Senator Dianne Feinstein has passed away at the age of 90, marking the end of a long political career and leaving open a hotly contested 2024 U.S. Senate race in the process. Born Dianne Goldman in San Francisco in 1933, she served as the first woman president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, the first woman mayor of San Francisco, and one of the first women elected to the U.S. Senate from California.
She began her political journey in 1960 when then-Gov. Pat Brown appointed her to the California Women’s Parole Board. In 1969, at the age of 35, she won a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, marking the beginning of a long and impactful career in politics.
As mayor of San Francisco, Feinstein faced numerous challenges, including the tragic assassination of Mayor George Moscone in 1978.
In 1992, she was elected to the U.S. Senate from California. During her time in Congress, she chaired the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
While Feinstein received praise for her accomplishments from the far left, she faced criticism at times, particularly from within her own party. In 2020, some Democrats criticized her for appearing too cooperative with Republicans during the confirmation hearings for Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
In her later years, concerns were raised about Feinstein’s mental fitness, given her status as the oldest sitting member of Congress. In February 2023, at age 89, she was hospitalized with shingles, and shortly after, she announced her decision to retire from the U.S. Senate when her term concluded in 2024.
Feinstein’s retirement was met with an emotional response from her colleagues, with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer noting the standing ovation she received, highlighting the widespread respect and admiration for her contributions to American politics.
Democrat U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee, Adam Schiff, and Katie Porter are all running for the seat, and many had previously demanded Feinstein resign months ago, but the senator refused. California Gov. Gavin Newsom only pledged to nominate a black woman if Feinstein vacated the seat. Lee would be the only current congressional representative that fits that bill.