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Los Angeles Democrat Adam Schiff — a Key Trump Critic — Running for Feinstein's Senate Seat

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A middle-aged white man speaks into a microphone.
US Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) speaks at a press conference on committee assignments for the 118th US Congress, at the US Capitol Building on Jan. 25, 2023, in Washington, DC. (Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images)

Los Angeles Congressmember Adam Schiff, who raised his national profile as a key player in the impeachments of former President Donald Trump and the House committee that investigated efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential election results, says he’s running for the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Dianne Feinstein.

Schiff's campaign released a video announcement, which focused on his biography — an introduction to voters who may not know him.

“I think what's most important to people at this moment is someone who will be a champion for our democracy, will champion our values, will fight to ensure the economy works for everyone,” Schiff, 62, told KQED.

In 1996, Schiff was elected to represent parts of LA in the state Senate, where he served before getting elected to Congress four years later. “The (U.S.) Senate will give me an even more profound opportunity to make a difference in the lives of all Californians,” he said.

The 89-year-old Feinstein has not said whether she’s running for a sixth term, but Schiff says he talks to her all the time and that “I wouldn't be doing this without her blessing,” although he said he would not characterize that as an endorsement.

When asked why he was jumping in before Feinstein officially retired, Schiff said, “I think she's earned the right to make that announcement whenever she decides the time is right. And I certainly respect her enough to want to give her that space.”

Schiff joins Orange County Congressmember Katie Porter as the second prominent Democrat to announce their candidacy for the job in the 2024 election. Like Porter, Schiff is a prolific fundraiser. But while Porter was left with less than $8 million after defending her House seat last year, Schiff has more than $20 million in his war chest, according to the most recent filings with the Federal Elections Commission.

While Porter and Schiff are both considered mainstream Democrats, Porter, elected to the House in 2018, is close to progressive Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts and made a name for herself grilling top CEOs using her signature whiteboard to emphasize her assertions of corporate greed.

Schiff, who like Porter graduated from Harvard Law School, has been a favorite target of Donald Trump and Fox News. And just this week, Speaker Kevin McCarthy blocked Schiff and East Bay Congressmember Eric Swalwell from  serving on the House Intelligence Committee.

But, Schiff told KQED, it was just an example of McCarthy “bending to the most extreme elements of his conference,” adding that “if McCarthy thinks this is going to stop me, he's going to find out just how wrong he is. And I think a great many Californians will delight in the idea of Adam Schiff being Kevin McCarthy's home state senator.”

After two women being elected to represent California in the U.S. Senate since 1992, Gov. Gavin Newsom chose Alex Padilla to replace Kamala Harris when she was elected vice president. Now, with Feinstein likely to retire, voters will have to decide how important gender is in who takes the seat.

“I think the voters are going to look at a variety of factors in deciding what's most important to them at this moment,” Schiff said.

Congressmember Barbara Lee is expected to join the race in the coming weeks. Lee is close to leaders in the civil rights movement and would need to mobilize voters of color, said Steve Phillips, founder of Democracy in Color.

“The majority of voters in California are people of color. And then, you know, 55% of the eligible voters and around half of the actual voters in 2020,” Phillips said. “And so it's fine to have a national constituency. But at the end of the day, you've got to get voters in this state to back you. And so that's the key reality here.”

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