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Who is Barbara Lee, second congresswoman to enter California Senate race?

Congresswoman Barbara Lee known for her progressive and anti-war credentials may be putting her hat in California’s 2024 Senate Race.

WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 05: U.S. Rep.-elect Barbara Lee (D-CA) tallies votes in the House Chamber during the third day of elections for Speaker of the House at the U.S. Capitol Building on January 05, 2023 in Washington, DC. The House of Representatives is meeting to vote for the next Speaker after House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) failed to earn more than 218 votes on several ballots; the first time in 100 years that the Speaker was not elected on the first ballot. (Photo by Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Anna MoneymakerGetty

In the highly politicized media environment of the post-9/11 era, Congresswoman Barbara Lee stood alone as the only member to vote against the invasion of both Iraq and Afghanistan.

For many, a retrospective lens examining the two failed wars that destabilized an entire region, killed and injured hundreds of thousands of civilians and service members, and displaced millions, show that Lee’s decision falls on the right side of history.

Since being elected in 1998, Lee has represented Oakland and the surrounding area, one of California’s most diverse congressional districts. Her current committee assignments include a seat on the Budget and Appropriations committees.

Lee plans to run for Senate, even if that means primarying incumbent Diane Feinstein

Earlier this week, news broke on Twitter that Congresswoman Lee spoke with the Congressional Black Caucus about her intentions to run for Senate in 2024.

Currently, the seat is held by Senator Diane Feinstein, whose mental acuteness and fitness for office have been called into question by members of her own party. Sen. Feinstein, elected in 1992, has made public statements alluding to her plans to seek reelection, but unlike past contests, California Democrats are lining up to primary her.

Congresswoman Katie Porter, representing Orange County, announced her candidacy this week, and aside from Lee, reports show that other leaders are considering a run of their own.

Barbara Lee’s record on Capitol Hill

When examining the political spectrum of views represented on Capitol Hill throughout Lee’s tenure, her politics as a progressive have pulled the body to the left. A member of the House Progressive Caucus, Lee supports Medicare for All, opposes the death penalty, and has often deviated from the party line regarding military action and spending.

When could Lee announce her candidacy?

It seems that Democrats are ready to rebuke the norm of allowing an incumbent to make their intentions to seek reelection clear before announcing their candidacy. However, Lee may wait to see how many leaders plan to run before making a final decision.


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