When senior California Senator Dianne Feinstein announced that she would run for yet another term in the upper chamber there were at least some in her party who were surprised. One issue, while not disqualifying, was her age. At 84 Feinstein isn’t the oldest person to ever serve in the Senate (that was Strom Thurmond, who made it to 100), but she would be 92 a the conclusion of the next term. But more to the point is the perception that the party has moved significantly to the left and has possibly left her behind.
Showing absolutely no respect for their elders, the young, SJW branch of the party was quick to pounce as soon as she announced. With a rebel attitude reminiscent of the Tea Party in 2010, calls for a primary challenge came from elected officials in her own state delegation within hours. (Politico)
Feinstein, a centrist Democrat, is the next target. Hours after she announced her reelection campaign Monday, Silicon Valley-based freshman Rep. Ro Khanna said he had urged fellow California Rep. Barbara Lee and former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich to challenge Feinstein.
Khanna told POLITICO that the senator does not represent progressive values on issues including privacy, foreign policy and technology innovation, saying “She was totally out of touch when the whole debate happened on encryption,’’ when Apple and law enforcement battled over phone data in the wake of the San Bernardino massacre.
Khanna, who backed Sanders in the Democratic presidential primary last year, also criticized Feinstein’s skeptical view of single-payer health care, a favorite cause of the progressive wing.
Single payer seems to be the litmus test for the Democrats this year. If you’re not onboard with that then you’re not in the corner of Bernie Sanders. And that means that you’re part of the old guard who supposedly cost the Democrats the last election. It’s not a bad move politically, either. Recent polling shows that a plurality of Americans are still in favor of it, despite the fact that a plan to implement it in Feinstein’s home state was projected to immediately bankrupt California into oblivion. (And the same would happen on a national level almost as quickly.)
It wasn’t just the freshman Congressman from Silicon Valley calling for a primary challenge. Markos Moulitsas of Daily Kos fame quickly began tweeting at state Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, urging him to get into the race. Moulitsas described Feinstein as, “the most pro-Trump Blue-state Dem in the country.”
Not for nothing, but when you can actually describe Dianne Feinstein as being “pro-Trump” the wheels are seriously starting to come off of your party. She’s had a couple of allegedly “moderate” votes in the past, such as supporting the Patriot Act extension in 2012, but for the most part she’s been a loyalist, supporting Obamacare, gun control, medical marijuana, abortion rights, gay rights and pretty much everything else. If she doesn’t qualify as a liberal these days then the liberals have run entirely off the rails to the left.
So will it work? I’m going to say it’s unlikely at best. Feinstein has been playing this game a long time now. She’s a prodigious fundraiser and has plenty of favors to call in if she needs support. She immediately attracted the endorsement of not only her follow Senator, Kamala Harris, but also Barbara Boxer and Gavin Newsom (who may well be the next Governor). Word has it that Pelosi will also come out in her defense.
That’s not to say that a primary challenge couldn’t attract some support and pick up speed, but they’ll have an awfully steep climb ahead of them. And it will also probably mean large sums of money flushed down the rat hole of an internecine fight when they need to be saving it for a very challenging midterm cycle.