The Mercury News Weekend

Feinstein in Bay Area hospital with shingles

- By Jennifer Haberkorn

Sen. Dianne Feinstein said Thursday she's been hospitaliz­ed in California with shingles and hopes to return to Washington to vote in the Senate later this month.

It comes two weeks after the California Democrat — the oldest sitting senator at age 89 — announced she would retire at the end of her term next year.

“I was diagnosed over the February recess with a case of shingles,” Feinstein said in a statement. “I have been hospitaliz­ed and am receiving treatment in San Francisco and expect to make a full recovery. I hope to return to the Senate later this month.”

Feinstein is one of two Senate Democrats currently out with illness, prompting Vice President Kamala Harris to break three tied votes this week.

Sen. John Fetterman, D-Pa., 53, still recovering from a stroke last year, was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center two weeks ago for clinical depression and may be absent for weeks.

Democrats control the Senate by a only a two-vote margin.

Feinstein has faced growing health challenges in recent years, including questions about whether she was up for the mental rigor of high-profile positions. Though she was in line to become the first woman to lead the Senate Judiciary Committee, the post ultimately went to a colleague.

There had been speculatio­n that she would not serve out the entirety of her term, allowing Gov. Gavin Newsom to appoint someone else to the seat.

In 2021 he even publicly committed to naming a Black woman if Feinstein were to leave office early.

But repeatedly, including last month, Feinstein said she plans to fulfill her term, which ends in late 2024. A vacancy in the seat now would throw a new dynamic into the race to succeed her, a contest that got underway well before Feinstein officially announced she would not seek another term.

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