Back in 2021, Newsom promised he would appoint a Black woman to Feinstein's seat if it became open. On Sunday, Lee called his comments "insulting" to Black women and said she was "troubled" by them.
Lee's full statement:
"I am troubled by the Governor’s remarks. The idea that a Black woman should be appointed only as a caretaker to simply check a box is insulting to countless Black women across this country who have carried the Democratic Party to victory election after election. "There are currently no Black women serving in the Senate. Since 1789, there have only been two Black woman Senators, who have served a total of 10 years. "The perspective of Black women in the U.S. Senate is sorely needed -- and needed for more than a few months. Governor Newsom knows this, which is why he made the pledge in the first place. "If the Governor intends to keep his promise and appoint a Black woman to the Senate, the people of California deserve the best possible person for that job. Not a token appointment. "Black women deserve more than a participation trophy. We need a seat at the table."
The only two Black female senators were both Democrats.
Carol Moseley-Braun (D-Ill.) was the first Black woman elected to the Senate back in 1992 and served until 1999. Vice President Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) was the second Black woman elected to the Senate.
Newsom made the comments during an interview with NBC's Chuck Todd Sunday.
In response to Lee's criticism, Newsom's Senior Advisor for Communications & Strategy Anthony York told KTVU "[It's] a hypothetical on top of a hypothetical. There is no vacancy for any U.S. Senate seat, nor does the Governor anticipate there will be one. Voters will have their say on who should replace Senator Feinstein when they go to the polls less than 6 months from now" when asked for comment.
Feinstein has faced calls for resignation from her own party after she was absent for several months due to a health issue. The senator has said she will not resign, but also not run for re-election in 2024.
Feinstein is currently the oldest member of the Senate at 90 years old and took office over 30 years ago.
Politicians running for her seat include Reps. Adam Schiff, Katie Porter, and Barbara Lee.