Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced Tuesday that she will not seek reelection in 2024, leaving a political battle for her seat as California senate hopefuls rev up their campaigns.
The senior senator had raised a paltry amount for her 2024 reelection campaign last quarter, raising questions about whether she intended to run. The 89-year-old has served 30 years in the U.S. Senate.
Contenders are already piling into the race for the rarely available senate seat.
Declared candidates include Orange County Rep. Katie Porter, who has raised over a million in donations after launching her bid, positioning herself as a progressive with the endorsement of Sen. Elizabeth Warren.
Los Angeles Rep. Adam Schiff is also in the running, and has racked up endorsements from congressional colleagues. He is also swimming in campaign cash.
East Bay Rep. Barbara Lee is also believed to be considering a bid, though she has yet to formally declare.
Feinstein rose to power as a San Francisco supervisor in the 1970s, becoming mayor after the assassinations of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk in 1978. Feinstein discovered Milk's body in his City Hall office and was the first to confirm the assassinations to the public.
In 1992, Feinstein won a special election for U.S. Senate, eventually becoming the longest-serving senator from California. More recently, Feinstein had been dogged by rumors of cognitive decline after appearing out of step in public appearances and other communications.
On Tuesday, colleagues in the senate and across California politics lauded Feinstein for her trailblazing political career.
.@SenSchumer on DiFi: "She's a legend. A legend in the Senate, a legend in California."— Jeremy B. White (@JeremyBWhite) February 14, 2023
“You can’t tell the story of California politics—or the story of American politics—without the trailblazing career of Dianne Feinstein," said Sen. Alex Padilla, who once worked as a field representative for Feinstein. "For five decades, California has been privileged to have as gifted, as dedicated, and as iconic a public servant as my colleague."
“Throughout her entire career, Senator Feinstein has been a champion for the Golden State," said Speaker Emerita Nancy Pelosi in a statement. "She broke barriers as the first woman to serve as Mayor of San Francisco — and in a moment of horror and heartbreak, she offered our City poised, courageous and hopeful leadership."
Feinstein said that she would spend the next two years of her term advocating for gun reform, environmental protection and economic growth.
"Even with a divided Congress, we can still pass bills that will improve lives. Each of us was sent here to solve problems," Feinstein said in a statement. "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."
Garrett Leahy can be reached at [email protected]