When Campaigns Infect Congress

President Joe Biden meets with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy in the Oval Office of the White House on May 22, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Cheese Plate

Dianne Feinstein will turn 90 next month. She has suffered a series of health setbacks that have kept her out of the Senate, and her mental state has raised red flags among colleagues and reporters. As she is the deciding vote on the Senate Judiciary Committee, her absence has cost Democrats time filling judicial vacancies. Nancy Pelosi’s daughter is now by her side every day at the Capitol, and those familiar with the arrangement told Politico, “It’s only the most visible part of a quiet but critical role the Pelosi family has played in helping to take care of the ailing senator, both in Washington and San Francisco.”

But Feinstein is from a safe blue state in which the governor appoints an interim replacement. For all the drama and awkwardness and missed votes, why isn’t there more pressure from Democratic leadership for her to resign? 

Sure, there’s respect for her legacy and nobody can force her to do anything, but let’s be real. That’s not what any of this is about. This is because she’s from a safe blue state in which the governor appoints an interim replacement. 

Here’s the part nobody wants to say out loud: If Feinstein resigns tomorrow, California Gov. Newsom will get to pick her interim replacement and that person will a) have a leg up in the 2024 primary as a quasi-incumbent and b) owe their loyalties to Newsom. Newsom has already committed to appointing a black woman to the seat.

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