Senator Feinstein Announces She Will Not Seek Reelection
Dianne Feinstein Tuesday announced she is not running for reelection to the U.S. Senate.
“I am announcing today I will not run for reelection in 2024 but intend to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends,” Feinstein said in a statement.
Feinstein, 89, was under increasing pressure not to seek another term, amidst concerns about her cognitive health. Democrats Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter already have announced they are running for her seat, and Rep. Barbara Lee is expected to join the race as well.
Feinstein was first elected to the senate in 1992 after serving as mayor of San Francisco and a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. She was elected to her fifth term as senator in 2018.
Feinstein is the oldest sitting member of Congress.
“Even with a divided Congress, we can still pass bills that will improve lives. Each of us was sent here to solve problems. That’s what I’ve done for the last 30 years, and that’s what I plan to do for the next two years,” Feinstein said.
“My thanks to the people of California for allowing me to serve them.”
“You can’t tell the story of California politics—or the story of American politics—without the trailblazing career of Dianne Feinstein,” U.S. Senator Alex Padilla said in a statement. “For five decades, California has been privileged to have as gifted, as dedicated, and as iconic a public servant as my colleague.”
Padilla said Feinstein gave him his first job in politics as an intern in her office after he graduated from MIT. “It’s in part because of her groundbreaking career that a Latino son of immigrants could one day join her in breaking down barriers and serving alongside her,” he added.
Gov. Gavin Newsom credited Feinstein with “blazing a trail for a new generation of female lawmakers” and called her “a mentor and friend.”
Feinstein’s long career “is almost a road map of modern California politics,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute of Public Affairs at Cal State L.A. He recalled how San Francisco “was the heart of the Democratic political scene” when Feinstein was cutting her political teeth and how she survived as a centrist in a state that once had far more Republicans than it does now.
Today, “the state is far more Democratic and liberal, and whose base is now in Southern California, a partisan world with which she was less familiar and perhaps less comfortable,” Sonenshein said.
In her statement, Feinstein listed what she saw as her accomplishments: “From the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban to the 2014 CIA torture report, from preserving Lake Tahoe and the Mojave Desert to passing the first significant global warming legislation, from protecting student athletes from abuse to protecting consumers from harmful chemicals, and more recently improving our efforts to combat wildfire and drought, we have improved the lives of millions.”
Five Notable Moments in Feinstein's Career
- In 1978, Feinstein burst onto the national stage when she was first to go on camera to announce the assassination of San Francisco Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk by former Supervisor Dan White. Feinstein was later appointed to replace Moscone as the city’s first woman mayor.
- In 1992, Feinstein and Barbara Boxer were the first women elected to the U.S. Senate from California. With the election of two other women to the Senate, it was dubbed “The Year of the Woman.”
- In 1994, Feinstein introduced the federal Assault Weapons Ban, the only such prohibition ever enacted into law. It expired in 2004.
- In 2014, after years of battling the intelligence community and both the Bush and Obama administrations,, Feinstein released a Senate Intelligence Committee report on CIA torture. The bombshell report found the torture produced false information about non-existent terrorist plans and placed “a stain on our values and our history,” Feinstein said at the time.
- In 2016, Feinstein opposed the legalization of marijuana in California. She long fancied herself a moderate — some would say conservative — and this was an example. She also opposed legislation that limits enforcement of the federal ban on marijuana in states that have legalized it.
The YouTube video below from NBC News is an excerpt of Feinstein's hour-long Dec. 9, 2014 speech on the Senate floor about the torture report.
Once wildly popular in California, Feinstein’s appeal in recent years has waned — in part because of the state’s increasingly progressive tilt. A Feb. 2022 poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies found only 30% of registered voters approved of her performance, while 49% disapproved.
Calls for her to retire grew in response to media accounts of her cognitive decline. An April 2022 San Francisco Chronicle article cited five members of Congress and three former Feinstein staffers in saying “her memory is rapidly deteriorating.” The next month, The New York Times cited half a dozen lawmakers and aides who said Feinstein “sometimes struggles to recall the names of colleagues, frequently has little recollection of meetings or telephone conversations, and at times walks around in a state of befuddlement.”
In a statement Tuesday, Schiff praised Feinstein as “one of the finest legislators our state and country have ever known.”
“As the top Democrats on the Senate and House Intelligence Committee for many years, we worked closely together and continue to do so — and I’m deeply grateful for her friendship and mentorship,” Schiff said.
This YouTube video is of Feinstein announcing to the media on Nov. 27, 1978 that Milk and Moscone had been assassinated.
This story will be updated. Check back for details.
Ex-Councilmember Martinez Opposed Healthy Streets LA Plan. Candidates To Replace Her Say She Was WrongAt a forum focused on transit issues, no one mentioned the disgraced former councilmember.
The candidates include a city council staffer, two community organizers, the head of a housing nonprofit, the head of the San Fernando Valley NAACP, and three people in private business.
The new state Legislature is the most diverse ever, but by some measures, it still isn’t fully representative of California. See details in our interactive tool.
Newly-elected Kenneth Mejia joins Councilmember Nithya Raman as some of the city’s most visible Asian American progressives.
While the mayor is the city’s highest office, there’s a lot they can and can’t do.
The council has been through scandals and elections, all within the last six months. New faces are in, and longstanding members are gone. We help you understand who's who and what's next.