Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA), a prominent, progressive member of Congress long assumed to be eyeing a Senate run, said on Sunday that he won’t mount a bid for retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat and will instead endorse Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“I have concluded that, despite a lot of enthusiasm from Bernie [Sanders] folks, the best place, the most exciting place, action place, fit place, for me to serve as a progressive is in the House of Representatives,” Khanna said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Khanna had previously shown interest in running for longtime senator Feinstein’s seat, but now says he will co-chair Lee’s campaign instead.
“I’m honored to be co-chairing Barbara Lee’s campaign for the Senate and endorsing her today. We need a strong anti-war senator and she will play that role,” he said.
Khanna’s endorsement comes shortly after Feinstein announced she will not run for reelection in 2024. The 89-year-old trailblazing senator has faced some questions around her cognitive health in recent months, raising speculation about a possible upcoming retirement. In February — after two House Democrats had already announced their bid for her seat — she confirmed the rumors.
Feinstein’s seat is expected to be a highly contested race. Rep. Katie Porter (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) both announced their bids in January. Lee (D-CA) told lawmakers she is running for Senate in a closed-door Congressional Black Caucus meeting in January but only made the official announcement last month.
Khanna stressed that there isn’t “a single African American woman” in the Senate during his CNN interview.
“She would fill that role,” he said. “She will be the only candidate from Northern California, and she’s going to, I think, consolidate a lot of progressives.”
He also emphasized Lee’s “unique voice” by highlighting her “lone vote against the endless war in Afghanistan.”
“She stood up so strongly against the war in Iraq,” Khanna said. “She worked with me in trying to stop the war in Yemen, the War Powers Resolution. And frankly, Jake, representation matters.”