In a surprise move last week, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., made a qualified endorsement of fellow Democrat, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., for the U.S. Senate next year.
"If Sen. [Dianne] Feinstein decides to seek re-election, she has my whole-hearted support," Pelosi, said of the 89-year-old Feinstein, who is almost sure to announce her retirement after more than 30 years in office, "If she decides not to run, I will be supporting [former ] House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff, who knows well the nexus between a strong democracy and a strong economy."
The surprise element in Pelosi's blessing is that it comes as three other Democratic House members from the Golden State are vying for Feinstein’s seat: Rep. Katie Porter of Orange County, who was the first to announce for the Senate; Rep. Barbara Lee of Oakland, a onetime Black Panther who has said she is running; and Rep. Ro Khanna of Silicon Valley, a vigorous supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' presidential bid from 2020, who is exploring the race and will decide on it "over the next few months."
"Schiff and Pelosi have known each other much longer and worked together much closer than she has with the others," said Dan Schnur, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley's Institute of Governmental Studies and top aide to GOP former California Gov. Pete Wilson.
Schnur added that Schiff and Pelosi "really bonded over impeachment, as you might imagine."
Schiff was lead House manager in the 2020 impeachment trial of then-President Donald Trump.
Although the primary for Feinstein's seat is more than one year away, Pelosi's blessing of Schiff and the resulting publicity he's receiving should give the 12-term House member an early boost.
Under California's French-style election system, all candidates — regardless of party — will appear on the ballot next June. The top two vote-getters will then compete for the office in a November runoff.
Given California's increasing propensity to elect liberal Democrats at all levels, it seems a solid bet that the Democrat who runs furthest to the left will emerge as Feinstein's successor.
John Gizzi is chief political columnist and White House correspondent for Newsmax. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
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