California Dems endorse progressive challenger over Feinstein

California Dems endorse progressive challenger over Feinstein
© The Hill photo illustration

The California Democratic Party endorsed progressive candidate Kevin de León for Senate late Saturday in a stunning rebuke of 25-year incumbent and establishment favorite Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinFeinstein, Iranian foreign minister had dinner amid tensions: report Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general This week: Democrats, White House set for infrastructure, budget talks MORE.

De León, the state Senate president pro tempore, secured 65 percent of the party’s vote, while just 7 percent voted to endorse Feinstein.

A candidate needed 60 percent of the vote to win the endorsement. Twenty-eight percent of the body voted not to endorse any candidate.

“Today’s vote is a clear-eyed rejection of politics as usual in Washington, D.C.,” de León said in a statement. “Through years of hard-won progress, we have proven to the world that California can forge a path for the rest of the nation.”

“We have presented Californians with the first real alternative to the worn-out Washington playbook in a quarter-century,” he added.

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The endorsement is a sign that the state’s politics are moving to the left as the country heads into a midterm showdown. De León has also secured endorsements from progressive environmental and labor groups.

Still, it is unlikely that he will beat Feinstein in the general election. In the state’s June primary, Feinstein won 44 percent of the vote, far ahead of de León’s 12 percent. The two candidates will face off in the November election because of the state’s top-two primary system.

Feinstein also has the backing of the most-recognizable Democratic names, including former President Obama, former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Harris readies a Phase 2 as she seeks to rejuvenate campaign 2020 Dems put spotlight on disabilities issues MORE and California Gov. Jerry Brown.

Feinstein’s campaign manager told SF Gate Saturday night that her team is “confident” in Feinstein’s re-election in November.