Representative Ro Khanna of California said on Sunday that he would not run in an already crowded Democratic field seeking to succeed his state’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, who is retiring at the end of her term.
In deep-blue California, the winner of the Democratic primary is likely to join Alex Padilla in representing the state in the Senate. The major Democrats already running are three representatives: Katie Porter, a social media darling of liberal Democrats; Adam Schiff, who led the first impeachment of Donald J. Trump; and Barbara Lee, the sole member of Congress to oppose a broad war authorization after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Mr. Khanna, who represents Silicon Valley, made his announcement on “State of the Union” on CNN, telling the host Jake Tapper that the best place “for me to serve as a progressive is in the House of Representatives.”
He added, “I’m honored to be co-chairing Barbara Lee’s campaign for the Senate and endorsing her today. We need a strong antiwar senator, and she will play that role.”
The race in California is likely to be one of the most expensive and competitive in the nation in 2024. Mr. Schiff, who represents a Los Angeles-area district, and Ms. Porter, of Orange County, have already raised millions to support their campaigns, while Ms. Lee, whose district includes Oakland, has lagged.
Ms. Lee is seeking to become just the third Black woman in the Senate. The House has 28 Black women serving in its ranks, a high-water mark, but the Senate currently has none, a point Mr. Khanna emphasized on Sunday.
“Frankly, Jake, representation matters,” he said. “We don’t have a single African American woman in the United States Senate. She would fill that role. She’ll be the only candidate from Northern California and she’s going to, I think, consolidate a lot of progressives. The other two are formidable candidates, but I think Barbara Lee is going to be very, very strong.”