A collective shriek rang out Wednesday when Judge Katherine Feinstein announced she’ll be stepping down from her position as a San Francisco Superior Court judge and may run for public office.
Why a shriek? Because the bench of California politicians hoping for a promotion is already very crowded.
Katherine’s mother, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, 79, has represented California in the Senate for 20 years. Our other representative, U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, 72, has been in the Senate for 19 years, and was in the House of Representatives for 10 years before that. Add the fact that Gov. Jerry Brown, 74, still appears committed to staying in office until 2018, and you can see that upward opportunities for folks such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, state Attorney General Kamala Harris, and state Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg are nonexistent. It’s even worse here in San Francisco, where U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, 72, has been our congresswoman since 1987.
Of course, our senators have plum committee assignments and Pelosi gets to help make committee assignments, so there is a benefit to having a team with such a lengthy tenure. But sharks gotta swim and politicians have to avoid the private sector, so the “lost generation” of politicians frozen out by long-term incumbents waits. And waits.
Katherine Feinstein has been cagey about her plans so far, but if she were to run for her mother’s seat with her mother’s support and Democratic Party connections, some desperate person in the already lengthy queue of people waiting to run for higher office might want to change their names to Barack Obama.
Melissa Griffin’s column runs each Thursday and Sunday. She also appears Mondays in “Mornings with Melissa” at 6:45 a.m. on KPIX (Ch. 5). Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.