Dianne Feinstein, Oldest Dem Senator, Will Not Seek Reelection

(Photo By Bill Clark-Pool/Getty Images)

Michael Ginsberg Congressional Correspondent
Font Size:

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the oldest Democrat in the upper chamber, will not run for re-election, she announced Tuesday.

“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. “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.”

First elected to the Senate in 1992, Feinstein was the first woman to chair the Intelligence Committee and the Rules Committee, and she also served as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. Before running for Congress, she became the first female mayor of San Francisco following the assassination of George Moscone.

During her time in the Senate, Feinstein championed the 1994 assault weapons ban. She has intermittently attempted to renew the ban, which lapsed in 2004, but has not succeeded. She also publicly defended the credibility chief accuser Christine Blasey Ford during Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court hearings, but withheld a letter alleging Kavanaugh assaulted Ford until his confirmation hearings began. (RELATED: Trump Rips Feinstein For Delay On Kavanaugh Letter)

Feinstein survived a left-wing challenge from then-state Sen. Kevin de Leon in 2018, winning by eight points under California’s top-two, non-partisan electoral system. Since then, however, she has faced persistent questions about her mental faculties. Despite her seniority, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer passed over her to chair the Judiciary Committee in 2021. Washington Sen. Patty Murray, the second-longest serving Democratic senator, was named president pro tempore in 2023, despite the position traditionally being held by the longest-serving senator of the majority party.

Feinstein had less than $10,000 on hand in her campaign account at the end of 2022, spurring further speculation about her retirement. Democratic Reps. Adam Schiff and Katie Porter declared for the seat before Feinstein announced her retirement, and Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee is expected to do so by the end of February.

Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi conditionally endorsed Schiff, saying her support would go into effect if and when Feinstein retired.