Dianne Feinstein was thrust into the national spotlight in 1978 when San Francisco Supervisor Harvey Milk was killed by a gunman. Feinstein, who was president of the Board of Supervisors at the time, went on to succeed George Moscone, who was also killed that day, as mayor. She went to Washington in 1992 as one of the first two female U.S. senators, along with fellow Californian Barbara Boxer and was the first woman to head up the Senate Intelligence Committee. In that role, she used her office to call for accountability from the CIA and spearhead investigations into the agency’s Bush-era interrogation practices.
A longtime supporter of liberal causes such as gay marriage, gun control and immigration reform, Feinstein nevertheless has shown centrist colors, voicing support for the death penalty and voting in favor of the war in Iraq. She is known in Washington as a thoughtful and deliberate legislator who works toward bipartisanship in congress, as well as a tireless champion for the Golden State.
At a time when congress’ overall approval rating is less than 15 percent, Feinstein’s soars at 50 percent. She’s now running for her fourth term, and while her challenger, Republican Elizabeth Emken, has hinted that it’s time for Feinstein to step aside, she shows no signs of slowing down. Despite undergoing knee surgery last year, she seems as eager as ever to sprint up the Capitol steps. Yet there’s one exercise Feinstein has refused to partake in: she has continually sidestepped Emken’s challenges to debate, merely saying, “I’m running my own campaign.” And with polls showing the incumbent 26 points ahead, clearly she doesn’t feel the need to discuss it.
What are Feinstein’s plans for the next six-year term? What changes does she think the next administration will bring? How has she succeeded in a GOP-weighted congress? Feinstein will be 85 when her next term ends – will she be ready to retire?
Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Senator for California (D)