Rep. Barbara Lee files to run for Senate

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) filed paperwork on Wednesday to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein's Senate seat in 2024, according to her campaign.

"The campaign is taking the necessary steps to prepare and the Congresswoman will have more to say by the end of the month," a spokesperson said to KTVU.

The congressional district Lee represents covers Oakland, Alameda, Berkeley, and other parts of the East Bay.

If elected, she would be the only Black woman in the Senate. Lee is known as a progressive and was the only member of Congress to vote against the invasion of Afghanistan after the 9/11 attack.

"Barbara Lee has looked at this seat for some time and wants to see herself as a progressive icon," political science professor David McCuan said. "She is a progressive icon if you look at her career. But can she muster the forces and the dollars that it's going to take to compete?"

On Tuesday, Feinstein, 89, announced that she would not seek re-election, capping off a 30-year career in the Senate.

"The time is now," Feinstein told reporters on Tuesday after the official announcement.

She plans to remain in Congress through the end of her current term.

Feinstein, whose groundbreaking political career shattered gender barriers from San Francisco’s City Hall to the corridors of Capitol Hill, is the oldest member of Congress.

The fight for the safely Democratic seat 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.

"It's going to take $4 to $5 million a week come August next year to win this race if you want to be California's next senator," McCuan said. 

Democratic U.S. Rep. Katie Porter was the first contender for the seat. Porter, a leader in Congress’ progressive wing, built a reputation for her tough questioning of CEOs and other witnesses at congressional hearings.

"Katie Porter is going to try to grab that progressive mantra. She’s going to try to get in that network that was represented by Elizabeth Warren nationally," McCuan said. "Adam Schiff will try to get the establishment behind him for the Democratic Party."

Democratic U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff announced his candidacy last month and has secured the endorsement of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. 

Schiff took on a prominent role as the lead prosecutor in former President Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial.

"We are all rivals of the same flag, all progressives," Schiff said. "I think what sets me apart is I have a track record of getting things done for the people of California."

But with dozens of Democrats sparring, Republicans are looking for a path to victory. No GOP candidate has been elected to statewide congressional office since 2006.

Political experts expect the California GOP to put forth a potential female candidate who is more moderate, less partisan, and either famous or from Hollywood.

"We will recruit a strong candidate who is ready to take the fight to the overcrowded Democrat field by exposing their far-left policies and agenda while delivering a strong message for how Republicans can improve the lives of all Californians," said California GOP Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson.

Feinstein's term isn't up until next year. She said she won't endorse anyone for several months.

The primary election is set for March 5, 2024.