Californian Democrats rebuked Senator Dianne Feinstein at their annual congress this weekend, refusing her approval of this year's Senate race and giving her main liberal opponent, State Council Chairman Kevin de León, a majority.
Feinstein Now de León is represented in a June presidential election that could define what the Democratic Party stands for in the age of President Trump. The challenger runs on universal Medicare, free tuition and other issues that have captured the base of the party. While Democrats in more conservative states have avoided primary challenges, activists see the California race as one of several where they can cleanse the party without risking a Republican victory in November.
"It shows that the progressive arm of the Democratic Party is moving its muscles," said Nina Turner, president of our revolution, a Sanders-based group to select left-wing candidates. "It sends a message to the establishment that nobody drives for nothing."
Only 37 percent of the delegates to the nationwide convention held in San Diego this year supported Feinstein in their bid for a fifth full term. More than 54 percent supported de León, who entered the race in October and left Feinstein's left behind in terms of health, taxes and immigration.
"It shows where the base of the party is," said Rep. Ro. Khanna (D-Calif.), A freshman in Congress who had called on the Democrats to challenge Feinstein from the left. "Kevin had come to this convention for 1
The candidates needed 60 percent of the vote to win the party's support, which made Feinstein the first established senator in decades to do so without formal support from the party in elementary school. The size of the overthrow surprised some Democrats, as the convention rules favored elected representatives and their elected delegates, and most of the party business had supported Feinstein. But last year, supporters of Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Had organized to take over local parties and increase their strength at the State Congress.
"Californian Democrats are hungry for new leadership that is fighting for California values from the front lines, not marginally ambiguous," de León said in a statement on Sunday morning. "We all deserve a leader who will bring our climate change policy to Washington and fight each day to protect our human and civil rights, immigrant families and dreamers, to promote universal health care, and to create well-paid middle-class jobs."  The Californian candidates do not need the support of their party to enter the primaries. In 1990, as a candidate for Governor of California, Feinstein was denied the party's approval of the Congress, in part thanks to her support for the death penalty. She won the nomination and lost to Republican Pete Wilson in November.
But until Sunday morning de León had little evidence that his challenge for Feinstein could succeed. The Senator entered the year with more than $ 9.8 million in campaign funds; de Leon only had $ 359,261. A public opinion poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California in February found that it led León by 29 points, with 33 percent of those voting voters undecided.
Feinstein, who had crossed with the party of her left swords since beginning her political career in San Francisco, had voted with the left of her Democratic caucus on questions of the status of undocumented immigrants brought to the United States as children. At the congress, Feinstein focused on weapons security, the topic that made her a national figure in 1978 after the assassination of George Moscone made her Mayor of San Francisco.
"I authored the assault rifle ban that lasted 10 years." Feinstein told the delegates. It's my job now, it's my mission, I'm totally anxious to achieve that. "
De León's strong showing at the convention changed the narrative and demonstrated the difficulties that Feinstein – who turns 85 – confronted with leaving a changing party behind.
The State Senator has gained the support of more left-wing unions, such as the Service Employees International Union and the California Nurses Association, and has attacked Feinstein for conservative votes cast after her arrival in the Senate in 1993. She is one of only five Senate Democrats who voted for the Iraq war, and the only one to support the 2001 George W. Bush tax cuts. De León, who advocated universal health care in California, also accused Feinstein of challenging the Medicare-for-All bill introduced by Sanders last year.
"Kevin was paying our bill for the one-time payer, and that has become a litmus test across the country, whether people like it or not," said RoseAnn DeMoro, executive director of the Nursing Association. "Dianne Feinstein is the most progressive city in America and she does not support a single payer – that says it all.The founding policy of Washington, DC, is embodied by Dianne Feinstein."
Democrats who established several Republican anti-insurgent races over the past decade exploited, are now exposed to several own family disputes. Deputy Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) Is being challenged in the suburbs of Chicago for his rejection of abortion rights. In Maryland, Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin (D-Md.) Is being challenged by Chelsea Manning, a former private army officer who was arrested after sending secret government documents to WikiLeaks.
But the Democratic Civil Wars were isolated in areas where every party candidate is favored and where the Republicans have not recruited strong challengers. Democrats in redder states, such as Indiana and West Virginia, face symbolic challenges only; Rep. Collin C. Peterson (D-Minn.), An anti-Abolitioner who is considered the only Democrat who can hold his rural district, has no primary challenger
Even a fierce showdown between Feinstein and de León in June could end up supporting the California Democrats thanks to electoral laws. The party's top two system sends out the candidates who received the most votes in the summer, regardless of their party affiliation to the parliamentary elections in November. No serious Republican challenger has emerged to exploit the democrats' split; Gary Coson, the only Republican candidate who submitted a report on campaign funding, had only $ 130 at the beginning of the year.
In 2016, this system blocked the Republicans from a Senate race that was eventually won by Senator Kamala D. Harris (D-California). While Trump led the GOP ticket and did not pageant the Democrats, the Republicans flooded the state legislature this year, holding orange county for the first time since the 1930s. This helped Hillary Clinton carry once several home districts comfortably won by Republicans, and to retire two of them.
No Republican running this year for Senate or Governor in California has been hit in double digits in public polls, increasing the possibility of Democrats only outruns in November. And Turner mocked the idea that a California state code could hurt the party.
"It's called democracy," Turner said. "The last time I checked, we run to the office in America, it may not feel good if you're an established provider, but you'd better get used to it."