Rep. Ro Khanna Decides Against Senate Run, Endorses Barbara Lee Instead

Rep. Ro Khanna confirmed on Sunday he will not join the crowded field of California Democrats vying for Dianne Feinstein’s Senate seat, instead opting to back a fellow progressive in the race.

The congressman representing Silicon Valley announced his decision to stay in the House on CNN’s “State of the Union,” after much anticipation about whether Khanna, 46, would become the latest Democrat to run for the seat being vacated next year by 89-year-old Feinstein, who will be retiring after a decades-long career in public office.

“I have concluded that, despite a lot of enthusiasm from [Sen. Bernie Sanders] folks, the best place, the most exciting place, action place, fit place for me to serve as a progressive is in the House of Representatives, and I’m honored to be co-chairing [Rep.] Barbara Lee’s campaign for the Senate and endorsing her today,” Khanna said. “We need a strong anti-war senator, and she will play that role.”

Lee, a longtime California progressive in the House, announced her candidacy for Senate last month. If elected, she would be the only Black woman in the upper chamber, after Vice President Kamala Harris left her Senate seat in California for her current position.

Lee’s announcement came after House Democrats Adam Schiff and Katie Porter launched their campaign for the same seat, both having announced their run before Feinstein even confirmed her retirement.

Khanna said that while he respects Schiff and Porter, Lee “is a unique voice.” The congressman highlighted Lee’s anti-war voting record, notably in 2001 when she gained national attention for being the only member of Congress to vote against invading Afghanistan.

“She was the lone vote against the endless war in Afghanistan. She stood up so strongly against the war in Iraq. She worked with me in trying to stop the war in Yemen and the war powers resolution,” he said.

“And frankly, Jake, representation matters. We don’t have a single African American woman in the United States Senate. She would fill that role. She will be the only candidate from Northern California, and she’s going to, I think, consolidate a lot of progressives,” Khanna continued. “The other two are formidable candidates, but I think Barbara Lee is going to be very, very strong.”