Feinstein passes on Senate reelection in 2024
Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced she will not run for reelection in 2024, capping a 30-year Senate career and accelerating a succession battle that’s already well underway.
The California Democrat, the longest-serving woman in Senate history, has notched accomplishments like an assault weapons ban and a report on CIA torture. But as she advanced deeper into her ninth decade, Feinstein’s political future sparked constant discussion and sharp questions about her cognitive fitness.
In a statement on her decision, Feinstein said she plans “to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends. Even with a divided Congress, we can still pass bills that will improve lives.”
Few people believed Feinstein would seek another term. Reps. Katie Porter and Adam Schiff have both launched campaigns for Senate — although Schiff said his was conditional on Feinstein not running again — and Rep. Barbara Lee is preparing to launch her own.
Despite the widespread presumption that Feinstein would not seek reelection, her announcement on Tuesday nonetheless relieved California Democrats hoping to replace her from the awkward predicament of openly seeking a seat that wasn’t officially open.
Porter tweeted quick praise of the senator she’s hoping to succeed, crediting Feinstein for having “created a path for women in politics that I am proud to follow.” Schiff lauded her as “one of the finest legislators we’ve ever known.”
California’s primary system allows the top two vote-getters to advance to the general election regardless of party. Given the state’s overwhelmingly blue electorate, it’s quite possible that next November, Californians will choose between two Democrats as they select their next senator. That was the case during Feinstein’s 2018 victory over Democrat Kevin de León and now-Vice President Kamala Harris’ 2016 victory over former Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez.
And whoever does win that race could hold the seat for decades, as Feinstein did.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer announced Feinstein’s retirement at the Democratic caucus’ weekly lunch on Tuesday, where she received a standing ovation, according to party senators. Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) also gave an introduction before Feinstein spoke.
Padilla “explained that his first job in public service was working for Dianne Feinstein,” Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) recalled after the lunch. “Then he called on Dianne herself, who talked about her husband’s death and how hard that was and that she’s ready to step away from public life.”
Feinstein’s acuity as a senior member dominated her Capitol Hill persona during the latter part of her lengthy time in office: She was forced from the party’s top spot on the powerful Senate Judiciary Committee after the 2020 election following progressive frustration with her friendly behavior toward Republicans during now-Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation.
But in the wake of her announcement, Feinstein’s fellow senators focused on praising her political legacy — burnished as a San Francisco Board of Supervisors member who became mayor after Harvey Milk and incumbent Mayor George Moscone’s assassinations in 1978.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), elected to the chamber alongside Feinstein in what became known as the 1992 “Year of the Woman,” said in a statement that the Californian “proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that women senators were more than equal to our male counterparts.”
And as they lauded her, Feinstein’s fellow senators were more reluctant to discuss who in the increasingly crowded field might replace her.
“Right now, we should just celebrate the amazing career of Sen. Feinstein, who has served her country with distinction and honor,” said Sen. Gary Peters (D-Mich.), chair of the caucus’ campaign arm. “There will be plenty of time talk about the election in the future.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said he hoped “the voters of California will reflect on her record and her contributions, and that that will help inform the race in terms of what kind of leader California’s voters want.”
Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) was one of only a few to address the aftermath of the “expected, but still emotional” announcement.
“You could see a pretty big field” by the end of the campaign, given California’s general election structure, he added. “It’s harder to jump in before someone makes that announcement. So that means there may still be others out there. … ‘I just need to finish in the top two’ is very different than ‘I’ve got to win my party’s primary’.”
Asked about the impact of Feinstein’s retirement on the race to succeed her, Warren — who has endorsed Porter — said she couldn’t speak to California politics. But she described her fellow progressive as “family.”
“When [Porter] said she would be in the Senate race, I said, like we always do with family: ‘I’ll be all the way with you,'” Warren said.
Go To Source