US Senator Feinstein
US Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) departs the Senate Chamber following a vote at the US Capitol in Washington, DC, on April 27, 2022 Stefani Reynolds/AFP

The passing of veteran political leader Dianne Feinstein not only leaves a significant void, with her replacement already being discussed in both her home state and Washington DC. But so does her legacy as a standard-bearer for minorities in the nation's history.

Throughout her long political career, the leader has enjoyed the unconditional support of the local Latino community, which will reach nearly 15 million by 2022, 40% of the state's population.

It would have been difficult for any California politician to be re-elected to represent the Golden State on Capitol Hill for 30 years without the Hispanic vote.

As for her possible replacement, it will be up to California's Governor Newson to appoint the person to fill her seat in the U.S. Senate, something he did when current Vice President Kamala Harris left office to become President Biden's running mate.

One potential candidate is California Secretary of State Shirley Weber, a 75-year-old black woman who previously served in the California State Assembly.

The option of a Latino ticket, which could have gone to Hispanic Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de Leon, is unlikely since the Golden State already has a Mexican American Senator, Alex Padilla, who was appointed to replace Kamala Harris.

In addition, de Leon was recently embroiled in a scandal over some racist remarks he made during a meeting with other council members that were leaked to the media.

As for Feinstein's legacy, there are already voices pointing out that despite the unwavering support she has received from the Latino community, there are not many accomplishments she can point to in her 30 years of service.

One led her to sponsor the Agricultural Job Opportunities, Benefits and Security Act of 2007, which would have given "blue cards" to undocumented immigrants working in agriculture, which was not approved.

For Latino political pundit Ruben Navarrete, "the senator didn't seem the least bit curious about the plight of Hispanics - even those in her native California. They have been failed by every system that is supposed to serve them (education, health care, criminal justice, etc.). Yet Feinstein has not lent a hand."

Another pro-Latino initiative sponsored by the senator was the creation of a museum within the Smithsonian complex in the nation's capital to recognize the achievements, history, and culture of Latino communities in the United States.

Introduced by Senator Ken Salazar (D-Colo.), S. 2475 was co-sponsored by her and 14 other senators in 2006. Seventeen years later, the only thing that honors Hispanic heritage is a gallery at the National Museum of American History in Washington DC.

It is very possible that in the future, Feinstein will be remembered more for his work on diversity, equity, and inclusion in the abstract than for his concrete accomplishments on behalf of Latinos in his state.

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