfaced on Wednesday, which come on the heels of her pattern of aggressive interpersonal interactions in recent years.

Porter was the first of three prominent House Democrats to announce their candidacies for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) seat as she heads to retirement at the culmination of her term. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), both of whom have held House seats for at least two decades, have also launched bids in the high-stakes race.

Now, just months after her campaign’s launch, documents regarding her divorce from ex-husband Matthew Hoffman found their way to the Daily Mail. 

Hoffman’s jaw-dropping accusations include accounts of Porter allegedly causing physical harm to her arms with scratch marks so she could blame it on him, allegedly assaulting him with scalding hot food in a whirlwind of rage, and allegedly breaking a glass coffee pot while having a meltdown, which injured him.

The Daily Mail’s Morgan Phillips did not provide the dates surrounding the self-harm allegations. However, she reported that an alleged incident – in which Hoffman claims Porter dumped a piping hot bowl of mashed potatoes on his head – occurred in 2006.

Hoffman asserted that while he was preparing the side dish, Porter entered the kitchen and shouted, “Can’t you read the f***ing instructions!” in front of their son after catching a glimpse of the potatoes, per Phillips.

“She then took the ceramic bowl of steaming hot potatoes and dumped it on my head, burning my scalp,” Hoffman said in the document.

The alleged coffee pot incident supposedly occurred in 2012, after the couple sought out anger management courses several years earlier, per Phillips.

Hoffman – a then-stay-at-home father – contended that Porter was infuriated their home was not tidy after she returned from work. He alleged she broke a glass coffee pot by banging it against the counter, causing him a wound. Their children were home during the alleged ordeal as she called him “incompetent” and “a f***cking slob,” Hoffman said.

Accompanying the alleged physical abuse, Hoffman said that Porter regularly hurled verbal attacks, the nature of which demeaned his intelligence. He also accused her of being shrill and short-tempered with their children, Phillips noted.

In 2018, when Porter was first running for Congress, she sat down with the Huffington Post to discuss her divorce as “[s]everal delegates to the Orange County Democratic Party Convention told Porter they’d heard rumors from a rival campaign that something in her divorce records might disqualify her in the general election,” the outlet noted.

Porter claimed at the time that Hoffman turned abusive after they separated and were still living together in 2013 while he tried to stop the divorce from proceeding.

She alleged that Hoffman punched a wall, physically pushed her, “shoved their 1-year-old daughter across the kitchen in her high chair, threatened to kill himself and once held the door of Porter’s car open to stop her from driving to a school meeting,” the Huffington Posts’s Lura Basset wrote.

According to the Mail, Porter said in court documents that Hoffman only turned violent after the separation, aside from one incident years ago.

“Porter said in divorce documents that their marriage had been ‘troubled’ for four years, leading to divorce, but her husband had ‘not acted violently’ other than one incident years earlier where Hoffman punched a wall until she began the process of leaving him,” Phillips wrote.

Details of Hoffman’s allegations come as Porter has drawn scrutiny in recent months over her interactions with a former staffer and an elected Democrat official in California.

Just months ago, she caught criticism “for allegedly punishing one of her Wounded Warrior Fellows after she accused the staffer of giving her coronavirus,” as Breitbart News’s Jordan Dixon-Hamilton reported:

Sasha Georgiades is a U.S. Navy veteran who joined Porter’s office as a Wounded Warrior Fellow in the fall of 2020. Although Georgiades’s fellowship was set to end in August 2022, she said her fellowship was cut a few weeks short after she failed to follow “office protocols” on coronavirus.

In a text to Georgiades, Porter asked why she failed to adhere to protocol, adding, “It’s really disappointing.”

The protocol she violated was “failing to take a COVID-19 test the instant she felt even slightly unwell,” Reason reported, citing Georgiades. Initially, she attributed soreness to her frequent workouts and tested only after starting to feel sick.

In response to Porter, she texted that she accepted responsibility and apologized, adding, “Just because I felt okay in the moment doesn’t mean I was.”

The next morning Porter mandated that she work remotely for the last weeks of her fellowship and steer clear of the office “given [her] failure to follow office policies.”

“Essentially, I was demoted to remote and banned from the office,” Georgiades told Fox News.

In another text, she thanked Porter for the opportunity to work in her office and noted that her “head was not in the best place” following the murder of a friend in the Navy, which she said could explain the protocol oversight.

“Well you gave me Covid,” Porter responded. “In 25 months, it took you not following the rules to get me sick. My children have nobody to care for them.”

Georiades told Fox News she thinks Porter would have outright terminated her had she not been protected by the Wounded Warrior program.

Porter also garnered scrutiny last December over a heated text exchange with Democrat Irvine, California, Mayor Farra Khan in July 2021. Porter seemingly took issue with Khan arriving at the same Mexican restaurant she was attending and told the mayor, “You have a reputation for not staying in your lane and seeking attention.”

In another text, after Khan suggested it would be “more professional” for Porter to call her. The congresswoman invoked her title as a U.S. representative and challenged the mayor for critiquing her “professionalism.”

Click here to read the full article in BreitbartCA

The 2024 California U.S. Senate Race: Where It Currently Stands Post-Feinstein

The 2024 Senate race has shifted massively in only the last few weeks

Since the last report by the Globe earlier this month, the 2024 California U.S. Senate Race For Senator Dianne Feinstein’s seat has taken numerous turns, with more potential candidates inching towards running, and others saying they won’t. With the lines currently blurred for many, the Globe decided to take another look where the race currently stands in late February.

Who is in?

With Congresswoman Barbara Lee now officially in the race, it is currently a three-way race amongst Democrats along with Congresswoman Katie Porter (D-CA) and Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA).

For Republicans, a major office-holding candidate has yet to jump in, with only Educator Denice Gary-Pandol coming in early as an official candidate. Two others have also filed to run: 2016 Oakland Mayoral candidate Peter Liu and lawyer Barack Mandela. No major third-party candidates have come in yet, although Green and Libertarian candidates are expected to file in the near future.

Who may be in?

The number of speculatory candidates has shrunk in the past several weeks, with many giving clarifying statements on their candidacy status. Last time, the Globe noted that the list included San Francisco Mayor London Breed, Congressman Lou Correa (D-CA), Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, former Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Lt. Governor Eleni Kounalakis, Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA), LA County Supervisor Holly Mitchell, and Governor Gavin Newsom.

Khanna remains the last likely candidate to join in the race, as he has continued to express interest in running, but has still yet to file any paperwork to do so. Conversely, both Breed and Schaaf declined to run following Lee’s entrance into the race, instead deciding to endorse her candidacy instead. Mitchell also refused a run for the Senate, although her reasoning was that she instead wanted to run again for LA County Supervisor. The other four potential candidates have still not said what they will do one way or the other.

As for Republicans, no others have expressed any interest in the meantime, although a run by a prominent Republican still isn’t out of the question. A run by a known celebrity or other prominent lawmaker who hasn’t been considered yet is also possible.

Who is out?

Besides Feinstein, California Attorney General Rob Bonta, Breed, Schaaf, and Mitchell, not many other have voluntarily said that they wouldn’t be running next year out of the pool of possible candidates. However, it should also be noted that decisions are expected next month.

Who is backing who?

With it so early in the process along with Feinstein’s lingering decision, few endorsements have come out this month. Previously, we noted that Katie Porter received the endorsement of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), while Adam Schiff got the majority of the California Democratic House delegation, including former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Since then, Schiff has gotten dozens of State Senators and Assemblymembers to support him, as well as Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg. Lee entering the race also triggered many endorsements coming her way, including Breed, Schaaf, former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown, a few out of state lawmakers, and United Farm Workers (UFW) co-founder Dolores Huerta. Porter has not received any more since early February.

What is coming up next?

Final decisions by remaining potential candidates are likely to be coming in through March and April, including the anticipated decision by Khanna. The lack of a Latino or Central Californian candidate could influence others to come into the race, as could resultant issues from the current declared candidates. Should several Democratic candidates falter in the coming months, others, including Republicans, may come in to fill the gap and take advantage of the situation.

Endorsements will also likely only trickle in as they have been doing as many are waiting and seeing how things go since it is still early on in the race.

Click here to read the full article in the California Globe

California 2024 US Senate Contest Kicks Off at Furious Pace

California’s U.S. Senate race is unfolding at a furious pace, with candidates reporting seven-figure fundraising and holding competing rallies and campaign events more than a year before the 2024 primary election.

The fight for the safely Democratic seat held by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who at 89 is the oldest member of Congress, is shaping up as a marquee match-up between nationally known rivals and is likely to become one of the most expensive Senate races in the country next year.

On Saturday, Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, who rose to prominence as the lead prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, gathered hundreds of supporters in a union hall parking lot for a rally in his hometown of Burbank, California, where he implored the cheering crowd, “Let’s go win this thing.”

Schiff, who announced his candidacy last month, said he was running for Senate after two decades in Congress “to build an economy that works for everyone, a democracy that will last for all time and a planet that doesn’t melt beneath our feet.”

A day earlier, Democratic U.S. Rep. Katie Porter brought her Senate campaign to Los Angeles, where she met with local leaders to discuss pollution in lower-income neighborhoods. She said such areas are often overlooked in Washington and Sacramento, where residents’ complaints about unhealthy conditions go unheard.

Porter, a leader in Congress’ progressive wing, built a reputation for her tough questioning of CEOs and other witnesses at congressional hearings — often using a whiteboard to break down information.

Other potential contenders for the seat include Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. If she runs and is elected, Lee would be the only Black woman in the Senate.

Feinstein has yet to say if she will seek a seventh term. In recent years, questions have arisen about her cognitive health and memory, though she has defended her effectiveness. However, her reticence about her future has created a publicly awkward dynamic — the race to replace her is rapidly taking shape, even as the senator remains unclear about her intentions.

Schiff’s rally, held on a nippy, mostly overcast morning, marked the start of a two-week statewide tour, with stops to include San Diego, Sacramento, Fresno and San Francisco.

He was joined by his wife Eve, one of his two children, Alexa, and David McMillan, whom the congressman mentored as a youth and considers part of his family.

After recounting his career as a federal prosecutor, state legislator and member of Congress, Schiff made clear he would anchor his campaign to his role as impeachment manager and Trump’s chief antagonist in Congress. He has been a frequent target of conservatives — Trump in particular — since the then-GOP-led House Intelligence Committee he served on started investigating Trump’s ties to Russia in the 2016 election.

He mentioned “democracy” more than a half-dozen times in the speech. He’s selling T-shirts and coffee mugs on his campaign website, with the slogan “Democracy Matters.” He called Trump, who has announced his 2024 campaign for the presidency, “a demagogue bent on destroying our democracy.”

“We investigated Trump. We impeached him. We held him accountable and then we defeated him at the ballot box,” Schiff said to cheers. “And we will defeat him again, if the GOP is foolish enough to nominate him. He will never see the inside of the Oval Office, never again.”

Trump was impeached in December 2019 on charges he abused the power of the presidency to investigate rival Joe Biden and obstructed Congress’ investigation. The Republican-led Senate acquitted Trump of both charges. In 2021, he became the first president in U.S. history to be impeached twice, this time for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol after he lost the 2020 election. He was again acquitted by the Senate.

Schiff’s other foundational issues include fighting climate change and improving the economy.

“Too many people are working multiple jobs but cannot pay the rent, afford groceries or pay for lifesaving medication,” he said. “Too many children are growing up in poverty and hungry.”

Schiff and Porter, both prolific small-dollar fundraisers, already are dueling over campaign dollars and endorsements. Former Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco is backing Schiff, providing Feinstein retires, and Porter is supported by Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

What Nancy Pelosi’s Endorsement Means For the California Senate Race

House Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi — who rarely weighs in on Democrat-versus-Democrat races — is endorsing Burbank Rep. Adam Schiff for Senate if Sen. Dianne Feinstein declines to run in what will be a fiercely contested, possibly once-in-a-generation contest.

It is the strongest sign yet that Feinstein will not seek re-election in 2024. Feinstein, 89, has said she will announce her intentions by spring. Pelosi delicately nodded to her Pacific Heights neighbor’s timeline in a statement obtained by The Chronicle Thursday: “If Senator Feinstein decides to seek re-election, she has my whole-hearted support.”

If Feinstein doesn’t run, Pelosi said in the statement, “I will be supporting House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff, who knows well the nexus between a strong democracy and a strong economy. In his service in the House, he has focused on strengthening our democracy with justice and on building an economy that works for all.” Last month, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy removed Schiff from the House Intelligence Committee where has served since 2008 and chaired from 2019 to 2023.

Pelosi’s endorsement marks a rare occasion in which she is wading into a race with no incumbent and multiple high-profile Democratic House members. It is also a huge boon for Schiff. Pelosi has previously endorsed the two other Democrats seeking the seat in their House races, Rep. Katie Porter, and Rep. Barbara Lee. Porter, D-Irvine, announced her campaign last month, while Lee, D-Oakland, is expected to officially announce her run soon.

Wade Randlett, a national Democratic donor from San Francisco who supports Schiff, said that “an endorsement in any open-seat Democratic primary from the greatest speaker of all time is golden. But to get it this early when there are at least three members of her caucus running is a Willie Wonka ticket.”

Pelosi and Schiff have had a close professional relationship. She tapped him to lead the first impeachment of President Donald Trump and to the panel investigating the Jan. 6 insurrection at the Capitol.

Trump and his MAGA supporters have relentlessly targeted Pelosi and Schiff for their dogged pursuit of the former president. On Thursday, Pelosi commended Schiff’s strength in withstanding their attacks.

“Ever since I supported Adam in his race for Congress in 2000, I have known his commitment to putting the American Dream in place for everyone,” Pelosi said. “Coming from a family of immigrants, Adam has dedicated his life to public service. Every time I have asked Adam to take on the tough fight against extremist forces, he has responded with integrity, strength and success.”

Schiff said he was “deeply honored and so proud to have the support of Speaker Pelosi, who has been a friend and mentor throughout my time in Congress. She has accomplished so much for Californians, for children and for working families, and deeply understands the challenges to our democracy that lie ahead,” according to a statement obtained by The Chronicle.

Not only is Pelosi, the first female speaker of the House, one of the most popular figures in the Democratic Party, she is its most prolific fundraiser and could steer donors to Schiff. She has raised more than $1 billion for Democrats since she ascended into party leadership two decades ago.

Schiff’s campaign coffers hold nearly $21 million cash on hand, which could give him an early advantage in what is expected to be an expensive race. Porter has $7.7 million in cash on hand, according to the latest federal campaign finance report. She raised $25 million last year but had to drain much of that in an unexpectedly tough House race in a redrawn, more GOP district. Lee has only $54,940.

It is also notable that Pelosi endorsed Schiff over two women. Porter is a member of the House Progressive Caucus. Lee is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and co-chair of the Progressive Caucus. Lee plans to make representation a central theme of her campaign.

One of the challenges that Schiff may face in the primary in deep blue California is being a straight white man in a diverse state.

California was represented in the Senate by two women from 1993-2021. Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were the first women elected to the Senate from California in 1992. Kamala Harris replaced Boxer after she retired in 2016 and served until she was sworn in as vice president in early 2021. California’s other senator is Sen. Alex Padilla, who is the first Latino to represent California.

The nod from Pelosi, a pioneering woman in the political world and a role model to many, will help Schiff in that regard.

The endorsement is also unusual since Pelosi has picked her spots in weighing in on top Democrat versus Democrat contests.

She didn’t take sides in the 2008 presidential primary battle between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. In 2016, she didn’t endorse Clinton over Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders until the morning of the California primary, when she announced her support of Clinton on ABC’s “The View.”

That’s in contrast to what Pelosi had told reporters in San Francisco five weeks earlier, when she said she was withholding her endorsement so as not to dampen enthusiasm among supporters of either candidate.

“I have a responsibility to elect a Democratic House because whenever we get a new president — whomever she may be — we want that president to have the strongest possible Democratic Congress,” Pelosi said then.

She also has picked incumbents over rising Democratic stars. She endorsed Rep. Mike Honda (twice) and former Rep. Tom Lantos over now-Rep. Ro Khanna, D-Santa Clara, when Khanna challenged the incumbents. And she backed incumbent Rep. Pete Stark over now-Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Livermore, in 2012.

In choosing Schiff, Pelosi said, “America is at a crossroads. We can continue to lift our communities, strengthen our economy and defend our democracy — or let Republicans roll back our progress, threaten our freedoms and give tax breaks to the wealthy special interests. In 2024, the fight for America’s future is on the ballot.”

Click here to read the full article in the San Francisco Chronicle