California’s longest-serving Senator Dianne Feinstein has passed away; she was 90 years old.
Feinstein faced numerous health problems in recent months and had planned to retire at the end of her current term in 2024. California Governor Gavin Newsom will have to appoint a temporary successor.
A San Francisco native, Feinstein cleared a path for women in politics as she rose the ranks of leadership. After two failed bids for mayor, she was elected president of San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors in 1978, becoming the first woman to hold the title.
Feinstein was made acting mayor of the city later that year, after then-Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, her colleague on the board of supervisors, were assassinated by Dan White, a former member of the same board.
In later interviews, Feinstein recalled finding Milk’s body and searching for a pulse by putting her finger in a bullet hole.
Feinstein was the first to announce the murders to the press. She was appointed mayor a week later, again becoming the first woman elevated to the office.
The tragedy had the side effect of jumpstarting Feinstein’s political career, but the trauma of the day stuck with her even decades later.
Her streak of firsts continued at the national level. Feinstein lost a gubernatorial bid in 1990, but two years later won a special election to the U.S. Senate, becoming California’s first female senator.
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Dianne Feinstein, California’s longest-serving senator, dies at 90 https://t.co/jZgrYhpRAu
— CNBC (@CNBC) September 29, 2023