Sanders won't endorse Feinstein

Sanders won't endorse Feinstein
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week MORE (I-Vt.) says he will not endorse Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinBiden signs bill to bolster crime victims fund Stripping opportunity from DC's children Progressive groups ask for town hall with Feinstein to talk filibuster 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 LipinskiHouse votes to condemn alleged hysterectomies on migrant women Five things we learned from this year's primaries Hispanic Caucus campaign arm endorses slate of non-Hispanic candidates MORE (Ill.), a seven-term Democratic incumbent.

Newman has also won endorsements from liberal Reps. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyOmar reflects on personal experiences with hate in making case for new envoy House passes bill to revive FTC authority to recover money for consumers Duckworth, Pressley introduce bill to provide paid family leave for those who experience miscarriage 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 TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix 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 SchultzBiden: Families of victims of Surfside building collapse 'realistic' about rescue Biden intends to pick up costs to county, state in Florida building recovery efforts At least 99 people unaccounted for after deadly Miami-area building collapse MORE, who represents Florida in the House, tipped the scaled in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBiden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe Shontel Brown gaining ground against Nina Turner in Ohio: poll Biden hits trail for McAuliffe in test of his political brand 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 CoatsFormer Trump officials including Fiona Hill helped prepare Biden for Putin summit: report Will the real Lee Hamiltons and Olympia Snowes please stand up? Experts see 'unprecedented' increase in hackers targeting electric grid 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) KhannaProgressive fighting turns personal on internal call over antitrust bills Liberal lawmakers praise Senate Democratic budget deal How Congress can advance peace with North Korea 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.