On February 14th, 2023, California Senator Dianne Feinstein announced her retirement from the United States Senate at the age of 89. Feinstein has been a fixture in California politics since the 1960s, serving as a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and then as mayor of San Francisco before her election to the Senate in 1992. During her time in office, Feinstein became known for her work on issues such as gun control, women’s rights, and climate change.
Feinstein’s announcement comes after years of speculation about her retirement plans. In recent years, some Democrats have criticized Feinstein for being too moderate and out of touch with the party’s progressive base. In particular, her handling of the confirmation hearings for Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh in 2018 drew criticism from some Democrats, who felt she was too deferential to Republicans during the hearings.
Feinstein’s retirement is likely to set off a scramble among California Democrats to succeed her in the Senate. California is a deeply blue state, and the Democratic nominee is all but certain to win the general election. However, the primary election is likely to be fiercely contested, with a wide range of candidates vying for the nomination.
One potential candidate is California Secretary of State Alex Padilla, who was appointed to the Senate by Governor Gavin Newsom in 2021 after Kamala Harris resigned to become vice president. Padilla has already said he plans to run for a full term in 2022.
Other potential candidates include Representatives Karen Bass and Ro Khanna, both of whom are popular among progressive Democrats. Bass is a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus and Khanna is a leading advocate for issues such as Medicare for All and a Green New Deal.
Whoever ultimately wins the Democratic nomination will be well-positioned to win the general election in November. California is a solidly blue state, and the Republican party has struggled to gain traction there in recent years. Nonetheless, the race is likely to be closely watched, as it will be seen as a test of the Democratic Party’s direction in the post-Trump era.
Feinstein’s retirement marks the end of an era in California politics. Over her long career, she has been a key figure in the state’s Democratic Party and a leading voice on a wide range of national issues. While her retirement may be seen as a loss by some, it also presents an opportunity for new voices to emerge in California politics and to shape the direction of the party in the years to come.