California Sen. Dianne Feinstein died at her Washington, D.C. home Friday morning. She was 90 years old. She had said in February she would not be running for reelection in 2024, and was observed in recent years as having a markedly deteriorated mental state, which her staff had a difficult time concealing from the public.
Three Democrat members of Congress are seeking her seat: Adam Schiff, D–Burbank, Barbara Lee, D–Oakland, and Katie Porter, D–Huntington Beach.
“There are few women who can be called senator, chairman, mayor, wife, mom and grandmother,” Feinstein’s chief of staff James Sauls wrote, announcing announcing her death. “There is much to say about who she was and what she did, but for now, we are going to grieve the passing of our beloved boss, mentor and friend.”
After a three-month absence this year due to a serious case of shingles, the elderly stateswoman was under pressure to resign. Her inability during that time to vote on Biden administration judicial nominees, along with her obvious cognitive decline, led for many to say she had held on too long to power. Then she fell in August, and was hospitalized briefly.
Feinstein was a San Francisco-style Democrat that the Washington Post called a “centrist.” She was lauded by the Left as a climate change warrior, receiving a 96% on the scorecard published by the League of Conservation Voters.
Feinstein was known for her prime sponsorship of the “Assault Weapons Ban” of 1994, which went into effect under President Bill Clinton and banned standard-capacity magazines that hold more than 10 rounds and some semi-automatic firearm. It expired in 2004.
In 2018, a photographer in the Russell Office Building caught Feinstein in a moment of bullying of Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, as Feinstein tried to get Murkowski to vote against the Supreme Court nomination of Brett Kavanaugh.
The photo of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s body language as she corners Sen. Lisa Murkowski in the hallway of the Russell Senate Building shows how much pressure Sen. Murkowski is under in the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh. Murkowski ended up voting “present” because she opposed Kavanaugh, but not enough to risk her political career by voting against him on the final vote.
In November of 2020, Feinstein demanded that President-elect Joe Biden end drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, and released the following statement:
“The Trump administration is endangering the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge by rushing to approve oil and gas drilling leases before Joe Biden becomes president.
“Republicans already exploited arcane budget rules to open this pristine Alaskan wilderness to drilling. Now the Trump administration is trying to push these leases through just days before it leaves office.
“This decision ignores the threat of climate change and needlessly exposes this pristine area to unnecessary gas and oil drilling. The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is a unique ecosystem, home to 42 fish species, 37 land mammals, eight marine mammals and more than 200 migratory and resident birds. The land is also sacred to the native Gwich’in people, and selling access to the highest bidder is a direct threat to their way of life.
“I plan to work with my colleagues to block or delay these sales. A lame-duck administration that lost convincingly at the ballot box two weeks ago shouldn’t push something this controversial through in its final days.”
Gov. Gavin Newsom of California has vowed to replace Feinstein with a black woman.