Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced on Tuesday that she will not run for reelection in 2024, a major moment for a historic political career as the fight to succeed her is already under way.
“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,” Feinstein said in a statement.
A number of Democrats have already launched campaigns for Feinstein’s seat in 2024 in what is shaping up to be a competitive primary. Rep. Adam Schiff announced his candidacy in January, joining fellow California Rep. Katie Porter, who has also announced a bid.
Feinstein, 89, has been a fixture of California politics for decades and was first elected to the US Senate in 1992. She holds the title of longest-serving female US senator in history. Feinstein broke a number of glass ceilings throughout her life – and her career has been marked by a series of historic firsts.
The California Democrat has left her fingerprints on some of Capitol Hill’s most consequential works in recent history – including the since-lapsed federal assault weapons ban in 1994 and the 2014 CIA torture report.
“Through force of will, she led the fight to get the assault weapons ban passed. Like so many who have been touched by gun violence, that victory was personal for her,” President Joe Biden said in a statement, lauding Feinstein for “her intellect, empathy, character, and drive.”
Biden, who served in the Senate with Feinstein from her election in 1992 until he resigned in 2009 to become vice president, praised Feinstein for her work on the Senate Judiciary Committee, where both had served as top Democrats, praising her “proven track record of standing up for people’s rights and fighting to make their lives better.”
Feinstein told CNN earlier on Tuesday that during the Senate Democratic caucus lunch – where her decision not to run again was announced – “everybody said nice things so I got kind of teary.”
“The time has come,” she said about her decision not to seek reelection.
When Feinstein addressed her colleagues in the lunch she described the recent death of her husband as having a powerful impact on her, according to senators who were there.
She told CNN she didn’t know yet if she would endorse someone to replace her but that she might at some point. “I think it’s important and we’ll see,” she said.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer praised Feinstein on Tuesday, calling her “a legend.”
“A legend in California as the first woman senator, a legend in this Senate. She was the leader on so many different issues: assault weapons, environment, women’s rights and so much else,” he said.
Though she was a proud native of one of the most famously liberal cities in the country, Feinstein earned a reputation over her years in the Senate as someone eager to work across the aisle with Republicans, and at times sparked pushback and criticism from progressives.
In her statement released on Tuesday, Feinstein said, “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.”
This story has been updated with additional developments.
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