"Obviously the Democrats want to have every seat that they can for upcoming issues," said Melinda Jackson, senior associate dean and political science professor at San Jose State University.
Feinstein served 31 years in the U.S. Senate and left a gaping hole on multiple committees.
"She has great seniority, being in Congress for so long, so she really did hold important positions on several committees. Particularly with the Judiciary Committee since they do confirm appointments," said Jackson.
Feinstein announced in February she would not rerun for her position, stepping down at the end of her term in 2025. Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter and Barbara Lee are the top contenders in the race.
Each made statements honoring her legacy.
Lee wrote in a statement, "California lost a trailblazer for women and a political giant today. During half a century of public service, Senator Feinstein broke glass ceilings for women and fought fearlessly for a safer, stronger, more just nation."
Schiff called her legacy "unmatched," going on to write, "Her accomplishments made our country and world a better place."
Porter called her, "a trailblazer for women in California politics."
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Earlier this month, Newsom made comments on ‘Meet the Press’ that he would not fill the open seat with anyone who wants to run for a full term, previously saying he would name a Black woman.
He said it would give the incumbent the upper hand with voters, and said it was "unfair."
"That’s exactly what happened with Alex Padilla who was appointed to fill the remainder of Kamala Harris’ term. He then was elected to the permanent seat in the next cycle," said Jackson.
If he stands by those comments, it eliminates Lee as a choice to replace Feinstein. She previously expressed disappointment at the comments.
However, when asked about the potential for replacement following the news of Feinstein’s passing, Lee said, "We have to really stop, mourn, grieve and honor her legacy. There will be a time for other discussions but right now I’m asking everyone to really pray for her family."
"Given that Senator Feinstein has been in poor health, I think there has probably been some discussion behind the scenes about possible successors," said Jackson.