Feinstein corrected by staffer about retirement announcement
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) needed to be corrected by a staffer on Tuesday that her office had put out a statement announcing her decision to retire from her Senate seat.
A reporter asked Feinstein, 89, if she had any message for her Senate colleagues after her retirement statement was issued by her office.
Feinstein asked the reporter what he was referring to, and he responded that he meant about her decision to not run for reelection.
“Well, I haven’t made that decision. I haven’t released anything,” she said.
“Senator, we put out your statement,” a staff member for Feinstein quickly cut in.
“You put out the statement?” Feinstein responded. “I should have known they put it out.”
In her statement, Feinstein said that she would finish out her term, which is set to end in January 2025, but not run for reelection next year.
Feinstein’s announcement and the subsequent temporary confusion came after much anticipation about the longtime senator’s pending decision. She has served in the Senate since winning a special election to the seat in 1992, which made her one of the first two women elected to represent California in the body.
But Democrats have raised concerns in recent years about her age and mental acuity, as she has shown some instances of memory lapses.
Feinstein is the oldest currently serving senator at 89 years old and will be 91 by the time her term ends in 2025. She was eligible to serve as president pro tempore during this session of Congress as the longest-serving member of the majority party in the Senate, but she declined to take the role, instead passing it to Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
She previously said she would announce her decision on whether she would run for reelection in the spring. But multiple prominent California Democrats had already jumped into the race to replace her.
Rep. Katie Porter became the first candidate in the race in January, and Rep. Adam Schiff launched his bid later in the month. Schiff said after announcing his run that Feinstein told him to “go forward” with his candidacy despite her not formally making her decision.
Rep. Barbara Lee is reportedly expected to kick off a run for Feinstein’s seat by the end of the month, and Rep. Ro Khanna has also been the subject of rumors about launching his own campaign for the seat.
Feinstein has said before that she would complete the remainder of her term if she chose to not seek reelection in 2024, meaning she will stay in the Senate for almost two more years.
“I think the time has come,” Feinstein told reporters Tuesday.
She said she has “things that are underway” in the Senate and hopes to achieve them with her remaining time in her position.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported last year that colleagues of Feinstein’s were expressing concerns about her mental fitness to serve in her role.
Copyright 2023 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.