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Dianne Feinstein, the oldest Senator, explains why she will not seek re-election

Her retirement opens a California Senate seat for the first time in decades.

Eric Garcia
Wednesday 15 February 2023 08:10 GMT
Sen. Feinstein announces retirement

Senator Dianne Feinstein, the oldest Senator and longest-serving Democratic Senator, announced on Tuesday that she would not seek re-election for California’s Senate seat.

The 89-year-old made the announcement after two Democrats--Representatives Adam Schiff of Los Angeles and Katie Porter of Orange County--declared their candidacies.

“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,” she said in a tweet this week.

Ms Feinstein told The Independent that she will not endorse anyone anytime soon.

“Not soon, but I probably will next year,” she said. “I mean, my term’s up the end of next year. It was an accident that it got released now, but it’s my intention not to run for another term.”

Ms Feinstein’s announcement signals the end of one of the most storied careers in politics. She previously served as the mayor of San Francisco after the assassination of mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the first openly gay elected official in the United States. She and Barbara Boxer won the election to become the first two female Senators to represent California in 1992, the so-called “Year of the Woman.”

Elsewhere in her statement announcing she would not be running for re-election, Ms Feinstein said she will focus on ending gun violence, preserving public land and economic growth. She went on to add she will use her position on the Senate Appropriations Committee to ensure California receives federal dollars.

When asked why she decided to not run for another term, she cited her family.

“Well, it's time,” she told The Independent. “My husband has passed away. It was a very hard death. He had a very serious cancer. And I survived that and the time has come.”

Ms Feinstein’s husband Richard Blum died last year.

“It's been a lot of years. And I think a lot of achievement for the state and I'm very proud of my record,” she said.”People are announcing and I think, I don’t want to not be honest and say what my intent is. And I never did intend to run for another term.”

As a senator, Ms Feinstein helped pass the Assault Weapons Ban and as chairwoman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, she led attempts to uncover the United States’s use of torture after 9/11.

At nearly 90 years old, Ms Feinstein has faced numerous media reports about her mental acuity. Similarly, Democrats criticised her during Amy Coney Barrett’s Supreme Court confirmation hearing after she praised then-chairman Senator Lindsey Graham and hugged him.

When Democrats won the majority in the Senate, Ms Feinstein stepped aside as the top Democrat of the Judiciary Committee. More recently, she passed on becoming Senate President Pro Tempore, leaving the spot open for Senator Patty Murray of Washington, who was elected the same year as Ms Feinstein.

Ms Feinstein said she will make an endorsement in California’s Senate race--where the top-two vote earners in the primary advance in the general election regardless of party--in the near future.

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