Challenge to Feinstein Tests Where Californians Stands

Joel Fox

Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily


With the announcement that State Senate president pro-tem Kevin de León will run against Dianne Feinstein (and billionaire Tom Steyer may join the fray), it will prove a good test on where California voters stand on how elected officials should function.

Many progressives are loud and angry and ready to jettison Feinstein from her seat, but the average California voter may have a different idea when measuring her record and style of governing against the politics that de León and Steyer espouse.

Both de León and Steyer built much of their political resume on anti-Trump rhetoric. That will certainly score points with many Democrats in a state that prides itself as being head of the “resistance.” Both de León and Steyer have criticized Feinstein for not being tougher on Trump and his appointees, and urging patience that Trump might turn into a “good president.” Steyer is calling for Trump’s impeachment.

The move to the left in California politics is clear. But how far left are average voters willing to go? The race for U.S. Senate in 2018 likely could provide an answer to that question that will also impact the political prospectus for the 2020 presidential contest, especially for those who hope to use California and its left wing politics as a jumping off point for a presidential run.

Voters who don’t live daily in the political jousting fields may have a different idea on how government should work than the progressive push advocated by de León and Steyer. Feinstein’s reputation of being more moderate and working with colleagues of all political stripes could serve her well in a General Election.

There is a lot that goes into voting for a candidate and much of the traditional elements fall in Feinstein’s favor. She is generally well-liked after years of public service. Her name recognition in a state of millions who don’t engage regularly in politics is an invaluable asset. Her wealth is considerable and enough to stand up to Steyer’s immense wealth and de Leon’s ability to bring in dollars from liberals around the country.

There are other issues and situations that come into play with a challenge to Sen. Feinstein.

Her age will be discussed, although for progressives who showed strong support for septuagenarian Bernie Sanders that would seem an odd matter.

While Republicans are considered an afterthought in the senate race, a fairly well-known, well-financed Republican in a race that includes the incumbent and a wealthy or well-financed liberal Democrat (or two) in California’s top-two primary world could put a Republican into the General Election final.

However, if the General Election features Senator Feinstein versus a much more liberal opponent such as de León, many Republican voters could buttress the more moderate Feinstein.

What is intriguing about a race between Feinstein and a liberal opponent in a November election is more about what it will tell us about California’s voters. Feinstein’s record would be comfortably liberal in any other state of the union. Her style of compromise and moderation as compared to a progressive opponent is what the voters will weigh.

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