Dianne Feinstein, 89, is not running for re-election
Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein told reporters Tuesday that she was “not giving anything away” about leaving the Congress after her office released a statement announcing it was her last term.
“I did not make such a decision. I didn’t give anything away,” she told reporters when asked about her emailed statement.
When the employee mentioned the earlier announcement, she said, “Did you post the announcement?” I didn’t know they extinguished it.”
The 89-year-old deputy is undoubtedly a political titan, especially in California. But recent reports have raised concerns about her cognitive abilities at such an advanced age and hastened her retirement.
Alex Padilla, California’s junior senator, confirmed to reporters at the Senate Democrats’ weekly press conference that Feinstein had indeed informed members of the caucus during a luncheon on Tuesday that she would retire in early 2024.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein told reporters Tuesday that she had not announced plans to retire, hours after her office emailed a statement indicating just that.
On Tuesday afternoon, she was swarmed by reporters on her way to the Senate vote
Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Feinstein a “legend” on Tuesday afternoon
“You know, it would be impossible to write a history of California politics — it would be impossible to write a history of American politics — without acknowledging the tumultuous career of Sen. Dianne Feinstein,” Padilla said.
“I want to be clear, as she was clear with us at the conference, she’s not done yet. We have more than a year and a half left. She has decided not to run again, but to serve out the rest of this term.”
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer called Feinstein a “legend” during his press conference on Tuesday.
“We’re all excited to have her stay with us in the Senate as we fight for the next year and a half,” Schumer said, hinting at the end of his term.
He said she gave a “heartfelt” speech and was “in tears” at their gathering’s dinner before his speech.
“And she got a standing ovation that lasted minutes and minutes and minutes, one of the longest I’ve ever seen, a testament to the love of our congregation and our country for this wonderful, wonderful leader,” Schumer said.
Her departure sets the stage for a fierce battle to capture her California seat
In an emailed statement on Tuesday, she confirmed she is retiring at the end of her current term after being first elected in 1992.
“Today I am announcing that I will not seek re-election in 2024, but I intend to do as much as I can for California before the end of next year when my term ends,” she said.
Democratic members of Congress Adam Schiff and Katie Porter have already announced they will seek her seat.
Barbara Lee’s spokeswoman also said she might run, though she hasn’t made an official announcement.
The 89-year-old is the oldest woman in the Senate and has recently faced questions about whether she is fit to serve
“In 2018, I campaigned on several priorities for California and the nation: preventing and fighting wildfires, mitigating the effects of a record drought, responding to the homelessness crisis, and ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable, quality health care,” she added.
“Congress has passed legislation on all of these topics over the past few years, but there is more to be done, and I will continue those efforts,” Feinstein added.
Feinstein was a key player in the nation’s first assault weapons ban and helped secure the release of documents detailing the CIA’s use of torture.
But her approval rating among California voters has plummeted, with just 30 percent backing her in a poll last year.
But decades earlier, Feinstein had made a splash on the national political scene as San Francisco’s first female mayor.
She took office in 1978 after the assassination of the late Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, who was her colleague on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors at the time.
Her successful term as mayor ended in 1988, and after an unsuccessful bid for governor in 1990, Feinstein ascended to the Senate in 1992 through a special election.
She and former Sen. Barbara Boxer became the first female senators in the Golden State.