Rep. Barbara Lee tells lawmakers she plans to run for Senate in California

According to multiple reports Lee, 76, announced her intention to run during a lunch with members of the Congressional Black Caucus.

Mandatory Credit: Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI/Shutterstock (12819819x)
Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) speaks at a press briefing with speaker Nancy Pelosi to discuss her recent trip as part of a Congressional delegation that visited Israel, Germany and the United Kingdom at Capitol Hill in Washington DC on Wednesday, February 23, 2022.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi Holds Press Briefing on Capitol Hill, Washington, District of Columbia, United States - 23 Feb 2022
Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., told fellow lawmakers on Wednesday she plans to run for U.S. Senate. (Jemal Countess/UPI/Shutterstock)

A day after Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., announced that she is running for the U.S. Senate, her fellow California Democrat Rep. Barbara Lee reportedly told colleagues on Wednesday that she, too, will mount a campaign to represent the state in the upper chamber.

According to multiple reports, Lee announced her intention to run during a lunch with members of the Congressional Black Caucus. There are currently no Black women serving in the U.S. Senate.

Lee told reporters that it wasn’t an official announcement and that she is “very sensitive” about broadcasting her plans ahead of a decision by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., a five-term incumbent who has not said whether she will seek reelection.

Feinstein, 89, has served in the Senate since 1992. Her advanced age and reported memory lapses have led to speculation that she might retire at the end of her current term, if not before.

Last year, the San Francisco Chronicle reported that colleagues were worried that she is unfit to serve, citing conversations during which they had to reintroduce themselves to her “multiple times” during a policy discussion “that lasted several hours.”

Feinstein subsequently defended her job performance and said she had no plans to step down.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein at the microphone.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., speaks at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. (Michael Brochstein/SOPA Images/Shutterstock)

In a video announcing her candidacy, Porter, who turned 49 on Jan. 3, said, “It’s time for new leadership in the U.S. Senate.” The progressive firebrand was recently elected to her third term in the House, representing a district that includes Orange County.

Lee, 76, is now in her 12th term, serving as the U.S. representative for California's 12th Congressional District, which includes Alameda County.

Other potential Democratic candidates who could challenge Lee and Porter for an open Senate seat in California include Reps. Adam Schiff and Ro Khanna, who said Tuesday that this was not a good time for him to announce a decision on his plans.

“Right now, California is facing severe storms and floods, and my district is facing historic weather conditions," Khanna said. "In the next few months, I will make a decision.”