Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee on Tuesday announced her campaign for US Senate in California, joining a competitive Democratic primary to fill retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat.
“Today I am proud to announce my candidacy for U.S. Senate. I’ve never backed down from doing what’s right. And I never will. Californians deserve a strong, progressive leader who has delivered real change,” she said in a tweet announcing her campaign.
A campaign announcement video highlights her record, including the fact she was the lone vote against the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force, which authorized the war in Afghanistan, as well as more personal aspects of her life such as her decision to have an abortion as a teenager.
“We have to ease the burden on the middle class. We have to find a solution to poverty and homelessness. We have to take on the climate crisis. And we have to stop these MAGA extremists who think they can control people’s bodies and dismantle our democracy,” she says in the video.
Lee was first elected to the House in 1998 in a special election and has been reelected 13 times. She’s a member of House Democratic leadership, serving as co-chair of the Democratic Steering Committee, and was the former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus. Throughout her time in Congress, Lee has served as the co-chair and whip of the Progressive Caucus. Before coming to Washington, Lee spent several years serving in the California state legislature.
If elected, she would be the sole Black female senator serving in the Congress and only the third in US history.
Lee joins two other high-profile House Democrats from California who launched their campaigns last month.
Fellow progressive Rep. Katie Porter gained prominence among Democrats for her tough questioning in House Oversight Committee hearings and has been endorsed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts. And Rep. Adam Schiff, the former lead House manager for Donald Trump’s first impeachment trial, has the backing of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
Other potential candidates in the primary could include San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra, who formerly served in Congress and was California attorney general. Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna has publicly said he’s weighing a decision, but has told CNN that he’d wait to see what Lee decides.
Feinstein, the longest-serving female US senator, announced last week that she will not run for reelection in 2024, freeing up the seat in the largest state. Lee had filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission last week, teeing up her entry into the race.
This story has been updated with additional background information.