The California Democratic Party Convention took place Saturday, during which the party declined to offer endorsements in the U.S. Senate contest. Senator Dianne Feinstein, who has been representing California for nearly a quarter century since 1992, was unable to secure an endorsement from the party. Her leading competition, Kevin de León, received 54% of the delegates’ votes over Feinstein’s 37%.
In his speech, De León appealed for a more progressive Senate that stands by truth instead of patience. He called out Feinstein for her statement of having “patience” with President Trump and her past legislations that have been unpopular with the liberals including her approach with Iraq War and wiretapping by the federal government. De León posed a challenge to Feinstein’s seniority, remarking that “being good is sometimes not good enough”, presenting himself as a more left-leaning, liberal candidate.
Feinstein, however, did not address her opponent in her speech. She spoke against Trump and the Republicans in Congress, a statement that strayed away from her former stance. She also pledged to stand with Dreamer and stated that she would not condone the construction of the wall. She also addressed her past work on the assault weapons ban that stood in place for over a decade until 2004. Regarding her failure to receive an endorsement, her political strategist, Bill Carrick, commented that she was not endorsed in her first Senate election in 1992 either.
Feinstein’s attempt to move towards a more progressive agenda is rebuked by De León’s team minutes after her speech, as they exposed via texts that Feinstein had just voted for the “Common Sense Coalition” immigration plan. The bill did not make it past the Senate and included a $25 million budget for building the wall, which challenged the genuity of Feinstein’s speech. De León also faced criticism on his part regarding his slow response towards the sexual harassment scandal in Sacramento.
De León has presented himself as an aggressive opponent. He has cultivated good relationships with the states’ delegates, while Feinstein, right of De León, has had a rocky past with the liberal-dominated party conventions. De León’s bold, liberal speech won the hearts of many convention delegates; however, Feinstein still holds advantages of seniority, an abundance of campaign cash as well as accumulated resources and name recognition. While Feinstein holds over $10 million for campaign funds, de León only raised $500,000 by the end of 2017, a stark yet telling contrast between the two’s resources.
This convention surely gave De León good chances, yet as the Democratic campaign strategist, Katie Merrill, noted, he needed the endorsement more than Feinstein. Even though it was an embarrassment and blow to Feinstein’s security that the party declined to offer an endorsement, De León did not achieve the key of his strategy, which made this seemingly successful convention a loss for him.
The race between De León and Feinstein signals a significant shift in California Democratic party, where “acts of human audacity” challenges “congressional seniority”. As the supporters of De León chanted “Time’s up! Time’s up!” after Feinstein’s speech, the outcome of the contest will determine whether California is ready for a generational change that moves towards a more liberal, bold legislative stance.
Along with the Senate contest, the California Democratic Party also did not endorse in the races for a state governor. In order to receive endorsement, a candidate needs to receive at least 60% of delegates’ votes. Considering many candidates’ tie with the party, receiving an endorsement is extremely difficult and unlikely. Therefore this is the expected outcome. The party also did not offer endorsements in the lieutenant governor or state attorney general races.
Featured Image via Flickr/David Lee