Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) is set to become the second prominent entrant into the Senate race to likely replace Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), two sources told The Hill.
Lee told members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) on Wednesday that she intends to dive into the race, according to one source familiar with the discussions. A second source close to the CBC told The Hill that she is planning to launch a bid.
After the CBC meeting, Lee said she did broach the issue of the Senate race with the group but did not go so far as to announce her intent to jump into the race. She said her top priority is addressing the floods in her district and across the state.
“I said there’s a time and a place that I’ll talk about this because I’m planning — but not now — to talk about it, that I’m concentrating on working with my district and with California on the devastating floods, and, with all respect to Sen. Feinstein, that there’s a time and a place to talk about it because I respect her and her decisions,” Lee said. “That what I said.”
Lee said she has spoken directly with Feinstein but did not reveal the substance of the discussion.
“There’s a time and a place to talk about it, and you’ve got to respect Sen. Feinstein for her long service,” Lee said. “We’ll talk about it when the time is right.”
Politico first reported the news.
“California deserves a Senator with a record of accomplishment and a progressive vision,” Lee said in a statement. “While the United States Senate is sorely lacking the presence of people of color, Black women in particular, today I am focused on helping Californians stay safe in this extreme weather and fighting the House Republicans extreme agenda.”
The comments come a day after Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) made her campaign for the seat official.
Lee would be the first from the Bay Area — Oakland — to announce their candidacy in the burgeoning battle to become Feinstein’s successor. Porter is based in Orange County, and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), who is also widely expected to launch a campaign, is based in Los Angeles.
Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who is another potential entrant, is also Bay Area-based, as he represents parts of Silicon Valley, Santa Clara and San Jose.
One area where Lee will have to up her game is fundraising. While Porter enters the race with more than $7 million in cash on hand, Lee has a paltry $55,000 in her campaign account.
The maneuvers also come ahead of any official word from Feinstein, who has said that she will decide whether to seek a sixth term in the spring, though she is widely expected to retire at the end of her term.
Notably, Feinstein had less than $10,000 in her campaign account as of the end of September, indicating that she could be on the verge of announcing her retirement.
Feinstein, 89, said on Tuesday that she would “make an announcement concerning my plans for 2024 at the appropriate time” but added that “everyone is of course welcome to throw their hat in the ring.” She noted that her attention and focus were on the mass flooding that has ravaged parts of California in recent days.