Sen. Feinstein’s retirement
Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s announcement Tuesday that she will not run for reelection next year is no surprise. At 89, Feinstein is the oldest sitting senator and California’s longest-serving senator. She has earned retirement.
Nevertheless, it’s a loss for California and the country. Few elected leaders can match Feinstein’s record of achievement over the decades or her steadfast commitment to championing the causes most important to Californians: environmental protection, gun control and immigration reform, to name a few.
Feinstein was a trailblazer in California politics, forging a path for other women to win office. In 1992, California elected its first two female senators, Feinstein and Barbara Boxer.
She is deliberate and detail-minded, willing to spend the years it takes to move complicated policy. Millions of acres of desert habitat, including the Death Valley and Joshua Tree national parks, are protected today because Feinstein methodically pushed to ensure that California’s vast and underappreciated desert landscape is preserved for future generations.
Feinstein authored the 1994 ban on military-style assault weapons that drove down crime committed with them, until the law sunsetted in 2004.
In recent years, as the nation and our elected leaders have become more partisan and the discourse more rancorous, Feinstein has often seemed like a throwback to another era — one more civil and productive. She’s a policy wonk, not a flamethrower. Her openness to working with Republicans often angered her party’s more progressive wing, particularly during the Trump era, when many wanted California to be the state of resistance. As her poll numbers flagged, Feinstein was challenged by more liberal and outspoken candidates, including in 2018 Kevin de León, now a member of the Los Angeles City Council. She easily won reelection every time.
She has been dogged in the last few years by questions about her age, mental acuity and whether she’s still up for the job — but she has delivered for California, including securing billions of federal dollars for projects from subway construction to wildfire restoration.
The state is better for Feinstein’s service, but she is right to pass the torch to the next generation of California leaders.