Sen. Dianne Feinstein shows up at the American Capitol.
Getty Images/Kevin Dietsch
Feinstein, the Democratic senator who has been in office the longest, is going through one of the worst ways to end a career in politics. For many of her Democratic Party colleagues, her long leave delay has been a bad lesson in how dangerous it can be to hold on.
A seasoned Democratic strategist in California observed, “She’s still the state’s senior senator.” “And on her [political] tomb they’re dancing.”
Feinstein, 89 years old and the oldest member of Congress, has been a mainstay of the Democratic Party in this country for a long time. However, as California’s electorate changed, her brand of centrism lost favor with the progressive wing of her party. So, the California Democratic Party decided not to back her in the 2018 primary for reelection. Nevertheless, she ran and easily won.
The ongoing concerns about Feinstein’s health have proven to be more difficult. Even Democrats who vote for the senator have read news stories about her leadership skills. Since the news about it comes up so often now, it doesn’t shock people as much as it did when it first came out, when it seemed like breaking an unwritten rule in Washington, D.C., to talk about such things.
Feinstein’s staff has always denied these claims, saying that she can do her job as a senator for the most populous state in the country and has access to all of her facilities. Even so, a lot had changed since 1992, when she and Barbara Boxer became the first women elected to the Senate from California during the “year of the woman” and the Harvey Milk era. Heck, a lot has changed since the political thriller “The Report,” in which Annette Bening portrayed her as a champion against torture and the Bush administration, was released in 2019.
Democrats in California still look for signs that she knows the show is ending. That applies to even her supporters.
William Betts of Carlsbad, California, one of Feinstein’s small-donor supporters, said, “I have some automatic payments in there that are still flowing,” after Feinstein revealed this week that she had only raised less than $600 during the most recent fundraising period.
He stated, “I would prefer a younger candidate, most definitely somebody from Gen X.” “I would rather she retires,”
It would seem that California is primarily prepared for that. A Berkeley IGS Poll from more than a year ago found that Feinstein’s job approval in the state had dropped to a new low of 30%. According to a Public Policy Institute of California survey from October, she had a higher approval rating among potential voters (41%), although it was still below average.
According to Mark Baldassare, the poll’s director, “there hasn’t been much mentioned in her recent leadership that has been positive.” It’s been a long time since I’ve read or heard positive things about her.
But he added that he would include her in a poll he was conducting right now regarding the Senate race.
“She is the senator at this time,” he declared.
But it seems that practically everyone else in California is getting ready for her not to be, albeit with varying degrees of gentleness. Before she said she would support Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), on certain conditions, Pelosi said Feinstein would have “my wholehearted support” if she ran for office again. But if they were expecting her to, no politician would make a statement of that nature. Reps. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) and Adam Schiff have declared their candidacies. Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who intends to do so, has informed her coworkers. Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) is thinking about running.