Feinstein Takes Initial Steps Toward Re-Election in 2024

California's 86-year-old senator poised to seek sixth term

Dianne Feinstein
Dianne Feinstein / Getty Images
November 26, 2018

Only weeks after securing a full fifth term, Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) appears to be positioning herself to seek re-election in 2024, when she will be 91 years old.

On Monday, the senator changed the name of her political action committee to "Feinstein for Senate 2024," according to documents filed with the Federal Elections Commission.

While Feinstein's statement of organization is not an official declaration of candidacy, it does indicate the senator plans to raise campaign funds for a potential re-election effort.

First elected to her seat in 1992, Feinstein is currently the oldest serving member of the U.S. Senate at the age of 85. Given that the oldest individual elected this cycle was Mitt Romney, 71, Feinstein is likely to keep that title at least until January 2021.

Earlier this month, Feinstein fought off a tough challenge for her seat from fellow Democrat Kevin de León. The race, which many believed to be Feinstein's to lose, exposed the generational and geographic fault lines that have long lingered in California's political environment.

De León, a 46-year-old former president of the California State Senate, found strong backing in southern California's growing Latino community. The candidate also cut a progressive profile by highlighting policy areas where he and Feinstein diverged, such as single-payer health care. De León's campaign was credited with pushing Feinstein to the left, as exhibited by her flip-flop on the death penalty and embrace of marijuana legalization.

Painting himself as a "new voice" ready to take on the Trump administration, de León captured more than 45 percent of the vote on Election Day—holding Feinstein to the closest margin of victory since 1994. He was able to accomplish such a feat despite having never run for statewide office and being overwhelmingly outspent—pulling in $1.6 million to Feinstein's $16.5 million.

The small margin suggests voters might not readily support Feinstein in 2024, especially if she faces competition from better-known and funded challengers.

Working against the octogenarian senator is that California's population is rapidly increasing to favor younger and more demographically diverse candidates. As denoted by data collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, the average California resident has a median age of 36.5 years of age and shrinking. Furthermore, the Pew Research Center found that Latinos accounted for nearly 40 percent of California's total population in 2014.

Although Feinstein has held office for decades, the influx of migration into California has diluted the pool of voters familiar with the senator. A recent Morning Consult survey found that nearly 20 percent of California voters "don't know" Feinstein.

Neither Feinstein's campaign nor her Senate office responded to questions regarding her future political intentions.