Democratic lawmakers on Sen. Dianne Feinstein after retirement announcement: 'Trailblazer, icon'

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ByLiz Kreutz KGO logo
Wednesday, February 15, 2023
Lawmakers respond to Sen. Dianne Feinstein's retirement announcement
Democratic lawmakers are praising the life and legacy of California Senator Dianne Feinstein following her announcement to not seek reelection.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Senator Dianne Feinstein - the first woman senator elected in California - has announced she will not run for reelection.

There's been a lot of speculation about the 2024 election over the past few months and it was made official on Tuesday.

Senator Feinstein told reporters on Tuesday it was time.

"You know, there are times for all things under the sun, and I think that will be the right time," she said in an audio recording.

That announcement prompted an immediate outpouring of praise and admiration from high-ranking Democrats-many calling the 89-year-old San Francisco native a mentor and friend

Gov. Gavin Newsom released a statement calling her a "mentor and a friend" who "has served her state with distinction...blazing a trail for a new generation of female lawmakers."

RELATED: Sen. Dianne Feinstein announces she will retire at the end of her term

"Dianne Feinstein right from the start was an icon for women in politics," said Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, who called her an "icon" and a "trailblazer" who paved the way for women in politics.

"She's a legend. A legend in California as the first woman senator. A legend in the senate. She was the leader on so many different issues," said New York Senator and Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

Feinstein is California's longest serving senator and currently the oldest sitting senator and member of congress. Her career has spanned decades...beginning in San Francisco in 1969 when she was elected to the city's Board of Supervisors.

Former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown recalled meeting her in 1969 -- the year she first was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.

"I remember that I was trying to get a house here in San Francisco when they wouldn't allow Black people easily to get houses and there was a demonstration. And this angular tall great looking White woman pushing a baby stroller with a little kid in it who nobody knew anything about, came out to participate in the protest. That was Dianne Feinstein and it was that long ago, and so I am a great admirer."

Feinstein would go on to become the first female mayor of San Francisco famously succeeding Mayor George Moscone after his assassination in 1978.

"Both mayor moscone and supervisor harvey milk have been shot and killed," Feinstein announced.

VIDEO: 'Murder at City Hall: The killing of Mayor George Moscone and Supervisor Harvey Milk'

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During her decade serving as Mayor Feinstein survived a recall attempt, oversaw the 1984 Democratic National Convention and led the renovation of the city's cable car system.

"If you're here, the cable cars still running. Because of Dianne," Willie Brown said.

In 199, during what was dubbed the "Year of the Woman" -- Feinstein was elected to the U.S. Senate. There she served as the first woman to chair the Senate Rules Committee and the Senate Intelligence Committee.

She also authored the 1994 Federal Assault Weapons Ban, leading to a 10-year restriction on certain semi-automatic weapons.

"I just think about it. Dianne Feinstein is the only member of congress either on the congressional side or on the senate side whose ever been able to get a controlled weapons ban signed into law. Dianne got that," Brown said.

In recent years, concerns have been raised about Feinstein's mental fitness.

MORE: Sen. Feinstein defends service following report about deteriorating memory, ability to lead

California congress members Adam Schiff and Katie Porter recently announced their plans to run for Senate in 2024 fueling speculation Feinstein would not seek reelection.

On Tuesday, .after announcing just that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer says Feinstein tearfully talked about her decision with her colleagues in the Senate.

"And she got a standing ovation that lasted minutes and minutes. One of the longest I've ever seen. Which shows the love our caucus, and the country have for this wonderful, wonderful leader and legend, Dianne Feinstein," he said.

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