In a surprising development Saturday, California Democrats refused to officially endorse five-term incumbent Dianne Feinstein‘s return to the U.S. Senate at the party’s annual convention in San Diego.
Of the nearly 3,000 delegates gathered for the convention, Feinstein mustered only 37 percent of the vote, according to the party’s official results.
Despite snubbing the longtime Democratic lawmaker, Feinstein’s rival, California State Senator Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles), also failed to earn the party’s endorsement. However, de León amassed 54 percent of the delegates’ votes. Sixty perecent is required to win the state party’s endorsement.
“I’m running for the United States Senate because the days of Democrats biding our time, biting our tongue, and triangulating at the margins are over,” de León said in his speech. “I’m running because California’s greatness comes from acts of human audacity, not congressional seniority.”
A first for Feinstein, the senior senator has won a majority of delegates’ support since winning her initial election to the Senate in 1992.
Although de León fell short of earning the party’s official backing, he nonetheless declared victory.
“California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines,” he said in a statement Sunday.
A rebuke to Feinstein, the party’s refusal to offer an endorsement to the state’s senior senator and the rise of de León is seen as a signal of a deeply-fractured party aiming to move further left on the political spectrum.
Even though Feinstein failed to earn the party’s endorsement and trailed de León by a wide margin, her political strategist, Bill Carrick, said the the San Francisco Democrat’s campaign was “in good shape.”
According to the latest poll, Feinstein leads de León by a wide margin among likely voters — 46 percent to 17 percent — while out-fundraising the Los Angeles state senator by $9.5 million as of the fourth quarter of 2017.
Political observers say delegates refusing to endorse in several races, including governor, lieutenant governor and attorney, general does not symbolize a convention fiasco, but a party with deep fissures and crowded fields in numerous state and congressional races.
California utilizes a nonpartisan blanket primary system in which the state allows the top two vote-getters in the June election to advance to a run-off vote in November regardless of party affiliation.
[AP] [Politico] [Los Angeles Times] [Photo courtesy Getty Images via CBS Los Angeles]