Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif.) recently made headlines as she returned to the Senate floor after a bout with shingles, which caused facial paralysis. While she was able to cast votes for President Biden’s nomination for justice, many have raised concerns about her ability to serve. At 89 years old and relying heavily on her entourage, there is no consensus on how she will manage her duties over the next year and a half. Additionally, three California Democrats are vying to replace her in the 2024 election, causing conflict over the issue.
The lack of transparency around Feinstein’s medical complications has also caused concern. Some fear that she may not have the ability to represent voters and engage in critical debates and meetings. However, Feinstein has built her career on her resilience and determination to stand up for herself. Top Democratic donor Susie Tompkins-Buell believes that Feinstein will only quit on her own terms.
Both Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer and California Governor Gavin Newsom find it difficult to push Feinstein out, as they do not want to interfere with the Democratic three-way race to replace her. Additionally, if Feinstein were to resign early, Newsom would be responsible for appointing her successor, which could have significant political implications.
Newsom had previously promised to appoint a black woman to the Senate, after Kamala D. Harris vacated the seat. However, some suggest that prominent black women politicians who would be potential nominees are not interested. Newsom could also face backlash for missing Representative Barbara Lee, one of the top Democratic candidates for the seat.
Overall, the concern over Feinstein’s ability to serve and the potential political implications of her resignation highlight the complex dynamics at play in California politics.