Dianne Feinstein Loses California Democratic Party Endorsement To Upstart Progressive

The wave of far-left and socialist candidates triumphing over long-serving establishment figures continued Saturday night as former California state senate leader Kevin de Leon defeated Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the endorsement of the state Democratic Party, according to the Los Angeles Times. By winning, De Leon joins Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and a handful of other left-wing candidates, many of whom were endorsed by the Democratic Socialists of America, in a wave of victories that are pushing the Democrats further and further left ahead of the 2018 midterms.

Ocasio-Cortez, a Latina “girl from the Bronx” (who spent most of her childhood in wealthy Westchester County), defeated longtime Queens Rep. Joe Crowley during a Democratic primary last month. Crowley, the chairman of the Congressional Democratic Caucus, was reportedly a contender to succeed Nancy Pelosi in the party leadership.

Kevin de Leon

Roughly 65% of the 330 state party executive board members voted for de Leon, a lawmaker from Los Angeles. Feinstein, who had pushed the party leaders meeting in Oakland this weekend not to endorse any candidate after realizing that the party was drifting toward her opponent, received a meager 7% of the vote, while 28% voted for “no endorsement.”

Dianne Feinstein

While the endorsement is certainly an important victory for de Leon, it’s unclear whether it will have a major impact on the general election, according to the LAT.

Feinstein destroyed De León in the June primary, winning every county and finishing in first place with 44% of the vote, a clear plurality. De León finished far behind, with just 12%. But that was enough to qualify him for a spot on the ballot in the November election under the state’s top-two primary system. And the party endorsement will allow de Leon to receive potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign money, as well as organizing assistance from the state party.

“We have presented Californians with the first real alternative to the worn-out Washington playbook in a quarter-century,” De León said in a statement shortly after the endorsement was announced.

Party members who voted for de Leon over Feinstein said they wanted to “send a message” – even though he has little chance of winning in November.

Lynne Standard-Nightengale, a member of the Amador County Democratic Central Committee, said she supported De León even though she realizes he has almost no chance of beating Feinstein. She said she wanted to send a message.

“I just think we need a younger, progressive person there,” she said. “The Democratic Party in California has moved to the left, and he personifies those values.”

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.

“Kevin, by nature of his job, is visible and active here at home,” said state Party Chairman Eric Bauman said.

Per the Mercury News, Feinstein has a history of losing during state party nominating conventions.

Neither Feinstein nor De León won the endorsement in the primary campaign at the Democratic convention in February, when De León got the support of 54 percent of the delegates — just under the 60 percent threshold necessary.


Losing the party endorsement doesn’t always mean much. When Feinstein ran for governor in 1990, she dramatically declared her support for capital punishment at the state convention, over loud boos from the hall. The party’s delegates endorsed her more liberal rival, Attorney General John Van de Kamp. But Democratic voters as a whole agreed with Feinstein on the issue, and she won the primary that year.

Feinstein also lost the party endorsement during her first run for Senate in 1992.

As one strategist put it:

“The folks who show up at Democratic executive board meetings have never been Dianne Feinstein’s base,” said Darry Sragow, a strategist who ran Feinstein’s 1990 campaign and isn’t working for either camp this year. “[De León] gaining the endorsement is not going to get him the votes he needs to win – but it’ll be an opportunity to put a point on the board when he has very few of those.”

But even if Feinstein wins in November, de Leon will likely have succeeded in one thing: pushing his 85-year-old opponent further to the left, which is reflective of the far-left wing of the Democratic Party’s strategy. In recent weeks, Ocasio-Cortez and other “Democratic Socialists” have sought to make positions like “abolish ICE” – a radical position that until very recently had no support among mainstream Democrats – part of the core Democratic Party platform.

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Author: Tyler Durden

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