Oprah Winfrey is famous for her giveaways, so she would feel right at home in the U.S. Senate, observers noted after Democrats in California floated the idea of Winfrey as a replacement for soon-to-be 90-year-old Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The ailing Feinstein, who returned to the Senate earlier this month, has already said she will not run for re-election in 2024, but her deteriorating health has political insiders betting that it is likely she won't finish out her current term.
The Associated Press reported that several names, including Winfrey’s, are being discussed as potential replacements in case Feinstein retires. If that does occur, California Democrat Gov. Gavin Newsom would appoint a replacement to finish the senator's term.
Newsom has previously vowed to appoint a black woman should Feinstein’s seat open up.
Democrats who have already confirmed they are running for Feinstein's seat in 2024 include California Rep. Barbara Lee, who is black, and California Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, who are white.
A source close to Feinstein described her condition as “frightening,” according to The New York Times. The senator suffered vision and balance impairments and facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome from her case of shingles. As a rare side effect, she also developed encephalitis, which can cause the brain to swell and may affect her language skills, sleep, and mood.
A new UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll co-sponsored by the Los Angeles Times found that a two-thirds majority of Californians believe Feinstein is no longer fit for office.
Last month, Democrat Reps. Ro Khanna of California and Dean Phillips of Minnesota called on Feinstein to resign.
“It’s time for [Feinstein] to resign,” Khanna said. “We need to put the country ahead of personal loyalty. While she has had a lifetime of public service, it is obvious she can no longer fulfill her duties. Not speaking out undermines our credibility as elected representatives of the people.”
As for Winfrey, she waded into the political arena in 2020 with several endorsements. She has been mentioned a presidential contender but has ruled out running for the White House on several occasions.
During the 2022 midterm elections, Winfrey endorsed several Democrats, including John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, Val Demmings in Florida, Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Raphael Warnock in Georgia, and Stacey Abrams in Georgia. Only Fetterman and Warnock won.
In the run-up to the 2020 election, Winfrey was mentioned as a possible presidential contender, but she has ruled out running for the White House on multiple occasions.
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