Sanders won't endorse Feinstein

Sanders won't endorse Feinstein
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersBernie Sanders mocks Trump: ‘He could change his mind tomorrow’ Sunday shows preview: Questions linger over Trump-Putin summit Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE (I-Vt.) says he will not endorse Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Senate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate MORE (D) ahead of her primary in California.

Though Sanders has put himself in the middle of other primaries in this cycle, he’s steering clear of California, where Feinstein is being challenged from the left.

“It’s an issue for the people of California,” Sanders told The Hill.

Asked if that meant he would stay out of the race, Sanders responded, “Yeah.”

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While Sanders says the California race is for the people of that state to decide, on Thursday he announced that he would back liberal candidate Marie Newman in her primary challenge against Rep. Daniel LipinskiDaniel William LipinskiOcasio-Cortez draws ire from Democrats: ‘Meteors fizz out’ Illinois governor: 'Vote for anybody' but Holocaust-denying Nazi Illinois governor calls on Nazi candidate to drop out of race, breaking with Cruz MORE (Ill.), a seven-term Democratic incumbent.

Newman has also won endorsements from liberal Reps. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyLawmakers worry about rise in drugged driving 'Paws for Celebration' event brings rescue animals to the Capitol House Dems seek answers from firm led by former Cambridge Analytica employee MORE (Ill.) and Luis Gutiérrez (D-Ill.), though House Democratic leaders are backing Lipinski.

A spokesman for Feinstein did not respond to a request for comment on Sanders’s remarks.

It’s not a huge surprise that Sanders would not back Feinstein in the primary, and Feinstein may be relieved that the popular liberal is not endorsing her rival, Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the California state Senate. 

Feinstein failed to win an endorsement at California’s state Democratic convention last month, winning just 37 percent of the vote. De León won 54 percent, which also fell short of the 60 percent necessary to win the endorsement.

The challenger was helped by the efforts of Sanders supporters who have made a concerted effort to exert more control over local parties.

De León is advocating for some of the same proposals that ignited Sanders’s presidential campaign two years ago such as universal Medicare and free college tuition. He argues that Feinstein is too much of a centrist, particularly in the era of President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff: Surveillance warrant docs show that Nunes memo 'misrepresented and distorted these applications' Chicago detention facility under investigation following allegations of abuse of migrant children Ex-Trump aide: Surveillance warrants are 'complete ignorance' and 'insanity' MORE.

“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 after the state party convention.

Many Sanders backers were left disillusioned after the 2016 Democratic presidential primary, during which they believed that party officials such as former Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman SchultzDeborah (Debbie) Wasserman SchultzLawmakers aim to use spending bill to block offshore drilling GOP lawmaker 'outraged' after being denied entry to migrant children's shelter Right-wing conspiracy theories against ex-congressional IT staffer debunked in plea deal MORE, who represents Florida in the House, tipped the scaled in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House protests extend into sixth day despite rain Clinton: US is 'losing friends and allies' under Trump Justice Dept releases surveillance applications for former Trump aide MORE. Clinton built up an insurmountable delegate lead because so-called superdelegates, who were comprised of Democratic lawmakers and party officials, backed Clinton overwhelmingly over Sanders.

Feinstein, who is running for her sixth term, was one of Clinton’s staunchest backers, and she put pressure on Sanders to drop out of the race.

“He ought to be able to read the signposts as well as anybody else, and if he did that, he would know that it’s all over,” Feinstein said in May of 2016.

Sanders, however, didn’t concede the race until July. 

Feinstein, throughout her career, has been viewed as more centrist than many of her Democratic colleagues.

She has been a strong proponent of giving intelligence agencies wide-ranging authority to conduct surveillance against suspected terrorists.

She voted, for example, to reauthorize the warrantless spying program as part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act and to confirm former Republican Sen. Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsIntel head says he did not intend to criticize Trump Soccer ball Putin gifted to Trump gets routine security screening The Memo: Summit fallout hits White House MORE (Ind.) as the director of national intelligence.

Sanders voted "no" on both questions.

An analysis by FiveThirtyEight, a publication that specializes in political statistics, found in October that Feinstein had voted in support of Trump’s agenda 31 percent of the time, a higher percentage than a lawmaker from such a liberal state would be expected to.

Her record has caused friction with more liberal Democrats.

California Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaNew Dem star to rattle DC establishment Ocasio-Cortez to visit Capitol Hill next week FTC Democrat hires tech critic who wrote paper describing Amazon as monopoloy MORE (D) called on her to “move on” last year and criticized her for not being a stronger advocate for privacy or backing universal Medicare.