Oprah doesn’t want Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat

If California Senator Dianne Feinstein leaves Congress before the end of her term, she will not be replaced by Oprah Winfrey.

The media mogul’s spokeswoman on Thursday threw cold water at the idea that Winfrey might make a foray into politics, saying she “is not considering the seat if it becomes vacant.”

Winfrey, who has never held public office, has repeatedly turned down calls to run for president. An endorsement from the talk show host shifts markets, prompting millions of Americans to try new diets and turning the books into bestsellers overnight.

The Montecito resident’s name had been floated in multiple media outlets as a possible replacement for Feinstein, who is frail after being hospitalized with shingles.

Feinstein, who turns 90 next month, has been away from Washington for 10 weeks and has been using a wheelchair to get to committee hearings since returning to Capitol Hill. She is visibly slimmer, with a droopy face and eyelid that is apparently caused by Ramsay Hunt syndrome, a side effect of shingles that is usually temporary.

Feinstein has pledged to serve the remainder of his term, which ends in January 2025. Three members of the House of Representatives are competing for his seat in next year’s ballot: Representatives Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) , Katie Porter (D-Irvine) and Barbara Lee (D-Oakland).

But her very public health issues have amplified concerns over whether the oldest US senator is fit to represent California’s 39 million people. His absence from the powerful Judiciary Committee has led to a delay in confirming some of President Biden’s judicial nominees.

If Feinstein leaves Congress before the November 2024 election, Governor Gavin Newsom could appoint an interim for the remainder of the term. He would be under intense pressure to name a successor immediately, as Democrats have a slim majority in the Senate.

Newsom said he would appoint a black woman to a vacant Senate seat. When Kamala Harris was sworn in as vice president and left her Senate seat in 2020, Newsom nominated Alex Padilla, who was then California’s secretary of state and became the state’s first Latino senator.

Times columnist George Skelton said in April that it would be difficult for Newsom to fill an opening in the Senate, should one arise, and threw Winfrey’s name as a possibility – almost jokingly.

Winfrey has dabbled in politics and is a reliable contributor to Democrats.

Last fall, she made headlines by supporting Democrat John Fetterman in the hotly contested race for the Pennsylvania Senate. His Republican opponent, television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz, rose to fame as “America’s doctor” on his daily talk show.

Los Angeles Times

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