California Dems Reject Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Re-Election Bid

The long-serving senator from San Francisco trailed progressive firebrand Kevin de León at the party's annual convention

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) suffered a humiliating setback Sunday when the California Democratic Party withheld its endorsement of her 2018 re-election bid after the state’s senior senator failed to garner enough support among an increasingly progressive electorate.

Feinstein, at age 84, is the Senate’s oldest member and has served since 1992. She is a ranking member of the U.S. Senate Committee on the Judiciary and was viewed widely as a middle-of-the-road Democrat for much of her political career.

But when the California Democratic Party voted on endorsements this weekend at its annual convention, progressive state Senate leader Kevin de León (D) surpassed Feinstein with a 54 percent to 37 percent margin. The results weren’t announced until Sunday.

“The outcome of today’s endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign’s momentum as we all stand shoulder to shoulder against a complacent status quo,” de León, 51, said in a statement. “California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines.”

He continued: “We all deserve a leader who will take our climate action to Washington, and will fight each and every day to protect our human and civil rights, our immigrant families and dreamers, champion universal health care and create good-paying middle-class jobs. It’s time we take California values to Washington, D.C., not the other way around.”

De León has trailed Feinstein in much of the polling to date on the June 5 primary, although his message resonated with many liberal activists who are frustrated both with Feinstein and with President Donald Trump and his “America First” agenda.

Although neither candidate reached the 60 percent threshold necessary to win the party’s nomination, Feinstein’s poor showing halted her re-election momentum and gave her rival a much-needed boost as the California electorate continues to become more solidly Democratic and left-wing.

Feinstein announced through Twitter on Oct. 9, 2017, that she would be running for re-election for a term that would end when she was 91, writing, “I am running for re-election to the Senate. Lots more to do: ending gun violence, combating climate change, access to health care. I’m all in!”

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Although Feinstein has made a point of obstructing Trump and his agenda, she still embraces her more middle-of-the-road image among Californians.

“You’ve got to be able to compromise,” Feinstein told an audience in San Francisco last year. “And compromise, ladies and gentlemen, isn’t a dirty word. Compromise is what moves this government forward.”

During Feinstein’s address at the convention, she focused heavily on the gun control issue that’s been reignited after the mass high school shooting in Parkland, Florida, less than two weeks ago. When her allotted speaking time came to an end, Feinstein told the crowd, “I guess my time is up.”

Related: Dianne Feinstein, Meet Dianne Feinstein

In response, de León supporters shouted at her, “Time’s up!”

PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter.

(photo credit, homepage image: Senator Dianne Feinstein has endorsed David Lee for District 1 Supervisor, CC BY 2.0, by David Lee.)

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PoliZette writer Kathryn Blackhurst can be reached at [email protected].