Experts Expound

Experts Expound: The race to replace DiFi

Reps. Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff, Katie Porter. Photo courtesy of the U.S. House of Representatives

Dianne Feinstein’s announcement she will not seek another term has sparked a furious three-way battle for the Democratic nomination to replace her. But is there a Republican dark horse in the mix? Or maybe even California Gov. Gavin Newsom? We asked our experts to weigh in.

 Who will be California’s next U.S. Senator?


“It is difficult to predict at this stage who will win the ‘24 US Senate race. Adam Schiff has benefited tremendously from the bone-headed House Republicans’ censure of him, and it looks like he will have more money than God. I think he certainly makes the run-off. Lee’s fundraising has been anemic, and I’m not sure how well Porter sells statewide, she’s kind of an acquired taste. All in all, if I had to bet, I would put my money on Schiff.”

“Safe Bet: Adam Schiff. Long-Shot Bet: Kamala Harris (appointed by Newsom after Feinstein suddenly resigns before candidate filing deadline)”

“Whoever the Democrats align behind. Republicans will be motivated to turnout for the primary, but there will be little reason for independents or Democrats to turnout as Biden will have little but a perfunctory challenge.  And Republicans won’t be voting for any of the Democratic US Senate candidates – crossover vote in the top-two primary is basically nonexistent.”

“So, the race will be decided by the progressive leaning Dems and Independents who turnout in a low turnout election. Older and whiter and very partisan.  And it will be decided in the primary as one of the Republicans will make the runoff given their disproportionately high turnout.”

If Willie Brown gets his way and Arnold runs, he’ll win.

“Sure, Dems made the top two in the last two US senate races… Feinstein vs DeLeon and Harris vs Sanchez, but 2024 will break this streak and the General will be Porter or Schiff against a Republican.”

“Adam Schiff.”

“Gavin Newsom. DiFi resigns on day of filing deadline, Newsom appoints himself and it’s off to the races.”

“Well there are two sceneries:  IF Difi steps down early, I believe Gavin appts Shirley Weber because I doubt she would actually run for it and she fits the promise “a black woman” who is qualified. If DiFi hangs in there until election I hope it’s Porter, but Schiff is better known.  I don’t think Lee gets into the top two.”

“No clue. But it’s a generational decision.”

“Barbara Lee.”

“If there is one thing I’ve learned, it is, don’t bet against Nancy Pelosi. That means it’s Adam Schiff – unless we have a gubernatorial appointment.”

“Adam Schiff.”

“Don’t write off progressive champion Barbara Lee. Voters chose Bernie Sanders decisively in California’s 2020 primary over the more moderate Biden, despite Biden’s momentum coming out of South Carolina and mounting endorsements from his other rivals. Lee’s track record of putting progressive principles ahead of Washington politics could play well among those voters. And given California’s electoral history of making the US Senate more inclusive, Lee could be favored for taking that history forward.”

“I think Schiff wins, barely. For him to get Pelosi’s support in the Bay Area, and also have Los Angeles County is truly a feat. He’s also running the table on money. I see Porter as the next governor.”

“If Willie Brown gets his way and Arnold runs, he’ll win. It would be a game changer. I think Katie Porter is the likely winner if Arnold doesn’t get in. If Gavin appoints, I have heard every prominent black woman floated up from Holly Mitchell to Oprah. Well, everyone except Barbara Lee…”

The people from whom we solicited opinions: Elizabeth Ashford, Hector Barajas, A.G. Block, Barry Brokaw, Samantha Corbin, Jon Costantino, Richard Costigan, Tim Foster, Rex Frazier, John Howard, Fiona Hutton, Gale Kaufman, Steven Maviglio, Mike MeCey, Paul Mitchell, Barbara O’Connor, Jack Ohman, Kassy Perry, Garry South, Paula Treat, Bill Wong, Daniel Zingale


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