Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., announced Tuesday she will join the competitive 2024 Democratic race for the Senate seat held by retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
“Californians deserve a strong, progressive leader who has delivered real change,” Lee, 76, said in a social media post unveiling her long-rumored campaign for the coveted seat.
Lee’s announcement makes her the third major Democratic candidate in the running for the seat that the 89-year-old Feinstein has held since 1992. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, both California Democrats, have already thrown their hats in the ring.
If elected in 2024, Lee would become the only Black woman serving in the U.S. Senate.
A campaign launch video highlighted Lee’s personal struggles and experience in major civil rights movements, as it touted her progressive record.
“When my high school said cheerleaders couldn’t be Black, I took them on,” Lee said. “I worked with the NAACP and earned my spot as, guess what, the school’s first Black cheerleader.”
She noted her work passing legislative protections for women and people in the LGBTQ community, and her efforts to secure global AIDS funding.
Lee also trumpeted her lonely opposition to a broad expansion of presidential war powers just days after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
“In the face of countless death threats, I was the only ‘no’ vote,” Lee said.
The 12-term congresswoman, who has been in the House since 1998 and is now vying to succeed her state’s longest-serving senator, appeared to anticipate attacks about her long tenure in politics.
“For those who say my time has passed, well, when does making change go out of style?” Lee said in the video.
Feinstein said she will retire when her current term expires in 2024, opening up one of the most powerful, and reliably blue, seats in the Senate. As Republicans took control of the House in the November midterms, the chance to represent California in the remaining chamber where Democrats hold a slim majority is expected to produce a crowded, expensive and intense primary campaign.