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After a half-century of service, Dianne Feinstein to retire

To appreciate the scope of Feinstein’s career, let’s note that she was a finalist for the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nomination — 39 years ago.


As Sen. Dianne Feinstein approaches the end of her latest term, the California Democrat has faced plenty of questions in recent months about future plans. Would the longtime incumbent, who’ll turn 90 in June, consider another term?

The senator told reporters a few weeks ago that she’d make a decision about her re-election plans in the “next couple of months.” As it turns out, as NBC News reported, Feinstein didn’t need quite that much time.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will retire from Congress at the end of 2024 after three decades in the Senate and over 50 years in public office, she announced in a statement Tuesday. ... She said in her statement Tuesday that she remains focused on passing legislation to address gun violence, promote economic growth and preserve U.S. lands.

The news doesn’t come as too much of a surprise. The senator’s age was an obvious area of concern, as were whispers among people close to Feinstein about her acuity.

But even putting that aside, the Democratic lawmaker simply wasn’t raising money like someone who intended to seek another term. The fact that she declined the role of president pro tempore in the current Congress also made clear that the writing was on the wall.

To appreciate the scope of Feinstein’s lengthy career, let’s not forget that the Californian was a finalist for the Democratic Party’s vice presidential nomination 39 years ago, when she was still serving as San Francisco’s mayor. In the years that followed, she was elected to the Senate, chaired the Intelligence Committee, was instrumental in passing an assault-weapons ban and the Violence Against Women Act.

As for the future of her Senate seat, plenty of aspirants weren’t willing to wait for Feinstein’s formal announcement. Democratic Rep. Katie Porter was the first to launch a campaign, seemingly working from the assumption that the incumbent would retire, and Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff soon followed. They’ll be joined later this month by Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee.

In a written statement celebrating Feinstein’s career, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer added in passing, “I am confident Democrats will retain the California Senate seat.” That seems like a safe bet: The Golden State’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Alex Padilla, was elected in the 2022 midterm elections by roughly 22 points.