California Democrats refuse to endorse Sen. Dianne Feinstein for second time

Rejecting Feinstein, the California Democratic Party endorsed 51-year-old progressive candidate Kevin de León

Published July 15, 2018 10:11AM (EDT)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (AP/Denis Poroy)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (AP/Denis Poroy)

With the endorsement of progressive legislator Kevin de León, the California Democratic Party emphatically rejected the state's 25-year incumbent, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, in a stunning decision on Saturday night.

In the last few weeks, Feinstein ramped up an aggressive campaign in which she urged Californians to vote "no endorsement" in her bid for the Senate, according to the Los Angeles Times. She has instead encouraged "party unity."

In the end, Feinstein was snubbed by her own party for the second time this year.

The endorsement of de León, 51, only draws further attention to the identity crisis the Democratic Party has faced since the 2016 election. At the local and state level, Democratic voters have made their rejection of establishment politics quite apparent, something de León harped on.

"We have presented Californians with the first real alternative to the worn-out Washington playbook in a quarter-century," a statement from de León read, the L.A. Times reported.

de León, a former state Senate leader from Los Angeles, earned 65 percent of the vote on Saturday night, the L.A. Times reported. Of the roughly 330 members of the party's executive board, the bold progressive candidate received 217 votes, while Feinstein earned just 90 — or 28 percent of the vote.

While de León was handily defeated by Feinstein in June's primary, he has a very slim chance of winning in the general election in November, but the message sent by the California Democrats was loud and clear. At 85 years old, Feinstein is seeking her fifth term in office, but she has lost touch with liberal activists within the state and as a top Democrat has often opposed pressure to reform the party with a more clear and aggressive agenda.

The L.A. Times explained:

De León had some inherent advantages with the California Democratic leaders who decided the endorsement. He’s been a fixture at state party conventions and has spearheaded legislation in a Democratic-dominated state legislature. Feinstein, who spends much of her time in Washington, has had a distant relationship with party activists for years.

Despite being out-fundraised by millions of dollars, de León's unapologetically progressive agenda has called for the abolition of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, a $15 minimum wage, 100 percent renewable energy by 2050 and Medicare-for-all.

As the Democratic Party faces a vital 2018 midterm season, progressive voters across the country have appeared to have sent the party a message that the status quo just won't cut it anymore.

By Charlie May

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