Schiff has drawn ridicule from Donald Trump for his fierce criticism of the former president from various posts: as Trump impeachment manager in 2020, chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and a member of the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol.
In his campaign announcement, he harked back to all of those roles.
“The fight for our democracy and working families is part of the same struggle,” Schiff said. “Because if our democracy isn’t delivering for Americans, they’ll look for alternatives, like a dangerous demagogue who promises that he alone can fix it.”
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) recently blocked Schiff from serving on the Intelligence Committee again, arguing that Schiff’s role in the first impeachment trial against Trump made him unfit to serve on the committee.
Schiff told reporters later that his “cardinal sin appears to be that I led the impeachment of [McCarthy’s] master in Mar-a-Lago.”
“He will do the former president’s bidding. He’s entirely relying on the former president, and this is something the former president wants,” Schiff added.
Feinstein, 89, last year filed initial paperwork to run for re-election in 2024 but has not explicitly said whether she will seek another term. California’s other senator, Democrat Alex Padilla, 49, won his first full term in November and won’t be up for election again until 2028.
Schiff will join Democratic Reps. Katie Porter, who announced her run earlier this month, and Barbara Lee, who told colleagues she intends to run for the Senate seat. California leans heavily Democratic and utilizes an all-party primary system in which the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation.
Feinstein, the former mayor of San Francisco, has been a trailblazer, elected to the Senate in 1992 amid the outrage among women over the Senate’s treatment of Anita Hill, who accused Clarence Thomas of sexual harassment when he was a nominee for Supreme Court justice. Thomas denied the charges.
As the oldest sitting senator, Feinstein has for years waved off questions about her age and ability to serve but has also relinquished a number of key roles in recent years. She stepped down as the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee before the 117th Congress. Last year, Feinstein declined consideration to become president pro tempore of the Senate, a position that traditionally goes to the most senior senator of the party in power and is third in line to the presidency. The role instead went to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Should Feinstein step down before the end of her term, California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) has said he would appoint a Black woman to fill the role.
“We have multiple names in mind, and the answer is yes,” he said when asked if he would do so on MSNBC’s “The ReidOut” in 2021.
There have been no Black women in the Senate since Kamala D. Harris of California resigned her seat to serve as vice president. Newsom appointed Padilla to fill Harris’s seat, making him the first Latino senator to represent California.
Dylan Wells contributed to this report.