While Feinstein's fame and longevity -- and the $3.5 million she has in her campaign account -- may scare off some would-be challengers, it didn't deter some Democratic critics Monday. Silicon Valley Rep. Ro Khanna told KQED that he has "respect" for Feinstein's long public service career.
"I was hopeful, though, that she would recognize it's time for a new generation of leadership, of people who share progressive values on economic issues, and foreign policy issues," he said. "And I am still hopeful that some progressive new voices will emerge."
Bill Carrick, Feinstein's longtime campaign manager, said the senator is "ready to go," and "looking forward" to a campaign over the next year. He said she is exactly the voice and person Democrats need in Washington right now, noting her senior position on key committees in the Senate.
"I think it's time for having somebody in Washington that has the clout and the strength to really fight the battle against the Trump administration and the Republicans. ... She can protect our civil rights, she can protect a women’s right to choose, she can protect us from extreme judges, she can protect us on many fronts," he said.
"I think the idea that somebody should be elected to office because of their age is ridiculous," Carrick added. "You should look for the most qualified, the most committed, somebody that can move a progressive agenda in the hostile political environment and the Republican-controlled Congress. And she, right now, is the right choice to be our United States senator."
Some high-profile California Democrats immediately pledged their support. Sen. Kamala Harris sent out a fundraising email with the subject "Can you donate $3 to Dianne Feinstein?"
"Few people have done more to serve middle-class families in California and across this country than Dianne Feinstein. No one is more fearless telling the truth on issues like reducing gun violence or uncovering CIA torture than Dianne Feinstein," Harris wrote. "Dianne is someone who sticks to her ideals and achieves results regardless of what makes for good politics or what her powerful opponents may say. We are better off because of her leadership in the Senate, and I’m proud to endorse her campaign."
Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom also tweeted his support for Feinstein. Like her, Newsom is a former San Francisco mayor who she has mentored throughout his career.