Dianne Feinstein ’55 announces retirement from Senate in 2024

Feb. 14, 2023, 7:19 p.m.

Dianne Feinstein ’55, the longest-serving female senator of all time, announced on Feb. 14 that she will not seek re-election in 2024. The California senator has been in office since 1992, and is currently the oldest sitting member of Congress.

Feinstein thanked “the people of California” in a statement released by her office Tuesday, writing, “Even with a divided Congress, we can still pass bills that will improve lives. Each of us was sent here to solve problems. That’s what I’ve done for the last 30 years, and that’s what I plan to do for the next two years.”

Born in 1933, Feinstein entered San Francisco politics soon after graduating from Stanford with a degree in History. She served as president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors before assuming the role of mayor in 1978 after the assassinations of the previous mayor George Moscone and City Supervisor Harvey Milk. 

After an unsuccessful bid for governor, Feinstein won a special election for the US Senate in 1992, beginning a tenure notable for bipartisan cooperation and championing major legislation like the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban. Feinstein also served as the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

In a 2017 profile in Stanford Magazine, Feinstein said that her love for politics stemmed from early on in her time at Stanford, when she began to explore coursework in American history and political science. This interest led her to help establish Stanford’s Young Democrats chapter and run for student body vice president. Since vice president was the highest position on campus a woman could hold at the time, Feinstein’s campaign was an uphill battle which involved campaigning at fraternities across campus and resulted in a record-breaking voting turnout.

She described this campaign for ASSU vice president as “pivotal.” In the profile she said, “Because as pathetic as it was, it was my first race. And as such it did begin some degree of conditioning. Stanford was a real part of my maturation and development of a course of life for me.”

Feinstein noted continued commitment to her 2018 re-election platform issues in her retirement statement, including fighting against symptoms of climate change, focusing on health care concerns and mitigating the homelessness crisis. 

She added, “I remain focused on passing commonsense legislation to fight the epidemic of gun violence, preserving our pristine lands and promoting economic growth – especially to position California for what I believe will be the century of the Pacific.”

Prior to Feinstein’s announcement, debate had already begun about who would campaign to fill her seat. Democratic Representatives Katie Porter (D-CA47) and Adam Schiff (D-CA30) ’82 have already announced their intentions to run, and political strategists suspect that Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA12) may also enter the race after Governor Gavin Newsom pledged in 2021 to appoint a Black woman to replace Feinstein if she stepped down. 

Zoe Edelman '25 is one of The Daily's managing editors of the News section. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her dogs and sitting outside with a coffee.

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