(KTXL) — What would happen if Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been under growing pressure to resign for weeks due to her extended absence from the Senate, decided to step down from her position?
Her resignation could result in a temporary appointee or none at all, and it would also trigger elections for two terms.
Governor can designate an appointee
If Feinstein were to resign early, Gov. Gavin Newsom has the power to appoint a person to serve temporarily until the next general election.
Because Feinstein’s current term was already coming to an end in January 2025, Californians would again find themselves voting on two U.S. Senate races in 2024, as they did in 2022.
One race would decide who would finish out the partial term from November to January, and the second race would decide who would be California’s U.S. Senator for the next full 6-year term.
However, the law does not require Newsom to appoint a senator before an election, so the position could theoretically remain open until an election takes place.
Feinstein takes a leave for medical reasons
Feinstein has been away from the Senate since February while recovering from shingles.
Members of her own party, particularly progressives, have called on Feinstein to resign as her absence is holding up some democratic priorities such as confirming federal judges.
Inside California Politics
•Economist Chris Thornberg discusses California’s economic outlook
•LA Times Reporter Ben Oreskes discusses his exchange with Feinstein
•Political Reporter Eytan Wallace discusses CEQA reform proposal
•SF Chronicle Reporter Joe Garofoli discusses Feinstein’s return to DC
Earlier this year Feinstein, 89, announced she would not be seeking re-election in 2024 and a number of Democratic representatives have already announced their campaigns to succeed her.
Rep. Ro Khanna, who is co-chairing Rep. Barbara Lee’s 2024 Senate campaign and is one of the most vocal proponents of Feinstein’s resignation, said Newsom should appoint a “caretaker” to the Senate who would promise not to run in 2024.
Appointees usually gain an advantage when they seek to be elected for their position since they serve for some time and are able to build name recognition.
California recently went through this process
Newsom appointed Alex Padilla to the U.S. Senate after then-Senator Kamala Harris ascended to the vice presidency. Padilla later won the elections for the partial and full terms of U.S. Senator.
Padilla’s appointment came as a disappointment to some who had hoped a Black woman would be chosen to replace Harris, who was the last Black woman to serve in the Senate.
Following Padilla’s appointment, Newsom was asked in an interview on MSNBC if he would appoint a Black woman to the Senate should Feinstein resign.
“We have multiple names in mind and the answer is yes,” Newsom said.