Calif Dems dump Feinstein from party endorsement for re-election to Senate

The hard left has consolidated its control of the Democratic Party in the nation's biggest state.  One of the longest serving (and richest) senators in the party was humiliated over the weekend, as the activists attending the California Democratic Party convention drove from the stage and denied her the customary deference an incumbent receives.

Casey Toland of the Bay Area News Group writes:

In a surprising show of discontent with one of California's most enduring political leaders, the state Democratic Party declined to make an endorsement in this year's U.S. Senate race on Sunday, snubbing Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her bid for a fifth full term.

Her main challenger, State Senate leader Kevin de León, won the support of 54 percent of delegates at the state party convention here this weekend, short of the 60 percent needed to secure the party's endorsement. Feinstein received only 37 percent of the votes.

The rebuke of Feinstein by the party delegates comes even though the 25-year incumbent has led polls by wide margins and received the backing of political luminaries like Sen. Kamala Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Kevin de León, formerly known just as Kevin Leon, is a darling of the identity politics left, but he remains relatively unknown outside Los Angeles and lacks Feinstein's financial resources: 

Most California voters say they don't know enough about de León to have an opinion about him.  But he had a much more active presence than Feinstein at the convention, working the crowds and hustling between caucus meetings in white sneakers on Friday night.

Feinstein's campaign still has a huge financial upper hand over de León, as well as the built-in advantages of incumbency.  Her chief political strategist Bill Carrick played down the importance of the non-endorsement Sunday, arguing it would have little tangible benefit for de León.  "The reality is, he's way the hell behind," Carrick said.

California now has a so-called "jungle primary" system, in which the two top vote-getters in the primary election appear on the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation.  This was no doubt intended to allow two Democrats to run against each other in heavily Democratic California.  But it has the potential to divide the Democrats' candidates in crowded races and allow two Republicans to emerge as the top vote-getters, if only two prominent Republicans run against a large field of Democrats.  

In a blow to party leaders' efforts to consolidate support in key congressional districts, no candidates secured enough votes to lock down the party endorsement in two open seats represented by retiring Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce.

Christine Mai-Duc writes in the Los Angeles Times:

There are so many Democrats running for Congress in some districts that they could split the votes in the June 5 primary and send two Republicans to the November election, thanks to California's top-two primary system.  Democrats need 24 seats to reclaim the majority in the U.S. House – and are putting money and attention toward 10 California contests.  In other words, every race matters.

The volume of Democratic candidates is a particular problem in Issa's 49th Congressional District in San Diego and south Orange County.

On a recent phone call with 300 local activists, organizers fretted over the entry of a fifth Democrat into the race and rumors about a sixth.

"What I would like to do is ship all these candidates to a deserted island for a season of 'Survivor,'" Terra Lawson-Remer, who leads the Flip the 49th grassroots group, said on the call.

Democrats also see possible trouble in the 39th Congressional District, set mostly in northeastern Orange County and currently represented by Rep. Ed Royce, who is retiring.  There are at least eight Democratic candidates, and only one with experience as an elected official.

The fears are well founded.  In 2012, when the top-two primary system began, the same dynamic cost Democrats a congressional seat in the Inland Empire despite a 5 percentage point advantage in voter registration.

The question for this year's high-stakes midterm elections is how Democrats can continue to harness the supercharged atmosphere of activism, enthusiasm and fundraising sparked by the resistance to President Trump in California while boosting the candidates with the best shot at winning.

The hard-left base's enthusiasm and money are vital to the Democrats but anathema to the top-down instincts of the party's elders and could spell disaster on November if all this put together fractures the party.  

The establishment-dominated GOP faced many similar dilemmas and saw its base back candidates who went on to lose general elections.  Judge Roy Moore is only the latest in a string of losses of seats that should have been safe.  The Democrats now are divided with a far left base able to deny endorsements and back fringe candidates.  The jungle primary system in California only aggravates the problems.  Meanwhile, the GOP base enthusiastically backs President Trump, himself an insurgent.  The prospect of future fractures for the moment lies more on the left than the right of American politics.

The hard left has consolidated its control of the Democratic Party in the nation's biggest state.  One of the longest serving (and richest) senators in the party was humiliated over the weekend, as the activists attending the California Democratic Party convention drove from the stage and denied her the customary deference an incumbent receives.

Casey Toland of the Bay Area News Group writes:

In a surprising show of discontent with one of California's most enduring political leaders, the state Democratic Party declined to make an endorsement in this year's U.S. Senate race on Sunday, snubbing Sen. Dianne Feinstein in her bid for a fifth full term.

Her main challenger, State Senate leader Kevin de León, won the support of 54 percent of delegates at the state party convention here this weekend, short of the 60 percent needed to secure the party's endorsement. Feinstein received only 37 percent of the votes.

The rebuke of Feinstein by the party delegates comes even though the 25-year incumbent has led polls by wide margins and received the backing of political luminaries like Sen. Kamala Harris and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.

Kevin de León, formerly known just as Kevin Leon, is a darling of the identity politics left, but he remains relatively unknown outside Los Angeles and lacks Feinstein's financial resources: 

Most California voters say they don't know enough about de León to have an opinion about him.  But he had a much more active presence than Feinstein at the convention, working the crowds and hustling between caucus meetings in white sneakers on Friday night.

Feinstein's campaign still has a huge financial upper hand over de León, as well as the built-in advantages of incumbency.  Her chief political strategist Bill Carrick played down the importance of the non-endorsement Sunday, arguing it would have little tangible benefit for de León.  "The reality is, he's way the hell behind," Carrick said.

California now has a so-called "jungle primary" system, in which the two top vote-getters in the primary election appear on the November ballot, regardless of party affiliation.  This was no doubt intended to allow two Democrats to run against each other in heavily Democratic California.  But it has the potential to divide the Democrats' candidates in crowded races and allow two Republicans to emerge as the top vote-getters, if only two prominent Republicans run against a large field of Democrats.  

In a blow to party leaders' efforts to consolidate support in key congressional districts, no candidates secured enough votes to lock down the party endorsement in two open seats represented by retiring Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce.

Christine Mai-Duc writes in the Los Angeles Times:

There are so many Democrats running for Congress in some districts that they could split the votes in the June 5 primary and send two Republicans to the November election, thanks to California's top-two primary system.  Democrats need 24 seats to reclaim the majority in the U.S. House – and are putting money and attention toward 10 California contests.  In other words, every race matters.

The volume of Democratic candidates is a particular problem in Issa's 49th Congressional District in San Diego and south Orange County.

On a recent phone call with 300 local activists, organizers fretted over the entry of a fifth Democrat into the race and rumors about a sixth.

"What I would like to do is ship all these candidates to a deserted island for a season of 'Survivor,'" Terra Lawson-Remer, who leads the Flip the 49th grassroots group, said on the call.

Democrats also see possible trouble in the 39th Congressional District, set mostly in northeastern Orange County and currently represented by Rep. Ed Royce, who is retiring.  There are at least eight Democratic candidates, and only one with experience as an elected official.

The fears are well founded.  In 2012, when the top-two primary system began, the same dynamic cost Democrats a congressional seat in the Inland Empire despite a 5 percentage point advantage in voter registration.

The question for this year's high-stakes midterm elections is how Democrats can continue to harness the supercharged atmosphere of activism, enthusiasm and fundraising sparked by the resistance to President Trump in California while boosting the candidates with the best shot at winning.

The hard-left base's enthusiasm and money are vital to the Democrats but anathema to the top-down instincts of the party's elders and could spell disaster on November if all this put together fractures the party.  

The establishment-dominated GOP faced many similar dilemmas and saw its base back candidates who went on to lose general elections.  Judge Roy Moore is only the latest in a string of losses of seats that should have been safe.  The Democrats now are divided with a far left base able to deny endorsements and back fringe candidates.  The jungle primary system in California only aggravates the problems.  Meanwhile, the GOP base enthusiastically backs President Trump, himself an insurgent.  The prospect of future fractures for the moment lies more on the left than the right of American politics.