Lee is the newest candidate running for Diane Feinstein's senate seat.
LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- There's not a single Black woman in the entire U.S. Senate, but Congresswoman Barbara Lee hopes to change that.
She's the newest candidate running for Diane Feinstein's senate seat.
"Black women have lived at the intersection of so many challenges that people in our country face, especially here in California," she said. "We've been able to fight and be able to lift people up and break down many of those barriers and the perspective we have because of that not only is important for people of color and women, it's important for the country because the country still has to live up to its creed of liberty and justice for all."
Lee, who is 76, has represented the 12th District in congress, which includes Oakland, Berkeley, and Alameda, since 1998.
But Lee has roots in Los Angeles, moving to Pacoima for junior high and high school, where she became the first Black cheerleader at San Fernando High School.
"When you look at my voting record, I have been a progressive since I was born," she said. "My days in the California Assembly and senate and in congress. For reproductive justice, for example, taking on the climate crisis, really taking on issues such as the defense budget. If you may remember, I voted against the authorization to use military force and the Iraq war."
Lee joins Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter and L.A. Congressman Adam Schiff in a competitive race that will be dominated by fundraising, an area where Schiff and Porter have an advantage.
"Our great mayor, Karen Bass, she won with $9 million. Her opponent had over $100 million. The ways that women of color and Black women, they run races, they win," said Lee. "So don't expect to run a race just like my opponents."
Although Lee just entered the race this week, a Berkeley IGS/L.A. Times poll released Thursday found Schiff leads Porter by two percentage points with Lee at 6% - and 39% of voters say they're still undecided.
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"It really is an open race at this point. Yes, there are two leaders today, but this is so fluid. Anybody can shift these numbers," said Jessica Levinson, a Loyola Law School professor.
The primary for this race will take place in March 2024, where the top two vote-getters, who can both be from the same party, will face off in November.