Feinstein declines re-election, will retire from Senate after 31-year run

California’s longtime senior U.S. Senator fired off the official starting gun on one of the hottest Senate races for 2024 and a brewing Democratic civil war.

After much speculation and an avalanche of would-be challengers emerging, Sen. Dianne Feinstein California’s senior U.S. Senator, announced Tuesday she would retire from the upper chamber at the conclusion of her term. 

Feinstein, who was first elected in 1992 following a stint as a San Francisco Supervisor and Mayor, spent the bulk of her tenure serving alongside Sen. Barbara Boxer, who retired in 2016. 


The big picture: Feinstein’s retirement was largely pre-emoted by an avalanche of Democratic contenders emerging to run for her seat, regardless of her campaign intentions. 

  • Fresh off an expensive and narrow victory, Rep. Katie Porter announced she would run for Senate in early January. 
  • Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland), the lone member of Congress to vote against authorizing the War in Afghanistan following 9/11, began rolling out her campaign following Porter’s splashy announcement. 
  • Former House Intelligence Committee chair Adam Schiff kicked off his campaign amid growing rumblings of Feinstein’s retirement. 

The state of play: Feinstein’s retirement opens the door to a growing field of candidates hoping to crack the top two spots in California’s March Primary next year. 

  • Schiff is looking to lock-up establishment support, beginning with the endorsement of former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco).
  • Porter and Lee find themselves increasingly headed to a tug-of-war for national progressive donors.

What she’s saying: Feinstein, for her part, pointed to finishing out her term delivering on priorities laid out in her last re-election bid in a statement.

  • “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. 
  • “I campaigned in 2018 on several priorities for California and the nation: preventing and combating wildfires, mitigating the effects of record-setting drought, responding to the homelessness crisis, and ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health care. Congress has enacted legislation on all of these topics over the past several years, but more needs to be done – and I will continue these efforts.”

San Francisco fog: Hours after her statement was released, Feinstein indicated confusion during a press gaggle, telling reporters at the Capitol that she hadn’t made a decision. She was later told by a staffer that the retirement statement was issued.

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