Sanders won't endorse Feinstein

Sanders won't endorse Feinstein
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Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersWarren joins Sanders in support of striking McDonald's workers Kavanaugh allegations could be monster storm brewing for midterm elections      Senate approves 4B spending bill MORE (I-Vt.) says he will not endorse Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight Hillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' 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 LipinskiInsurgency shakes up Democratic establishment Holocaust-denying GOP nominee confronts write-in opponent, challenges him to debate Ex-GOP staffer seeks write-in nomination against Nazi candidate in Chicago: report MORE (Ill.), a seven-term Democratic incumbent.

Newman has also won endorsements from liberal Reps. Jan SchakowskyJanice (Jan) Danoff SchakowskyTrump is wrong, Dems are fighting to save Medicare and Social Security Overnight Defense: Officials rush to deny writing anonymous op-ed | Lawmakers offer measure on naming NATO headquarters after McCain | US, India sign deal on sharing intel Dems plan resolution to withdraw US forces from Yemen civil war 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 TrumpTrump: I hope voters pay attention to Dem tactics amid Kavanaugh fight South Korea leader: North Korea agrees to take steps toward denuclearization Graham calls handling of Kavanaugh allegations 'a drive-by shooting' 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 SchultzDems urge Mattis to reject using 0M for border wall DNC planning presidential primary TV debates for 2019: report Trump-Justice feud deepens MORE, who represents Florida in the House, tipped the scaled in favor of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonHillary Clinton: FBI investigation into Kavanaugh could be done quickly Hillary Clinton urges Americans to 'check and reject' Trump's 'authoritarian tendencies' by voting in midterms EXCLUSIVE: Trump says exposing ‘corrupt’ FBI probe could be ‘crowning achievement’ of presidency 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 CoatsDem lawmakers slam Trump’s declassification of Russia documents as ‘brazen abuse of power’ Nunes: Russia probe documents should be released before election The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by Better Medicare Alliance — Cuomo wins and Manafort plea deal 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) KhannaThe realities of workplace violence for emergency nurses Shrapnel in Yemen strikes links US-made bombs to 63 civilian deaths: report Dems seek ways to block Trump support for Saudi-led coalition in Yemen 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.