Feinstein’s friends and colleagues in California remember ‘true giant’


Outside Feinstein’s home in San Francisco, along the iconic Lyon Street steps, a mourner left a single bouquet of red azaleas. Neighbors who strolled by on their morning walks said Feinstein had rarely been seen outside her Pacific Heights mansion in recent years.

Nancy Johnston, a retiree who lives up the street, teared up as she briefly stopped to pray and make the sign of the cross. She left a bouquet of roses with a note tucked inside, thanking the senator for her service. “I admired and respected her. She was so dedicated,” Johnston said.

Prominent Californians of both parties mourned the loss and weighed in on the former San Francisco mayor’s legacy.

  • “Dianne Feinstein was many things — a powerful, trailblazing U.S. Senator; an early voice for gun control; a leader in times of tragedy and chaos. But to me, she was a dear friend, a lifelong mentor, and a role model not only for me, but to my wife and daughters for what a powerful, effective leader looks like.” — Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • “For years, I witnessed Senator Feinstein’s leadership, when the cameras were on and when they were off. … In the tradition of so many great Senators from California, she was not only a leader or our state, but for our nation and our world. Through her long career, Senator Feinstein worked across the aisle to help our nation live up to its promise.” — Vice President Kamala Harris
  • “She was a great senator. She was a great mayor. She was a great human being. And more importantly than that, we were friends for better than 50 years. … She was special. And we could tell — those of us that know her — could tell she was suffering.” — former Rep. John Burton in a phone interview
  • Former California Sen. Barbara Boxer on CNN said Feinstein was “really mad” at her when she retired. Boxer also recalled a conversation with Feinstein when the late senator decided to run for reelection in 2018: “She said ‘a lot of people are telling me not to do it, but this job is a calling to me.’ That’s how she viewed it.”
  • “Dianne gave me one of my first jobs in politics in her Los Angeles office at a time early in my career when I was looking to make a difference for my community, and for our state. It’s in part thanks to her groundbreaking career that a Latino son of immigrants could one day not just work for her, but work alongside her to keep up the fight for the American dream. As we mourn Senator Feinstein’s passing, we must also celebrate her incredible legacy, her contributions to our nation from gun safety, and environmental conservation, to national security, and health care reform and so much more.” — Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) on the Senate floor Friday
  • “California — and our nation — has lost an incredible leader who dedicated her career and life to public service, and opened doors for women in politics. We are fortunate to have benefitted from Senator Feinstein’s courage, strength, and governance for so many years — her legacy is one of a class few can hope to match.” — California Sen. Pro Tem Toni Atkins
  • “Senator Feinstein was a California original and a fierce defender of the California Dream, who will be remembered as one of our greatest public servants. I honor her and send condolences to her family and staff.” — Assembly Speaker Robert Rivas
  • “Dianne Feinstein was a true giant. She helped save our city, becoming Mayor after horrific political assassinations & leading us during the worst of the HIV/AIDS health disaster. As our Senator she led on gun safety & so many issues. There will never be another Dianne Feinstein.” — state Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco)
  • “Dianne Feinstein dedicated her life to public service and leaves a legacy without comparison in the history of California. Her passing is a profound loss for our state and our country. My prayers are with her family and loved ones.” — Rep. Kevin Kiley (R-Calif.)
  • “Dianne Feinstein lived a principled life of service w/ courage & fearlessness. Amy and I loved knowing her, learning from her & seeing her serve our state and country. On a personal level, she was an unfailing partner for our city and always was there for me. I’ll miss her deeply.” — Eric Garcetti, former Los Angeles Mayor
  • “As the longest-serving woman in the U.S. Senate, she was a trailblazer who served our state with strength, vision, and compassion. Her career was forged through the tragedy of gun violence which fueled her unwavering resolve to pass groundbreaking gun control. A true giant has left us. I join all of California and our nation in expressing my gratitude to this icon for her service and leadership.” — state Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena)
  • “Dianne Feinstein was a true trailblazer for women in California and U.S. politics. Her remarkable breakthroughs included being elected California’s first woman U.S. Senator, San Francisco’s first female mayor, the first female major-party candidate for California governor, and last year, the longest-tenured woman senator in U.S. history.” — Nancy Skinner and Cecilia Aguiar-Curry, state legislators on behalf of the California Legislative Women’s Caucus
  • “Senator Feinstein led a distinguished career of public service to California. While we didn’t always agree, she had a remarkable ability to reach across the aisle to deliver results for her constituents. That’s something we need more of. Senator Feinstein and her family are in my prayers as California grieves the loss of an icon.” — James Gallagher, Assembly Republican Leader
  • “I just had to see her. So, lucky me, I got to hug and kiss her and tell her I loved her.” — former California Rep. Jane Harman on MSNBC recalling meeting with Feinstein Thursday, hours before her death
  • “When I joined the Intelligence Committee, the senator was a terrific legislative partner as the Democratic leader of the committee in the Senate. Senator Feinstein and I are also bound by our friendship with the late Congresswoman, Ellen O. Tauscher, whom the Senator eulogized in 2019. The two were as close as sisters and represented the best of California.” — Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)
  • “She demonstrated her deep commitment to the Bay Area by taking an instrumental role in preserving the San Francisco Bay through the creation and expansion of the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge, a critical wetland area. Senator Feinstein was also instrumental in bringing BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) to San Jose.” — state Sen. Dave Cortese (D-San Jose)
  • “Throughout her remarkable career, Senator Feinstein broke barriers for women in politics and left a tremendous legacy of environmental accomplishments, from her work to protect millions of acres of California deserts, to safeguarding the Pacific coast from oil drilling, to her landmark legislation on cleaner cars, and more. Our thoughts are with the Feinstein family during this difficult time.” — League of Conservation Voters President Gene Karpinski and California EnviroVoters CEO Mary Creasman

Dustin Gardiner and Melanie Mason contributed to this report.


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