Senator Dianne Feinstein has died at the age of 90, according to her family sources cited by the media.
A Democratic Party senator from California since 1992, Feinstein will go down in history as the longest-serving woman in the United States’ Upper House.
Feinstein is an “icon for women in politics,” in the words of Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. A passionate advocate for liberal causes in his state, he was also a pragmatic legislator able to compromise with Republicans.
Before reaching the Senate, Feinstein became the first mayor of San Francisco in 1978, a position she reached after the murders of Mayor George Moscone and Harvey Milk, the first openly gay man elected to public office in California.
As the first female president of the Board of Supervisors, Feinstein succeeded Moscone. He was mayor until 1988.
During his last years in the Senate, his precarious health was always suspected. Between February and May, he was gone. And when he returned, he had to travel in a wheelchair.
In the Senate, she was one of the first two California senators, the first woman to chair the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the first woman to serve as the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee.
Although Feinstein was not always embraced by the feminist movement, her experiences influenced her outlook during her five decades in politics.
“I recognize that women have had to fight for everything they’ve gotten, all the rights,” she told the AP in 2005, as the Judiciary Committee prepared to hold hearings on President George W. Bush’s nomination of John Roberts to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court.
“So I have to tell you that I try to take care of women’s rights. I also try to solve the problems as I see them, with legislation, reaching where I can and work with both parties,” he said.
His tendency toward bipartisanship helped him achieve legislative victories throughout his career. But this also proved to be a disadvantage in his later years in Congress, as his state became more liberal and the Senate and electorate became more polarized.