Dianne Feinstein, a California Senator for more than 30 years, died Thursday night at age 90. The Democratic trailblazer was the first woman mayor of San Francisco before becoming a U.S. Senator — one of California's two firsts — in 1992. She was in her sixth term as Senator and had held the position longer than any other Senator in the state.
From AP News:
Three people familiar with the situation confirmed her death to The Associated Press on Friday.
Feinstein, the oldest sitting U.S. senator, was a passionate advocate for liberal priorities important to her state — including environmental protection, reproductive rights and gun control — but was also known as a pragmatic lawmaker who reached out to Republicans and sought middle ground.
She was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors in 1969 and became its first female president in 1978, the year Mayor George Moscone was gunned down alongside Supervisor Harvey Milk at City Hall by Dan White, a disgruntled former supervisor. Feinstein found Milk's body.
After Moscone's death, Feinstein became San Francisco's first female mayor. In the Senate, she was one of California's first two female senators, the first woman to head the Senate Intelligence Committee and the first woman to serve as the Judiciary committee's top Democrat.
Amid the concerns about her health, Feinstein stepped down as the top Democrat on the Judiciary panel after the 2020 elections, just as her party was about to take the majority. In 2023, she said she would not serve as the Senate president pro tempore, or the most senior member of the majority party, even though she was in line to do so. The president pro tempore opens the Senate every day and holds other ceremonial duties.
And from The New York Times:
The death of Senator Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat, immediately turns the spotlight to an intense, ongoing three-way battle to replace her, fraught with racial, political and generational tensions over one of the most coveted positions in California and national politics.
It also puts new pressure on Gov. Gavin Newsom, who will chose someone to fill her term through the end of 2024. Mr. Newsom, whose profile has risen in national Democratic politics in recent weeks as he has traveled the country on behalf of President Biden's re-election campaign, had come under fire for announcing he would not pick any of the declared candidates in filling any vacancy, so as not to elevate them and give them an advantage in the Democratic primary race.
Senator Chuck Schumer, the majority leader, just took to the Senate floor to honor Senator Dianne Feinstein with a moment of silence. Her chair was draped in black velvet and adorned with a vase of white roses.
For generations, she was an iconic American political figure — a leader on issues from the environment to assault-style weapons, the longest-serving senator ever to represent California, the first woman to make it to the top of San Francisco's political system, catapulted there after a still-shocking burst of gun violence.
Incredibly, the determined Feinstein had just "voted to advance a critical spending bill on Thursday morning," according to Politico, but didn't make it to two other votes later in the day.