Lawmakers are calling for California Sen. Dianne Feinstein to resign immediately amidst growing concerns over her cognitive abilities. Feinstein has been away from the Capitol for three months to recover from shingles. However, following her return, reports suggested that she had trouble remembering her long absence when speaking to journalists. Bay Area Congressman Ro Khanna has been among those calling for Feinstein’s resignation and reiterated his position following the latest reports. UC Santa Cruz political professor Nolan Higdon said Khanna may be able to get away with calling for her resignation due to his position within the Democratic Party.
Feinstein’s office confirmed that she suffered from Ramsay Hunt Syndrome, which led to ongoing partial facial paralysis, and encephalitis, which caused swelling of the brain. Earlier in the day, several outlets had already reported on the complications. Higdon believes arguments that Feinstein’s being targeted because of her gender could be a tough sell. He said, “These are public officials, elected officials. And as a result, they should be held up to the highest scrutiny in every aspect of what they do, including their cognitive abilities.” Feinstein’s condition puts Democrats into a difficult situation as if she resigns, Gov. Gavin Newsom would have to select a replacement. Many prominent Democrats are already campaigning to replace Feinstein when her term is up.
Meanwhile, political figures are rallying support to Feinstein’s defense amid calls to resign. NBC Bay Area political analyst Larry Gerston believes Feinstein’s cognitive abilities are a serious concern, but the situation shouldn’t be politicized. He stated, “I really do think, not just in her case but in anyone’s case, it’s rather disingenuous to simply say, ‘Oh, that person is simply too old, and they shouldn’t be in office.’” Gerston emphasized that there should be a more nuanced discussion surrounding older politicians and their cognitive abilities. Feinstein has yet to release a statement on the calls for her resignation.