(Updates with Feinstein’s Wednesday comment in the third paragraph. A previous version removed reference to Feinstein retiring in the first paragraph.)
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Rep. Adam Schiff, the Democrats’ calm, stern lead prosecutor during the first impeachment trial of Donald Trump, said Thursday he’ll try to succeed Californian Dianne Feinstein in the Senate.
“Our democracy is under assault from MAGA extremists, who care only about gaining power and keeping it,” Schiff, a former House Intelligence Committee chairman and a member of the panel that investigated the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol, said in a statement.
Feinstein (D), 89, hasn’t said whether she’ll run in 2024, but is widely expected to retire. On Wednesday, she told the website Raw Story that she didn’t know whether she’d be running and as for the rivals entering the race, “However many there are, that’s fine. I mean, I’m a big girl.”
Schiff, 62, has represented part of Los Angeles County in the House since 2001. That home base will be important as he introduces himself to voters at the other end of the state and vies for backing against a rival southern Californian, three-term Rep. Katie Porter (D) from Orange County.
The candidate field is sure to get larger. Rep. Barbara Lee (D) told fellow members of the Congressional Black Caucus that she’s interested in running, and Rep. Ro Khanna (D), a national campaign co-chair of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) 2020 race for president, also could become a candidate.
Khanna told a Bloomberg editorial board this week that his entry into the March 2024 primary election would in part depend on how strong a bid is put together by Lee, a fellow northern Californian. Khanna said he’d want to see that she’s in the race “with a strong team with a clear plan to win.”
The Democrats will be the candidates to watch, since the all-party primary system makes it possible for only members of the majority party to advance to the general election. California last elected a Republican to the Senate in 1988.
Schiff’s campaign committee had $20.6 million banked as of Nov. 28, more cash on hand than any House member. Porter had $7.7 million. Updated campaign finance reports are due to the Federal Election Commission by Jan. 31 and will disclose cash-on-hand totals as of Dec. 31.
As the top House prosecutor in Trump’s first Senate impeachment trial, Schiff argued that the then-president engaged in a “corrupt scheme” of withholding military aid to pressure the Ukrainian government to open up an investigation into then-Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter, who served on the board of an Ukrainian energy company.
Trump “has shown no willingness to be constrained by the rule of law, and has demonstrated that he will continue to abuse his power and obstruct investigations into himself, causing further damage to the pillars of our democracy if he is not held accountable,” Schiff said during the Senate trial in January 2020. The Senate acquitted Trump on a near party-line vote.
The former president and his allies have often singled out Schiff, including for his role in the 2020 trial. “Shifty Adam Schiff is a CORRUPT POLITICIAN, and probably a very sick man,” Trump tweeted in January of that year. “He has not paid the price, yet, for what he has done to our Country!”
Schiff, Porter, Lee, and Khanna have similar voting records. Schiff has been more likely than the other three Democrats to vote for defense authorization measures.
He was a federal prosecutor and a state senator before winning his House seat in 2000, unseating Republican Jim Rogan.
Schiff was Intelligence Committee Chairman in the 116th and 117th Congresses (2019-2023), when Democrats were the majority party in the House. Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) refused to let him serve on the Intelligence panel in the 118th Congress.
Schiff will almost certainly be succeeded in the House by a Democrat in California’s 30th District, which includes Burbank, Glendale, West Hollywood, and parts of Los Angeles and Pasadena. In the 2020 election, the district backed Biden over Trump by 72% to 26%.
Among the potential candidates: Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D) and Nick Melvoin (D), a member of the Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education.
Maria Curi in Washington also contributed to this story.
To contact the reporter on this story: Greg Giroux in Washington at email@example.com