FIRST ON FOX: Oprah Winfrey is ruling out the possibility of her replacing Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., should the 89-year-old Democrat step down from Congress before the end of her term.
Fox News Digital reached out to representatives for Winfrey to ask about reports that suggested her name was on California Governor Gavin Newsom’s short list for an appointee to fill the seat. Feinstein has said she is retiring at the end of her current term and will not run again in 2024, but questions about her health and mental acuity have spurred calls from some Democrats for her to step down earlier.
“Oprah Winfrey is not considering the seat should it become vacant,” a spokesperson for Winfrey told Fox News Digital on Thursday.
Winfrey was reportedly one of several people who have been floated as a possible replacement for Feinstein, who just recently returned to the Senate after spending 10 weeks in her home state recovering from a bout of shingles.
But the illness turned out to be more severe than previously disclosed. After a New York Times report indicated she suffered from additional medical issues while being away, a spokesperson for Feinstein’s office told the media, “The senator previously disclosed that she had several complications related to her shingles diagnosis. As discussed in the New York Times article, those complications included Ramsay Hunt syndrome and encephalitis.”
“While the encephalitis resolved itself shortly after she was released from the hospital in March, she continues to have complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome,” Feinstein’s spokesperson said last week.
Newsom has pledged to appoint a Black woman to the Senate should he get another chance to do so. He fielded criticism in the past for failing to do so to replace now-Vice President Kamala Harris, and instead chose California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to fill that vacancy.
It was first suggested that he could look toward Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who is running for Feinstein’s open seat in 2024 against fellow House Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter.
But the Associated Press, which first reported Winfrey as a potential replacement, noted that the governor may be hesitant to sway the high-profile primary race by choosing Lee.
Winfrey has ruled out the possibility of running for higher office multiple times when she’d previously been floated as a candidate for the White House, including in a November 2018 speech campaigning for two-time Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.
“I am not here because I am making some grandstand, because I’m thinking about running myself,” Winfrey said at the time. “I don’t want to run. I am not trying to test any waters, don’t want to go in those waters.”