Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a Democrat who broke down barriers for women in politics from San Francisco’s City Hall to Capitol Hill, announced on Tuesday that she would not be reelection in 2024.
The senator, who will age 90 in June, is the oldest member of Congress and has recently been questioned about her memory and cognitive health, but she has defended her ability to effectively represent a state with a population of close to 40 million people.
Following the announcement of several notable California Democrats, including U.S. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff had already launched their candidacies for the Senate.
There hasn’t been a fierce race for Feinstein’s seat in decades because she has been in the Senate for 30 years.
Feinstein intends to serve out the remainder of her current term in Congress.
There are periods for everything under the sun, she told reporters on Tuesday in Washington.
In the latter part of next year, she predicted, “I think it will be the ideal time.”
Feinstein is one of the Senate’s few surviving members of the so-called Year of the Woman, which was the 1992 election year when numerous women were elected to the male-dominated chamber.
Feinstein, though, was one of the most well-known women in American politics even before she relocated to Washington.
In the 1970s, she was the first woman to lead the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and the city’s first female mayor.
Following the murders of City Supervisor Harvey Milk and then-Mayor George Moscone in November 1978 by a former supervisor named Dan White, she was appointed to that position. Feinstein located the milk’s body.
She was the first woman in the Senate to chair the Senate Intelligence Committee and the leading Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
She had a reputation as a pragmatic centrist who contributed to political conflicts involving everything from environmental preservation to reproductive rights.
Feinstein is notably connected to initiatives to enact more stringent gun laws.
Earlier in her tenure, the Senate accepted her amendment to a crime measure that President Bill Clinton signed into law in 1994, prohibiting the manufacture and sale of specific assault weapons.
A trademark problem in a career shaped by gun violence, the prohibition lapsed ten years later and was never reinstated.
She spearheaded the effort to enact the assault weapons prohibition by sheer willpower.
That win was personal for her like it is for so many others whose lives have been affected by gun violence, said President Joe Biden in a statement.
“I’ve worked with more senators from the United States than almost anyone. I genuinely believe that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best.”
She was also well-recognized for trying to make amends with Republicans. While that may have aided her in achieving legislative success in Washington, others in the Democratic Party, which has shifted more and more to the left in recent years, took offense to it.
That frustration was on full show during her most recent reelection campaign in 2018. Some delegates complained that Feinstein had been in Washington for too long and hadn’t spoken strongly enough for immigration, which led the California Democratic Party to support a liberal candidate over her for the seat.
When she finished the confirmation hearings for Justice Amy Coney Barrett in 2020 by giving Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Lindsey Graham a hug and expressing public gratitude for a job well done, she outraged leftists.