The political future of longtime Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has reached a new stage of distress for Democrats as the 89-year-old, five-term U.S. senator remains non-committal about whether she’ll retire in 2024, Politico reports.
Under the headline, “Dianne Feinstein’s extremely awkward, very uncomfortable exit from the political stage,” Politico pointed to a growing list of House Democrats who are already running for a Senate seat she has not said she will vacate when her term is up in 2024. Writer David Siders put it like this:
“An extreme awkwardness has fallen over California political circles, where virtually everyone is acting as if Feinstein is done, but without her explicitly saying so. It’s the electoral equivalent of clearing the dessert from the dinner table as one guest sits there, nibbling at the main course chicken dish that had been served hours prior.”
In an exclusive interview with Raw Story at the U.S. Capitol last week, Feinstein “announced she’s not not running. In fact, she has no plans to decide — let alone announce — her 2024 intentions until next year.
"I need a little bit of time, so it's not this year," she told Raw Story.
A couple days later, she backtracked, and said she'd announce her intentions this spring.
That uncertainty about Feinstein’s future is not setting well with many California Democrats, many of whom have believe “her brand of centrism fell out of step with her party’s progressive base,” Politico noted. It cited the refusal of the California Democratic Party to endorse her 2018 primary candidacy for re-election, which she won easily.
Siders also wrote this:
“More problematic for Feinstein has been the persistent questions about her health. Even Democrats sympathetic to the senator have been reading headlines about her cognitive fitness to serve. The stories about it pop up with such regularity now that they no longer elicit the shock value of the early versions, when publication of such matters seemed to be violating some unwritten code of D.C. conduct.”
The Politico report cited numerous observers with a common theme: Feinstein has overstayed her welcome.
“God bless her,” Garry South, a Democratic strategist who has worked on major statewide campaigns in California, told Politico. “But the most pathetic part of politics is when somebody doesn’t know when it’s time to leave.”
And there was this from an unnamed Democratic strategist:
“What’s sad about this is that she’s always been somebody you didn’t dare mess around with,” the strategist said. “And it looks like that’s just gone.”