Congresswoman Barbara Lee of California filed to run for the Senate the day after Senator Dianne Feinstein announced she would retire.
Feinstein, a Democrat, has held her office since 1992. At 89, she is the oldest member of the United States Senate and the 118th Congress.
Lee’s office confirmed on Feb. 15 that she had filed the paperwork to enter the senatorial primary, although she has not formally launched her campaign.
“The campaign is taking the necessary steps to prepare,” a spokesperson for the Congresswoman told Axios. “The Congresswoman will have more to say about this before the end of the month.”
Lee was first elected in 1998 and represents California’s 12th Congressional District. A member of the Congressional Black Caucus and the Progressive Caucus, she currently serves on the Budget Committee and the Appropriations Committee. Lee also co-chairs the Policy and Steering Committee for the Congressional Democrats.
Lee has cultivated a reputation as an anti-war politician. She notably was the only representative to vote against taking military action following the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.
“Senator Feinstein has been a barrier breaker for all of us who have been inspired by her monumental career, myself included,” Lee said in a statement after Feinstein announced her plans to retire, per CBS News.
In January, Lee reportedly stated her intention to run for the Senate during a meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus.
“I said there’s a time and a place that I’ll talk about this because I’m planning — but not now — to talk about it, that I’m concentrating on working with my district and with California on the devastating floods, and, with all respect to Senator Feinstein, that there’s a time and a place to talk about it because I respect her and her decisions,” said Lee after the meeting, per The Hill.
Two other California Democrats, Representatives Katie Porter and Adam Schiff, both announced they would seek Feinstein’s seat before the incumbent announced her plans to retire.
The race is already projected to be the most expensive in the Senate’s history. According to KTVU, Schiff has $20 million in funding, while Porter has over $7 million.
The Washington Examiner reports that more Democrats may enter the senatorial race, including Representative Ro Khanna.
Some have called for Feinstein to resign immediately rather than retire at the end of her current term. Critics say California’s first female Senator has experienced a decline in cognitive health and point to reports quoting anonymous staffers who say the politician’s memory is “rapidly deteriorating.”
“We thank her for her decades of service and also want to remind her that she can, in fact, simply retire now,” wrote Susan Rinkunas for Jezebel. She noted on the day of her announcement, Feinstein was not sure if her office had released her statement.
“A Feinstein staffer had to tell the Senator that a statement was released, and she said, ‘I didn’t know they put it out,’” Rinkunas wrote.
Feinstein will turn 90 in June, about three months before Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley. California Congresswoman Grace F. Napolitano, a Democrat, is currently the oldest member of the House of Representatives.