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Oprah Winfrey Your Next U.S. Senator?

No, that headline is not a joke.

Oprah Winfrey could seriously be considered a potential replacement in the U.S. Senate should Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) resign before her term finishes.

Feinstein’s office has confirmed the senator is experiencing health complications.

From CNN:

Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s office confirmed on Thursday that the California Democrat experienced broader health complications following her shingles diagnosis, contradicting an earlier denial from the senator herself.

A Feinstein spokesperson said in a statement to CNN that those complications “included Ramsay Hunt syndrome and encephalitis.”

The spokesperson added, “While the encephalitis resolved itself shortly after she was released from the hospital in March, she continues to have complications from Ramsay Hunt syndrome.”

Earlier on Thursday, Feinstein told CNN she did not have encephalitis, saying, “it really has never been diagnosed properly.”

“It was really a bad flu,” Feinstein said, adding, “I’m doing better, thank you.”

It is rare for a Senate office to publicly contradict its own senator.

Feinstein has been dogged by health questions for years, including over her memory – questions that have only intensified during her monthslong absence from the Senate and her recent return.

If Feinstein retires due to her health, California Gov. Gavin Newsom would have the task to choose her replacement.

Newsom has floated Oprah Winfrey has a potential replacement.

From the New York Post:

California Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom would be tasked with choosing Feinstein’s successor should she retire before the 2024 election.

Some Democrats have pushed for Feinstein to retire due to diminished mental acuity.

Newsom has previously vowed to appoint a black woman should Feinstein’s seat open up.

Winfrey, a Democrat and billionaire talk show host, would fit the bill.

During the 2022 midterm elections, Winfrey waded into politics and endorsed several Democrats in high-profile races, including John Fetterman in Pennsylvania, Cheri Beasley in North Carolina, Val Demmings in Florida, Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, Beto O’Rourke in Texas, Raphael Warnock in Georgia and Stacey Abrams in Georgia.

In the run-up to the 2020 election, Winfrey was mentioned as a possible presidential contender, but she has ruled out running for the White House on multiple occasions.

For instance, in a November 2018 speech during one of Abrams’ Georgia gubernatorial runs, Winfrey said, “I am not here because I am making some grandstand, because I’m thinking about running myself. I don’t want to run. I am not trying to test any waters, don’t want to go in those waters.”

Fox News added:

After receiving blowback from some progressive groups for failing to appoint a Black woman to replace now-Vice President Kamala Harris, Newsom has sworn to do so if he got another chance to send someone to the Senate.

Early rumors suggested that he might turn to Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., who is running for Feinstein’s seat in a high-profile race against fellow California House Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter. Lee has clinched the endorsement of multiple top left-wing lawmakers, including Congressional Progressive Caucus Chair Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash.

But there appears to be some concern that Newsom could tip the electoral scales in Lee’s favor if he chooses her.

Winfrey’s potential political ambitions caused a furor in the run-up to the 2020 election, as many speculated she could launch her own White House bid.

But she ruled that out multiple times, including in a November 2018 speech campaigning for two-time Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams.


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