Rep. Ro Khanna said that he will not be pursuing a bid to replace retiring California Sen. Dianne Feinstein in 2024.
The California lawmaker instead endorsed fellow California Rep. Barbara Lee, who is seeking to replace the longtime senator.
Feinstein would be 91 at the time of reelection if she decided to go for yet another six-year term – meaning she would be nearing 100 at the end of that term.
‘I have concluded that despite a lot of enthusiasm from Bernie [Sanders’] folks, the best place, the most exciting place, action place, fit place, for me to serve as a progressive is in the House of Representatives,’ Khanna told CNN‘s Jake Tapper during an interview with State of the Union on Sunday morning.
‘And I’m honored to be co-chairing Barbara Lee’s campaign for the Senate and endorsing her today,’ he continued. ‘We need a strong anti-war senator and she will play that role.’
California Rep. Ro Khanna confirmed on Sunday that he will not make a bid to replace retiring Sen. Dianne Feinstein
Sen. Feinstein, 89, is the oldest woman in the upper chamber – and her office announced she will retire at the end of her current term in 2024
In January 2021, Feinstein filed the initial Federal Election Commission paperwork required to seek reelection, but her office put out a statement last month claiming she won’t be seeking another bid in 2024.
Feinstein told reporters at the time of the statement that she had not ‘released anything’ about retiring from Congress after her office put out a statement announcing this was her last term.
‘I haven’t made that decision. I haven’t released anything,’ she told reporters when asked about her emailed statement.
When a staffer mentioned the earlier announcement, she said, ‘You put out the statement? I didn’t know they put it out.’
The 89-year-old lawmaker is unquestionably a political titan, particularly so in California . But recent reports have raised concerns about her cognitive abilities at this advanced age, and have hastened the push for her to retire.
Alex Padilla, California’s junior senator, confirmed to reporters at a Senate Democrats’ weekly press conference last month that Feinstein had indeed informed the caucus at their Tuesday lunch that she would retire at the beginning of 2024.
Khanna is backing Rep. Barbara Lee in her bid to succeed Feinstein in the upper chamber
Feinstein told reporters last month that she did not announce plans to retire hours after her office sent out an emailed statement indicating just that
‘You know, it would be impossible to write the history of California politics – it’d be impossible to write the history of American politics – without acknowledging the trail blazing career of Senator Dianne Feinstein,’ Padilla said.
‘I want to be clear, as she was clear with us in conference, she’s not done yet. We have more than a year and a half left. She has chosen not to run again but she will serve out the remaining parts of this term.’
Shortly after the announcement, Feinstein was hospitalized in early March with a bad case of shingles.
Feinstein’s hospitalization made her miss a key vote that resulted in a 50 to 46 decision to block a Biden administration rule allowing retirement fund managers to consider environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors in investment decisions.
‘I was diagnosed over the February recess with a case of the shingles. I have been hospitalized and am receiving treatment in San Francisco and expect to make a full recovery. I hope to return to the Senate later this month,’ she said through her spokesman, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer hailed Feinstein as a ‘legend’ during his Tuesday press conference.
‘We’re all glad she’s remaining with us in the Senate, fighting the fight for the next year and a half,’ Schumer said, alluding to the end of her term.
He said she gave a ‘heartwarming’ and ‘teary-eyed’ speech at their caucus-wide lunch just before his remarks.
‘And she got a standing ovation that lasted minutes and minutes and minutes, one of the longest I’ve ever seen, which shows the love and our caucus and our country have for this wonderful, wonderful leader,’ Schumer said.
Her departure lays the groundwork for a fierce battle to take her California seat.
In an emailed statement on Tuesday, she confirmed she was retiring at the end of her current term after she was first elected in 1992.
‘I am announcing today I will not run for reelection in 2024, but intend to accomplish as much for California as I can through the end of next year when my term ends,’ she said.
Democratic members of Congress Adam Schiff and Katie Porter have already announced they will be seeking her seat.
Rep. Barbara Lee has similarly indicated she may run, though she has not made the formal announcement.
The 89-year-old is the oldest woman in the Senate and has recently faced questions over whether she is up to the job
‘I campaigned in 2018 on several priorities for California and the nation: preventing and combating wildfires, mitigating the effects of record-setting drought, responding to the homelessness crisis, and ensuring all Americans have access to affordable, high-quality health care,’ she added.
‘Congress has enacted legislation on all of these topics over the past several years, but more needs to be done – and I will continue these efforts,’ Feinstein added.
Feinstein was a key part of the nation’s first assault weapons ban and helped confirm the release of documents detailing the CIA’s use of torture.
But her approval among California voters has plummeted with just 30 per cent backing her performance in a poll last year.
But decades earlier, Feinstein made a splash on the national political scene as San Francisco’s first female mayor.
She took on the job in 1978 following the assassinations of late Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, then a colleague of hers on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors.
Her successful tenure as mayor ended in 1988, and after a failed bid for governor in 1990, Feinstein ascended to the Senate in 1992 via special election.
She and former Sen. Barbara Boxer became the Golden State’s first female senators.