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California Senator Dianne Feinstein will not run for re-election in 2024

By Ben Marquis
|
February 15, 2023

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) was first elected to represent the people of California in the upper chamber of Congress in a 1992 special election and will have served more than 30 years when her current fifth term in office expires at the conclusion of the current session.

Feinstein's political career will also expire with the end of the current term, as she announced on Tuesday that she will retire later next year and not seek re-election to a sixth term in the Senate, The Hill reported.

The outlet noted that at least three prospective replacements have already announced their candidacy to fill the soon-to-be-vacant Senate seat, including Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff (CA-30), Katie Porter (CA-47), and Barbara Lee (CA-12).

Retirement plan announced

"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," Sen. Feinstein said in a press release from her office.

She noted that legislation dealing with several of the major issues she ran on in her last re-election bid in 2018 had been passed, but acknowledged that "more needs to be done – and I will continue these efforts."

The senator then shared some of the issues she hoped to address over the next two years and highlighted some of her top achievements over the decades that she was most proud of.

"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. My thanks to the people of California for allowing me to serve them," Feinstein added.

Biden praises Feinstein

Shortly after that announcement was made, President Joe Biden issued a statement heralding his former Senate colleague, and said of Feinstein, "Often the only woman in the room, she was determined to lift America up, and through her intellect, empathy, character, and drive, to make this country everything it could be."

"As Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, I knew I wanted Dianne to serve alongside me, with her proven track record of standing up for people’s rights and fighting to make their lives better. She agreed to join the Committee, and the nation was better for it," he continued.

Biden proceeded to praise Feinstein for her work to pass the 1994 "assault weapons" ban, declared her to be a "passionate defender of civil liberties and a strong voice for national security policies," and noted how she "worked tirelessly to protect our environment for future generations."

"Over the three decades I’ve known her, Dianne and her late husband Richard became dear friends to Jill and me. I’ve served with more U.S. Senators than just about anyone. I can honestly say that Dianne Feinstein is one of the very best. I look forward to continuing to work with her as she serves out her term," the president added.

VP Harris weighs in on former colleague

A similar message was released by Vice President Kamala Harris, who previously served as Feinstein's junior colleague representing California in the Senate, where Harris "had the opportunity to witness her enduring commitment to our constituents and our country."

Like Biden, Harris also highlighted the political career of Feinstein, from the mayor of San Francisco to the Senate, and took note of her legislative accomplishments and efforts in regard to issues like gun control, the environment, and national security.

"Senator Feinstein is one of the greatest public servants that California and our Nation has ever known. She entered politics and joined the Senate at a time when there were few other women, and she has since inspired so many other women leaders to run for office and to serve in Congress. I look forward to continuing to work together for the remainder of her term," the vice president added.

Appeared confused by own announcement

Interestingly enough, according to Fox News, Sen. Feinstein appeared to have been caught unaware of her own retirement announcement on Tuesday, per multiple reporters.

When asked about the statement, the 89-year-old senator initially said she hadn't yet made a decision on when she would retire and that no statement had been issued in that regard, only to then be gently reminded by a staffer that the announcement had been made earlier in the day, at which point she exclaimed that she hadn't been aware of that fact.

That moment of apparent confusion only served to crystalize the persistent rumors in recent years that the elderly senator had diminished cognitive capabilities and increasing memory loss that negatively impacted her ability to serve, and seemingly confirms that it is past time for her to retire from office.