In a sharp setback for seasoned Senator Dianne Feinstein and her effort to win a sixth term representing California in the US senate, California’s Democratic Party has declined to endorse the state’s own senior senator in her re-election bid.
Politico reported neither Feinstein nor her main opponent Kevin de Leon reached the 60-percent threshold required to receive the party endorsement for 2018. But the snubbing of Feinstein led de Leon to claim a victory for his struggling campaign.
“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,” a statement issued by de Leon Sunday morning said.
“California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines.”
In an aggressive appeal to thousands of delegates Saturday, de Leon portrayed himself as an agent of change. He cast Feinstein, without mentioning her name, as a Washington power broker out of touch with progressive activists at home.
He slammed Feinstein for her initial approach to President Donald Trump mocking her for saying last August that she believed Trump "can be a good president" if he had the ability to "learn and to change."
De Leon attacked Feinstein on the grounds that she is out of step with the progressive direction of the Democratic Party. He pointed to a number of issues where he said he disagrees with the senior senator, including school vouchers, allowing federal agents to spy on American citizens, and her past support of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“I’m running for the U.S. Senate because the days of Democrats biding our time, biting our tongue, and trying to let it work the margins are over," he said to cheers. “I’m running because California’s greatness comes from paths of human audacity, not congressional seniority.”
De Leon still faces a significant challenge in trying to topple Feinstein, who trounces De Leon in all public polling and fund-raising.