Saturday, August 04, 2018

California U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

94 Days Until Election Day

California U.S. Senate

Status: Democrat Incumbent

2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Safe Democrat/Likely Feinstein

Under California's somewhat unique "jungle primary" rules, Democrats were able to achieve something that they fell short of in this year's race for Governor. There will be an all-Democrat general election for the U.S. Senate. Republicans are shut out of the final process, just as they were two years ago for the state's other Senate seat.

The California Republican Party, at least on the statewide level, is pretty dormant, and members are mostly focused on more local down-ballot races. The leading Republican in this year's June primary was businessman James Bradley who received around eight percent of the vote, but still finished nearly four points behind the second place finisher. Before the voting though, there was some consternation as a poll showed that Republican candidate Patrick Little had a statistical chance of making into the general election against a Democrat. Nobody really knew who the heck Patrick Little was though and it turned out he was a severe anti-Semitic conspiracy theorist. Republicans quickly denounced his candidacy and he finished at just 1.3 percent of the primary vote.

The election this November will be between incumbent Dianne Feinstein who at the age of 85 and having served in the Senate for over 25 years, is seeking another term. Her decision, which was much anticipated for months, though she never publicly claimed to be leaning towards retirement, was a bit of a disappointment to the plethora of California Democrats who have been waiting for her to retire. Many felt that it was time for somebody younger, more progressive, and perhaps less white. Over 20 candidates, of all parties, including several Democrats ran in the primary, but the leading challenger was Kevin de Leon (actual name Kevin Leon, and I do not know the key shortcut to type the accent mark in his last name), a State Senator who had been President Pro Tempore of that body.

Throughout her years in the Senate and going back before to her decades long involvement in politics, Feinstein has been known as a relatively moderate Democrat, at least by the standards of her hometown of San Francisco. While liberal on many issues, she has been in favor of things such as the death penalty and always cultivated the image of more of a pragmatist and less of a fiery partisan than her longtime Senate colleague Barbara Boxer. de Leon set out to challenge the incumbent from her left and claimed that she was not sufficiently committed enough to fighting Donald Trump. Early in his term, she had called for "patience" in dealing with the polarizing President and made a statement in which she said she believed he had it in him to become a "good President." That remark created tremendous backlash for her and she has been far harsher publicly on Trump since.

In February of this year, California Democrats held their convention and refused to endorse their longtime incumbent, who in decades past was once considered to be the first ever female Vice Presidential nominee. She received just 37 percent of the delegates' vote. Falling short of securing the needed 60 percent for the official party nod was de Leon, who received 54 percent.

Even with this rebuke by party activists, there was never any doubt that Feinstein would finish first in the primary and remain a heavy favorite for reelection. At the June voting, she did better than many expected finishing ahead of de Leon 44-12. This result could have basically stopped any anti-Feinstein momentum, but de Leon has persisted and last month, the 330 member statewide party executive board voted to endorse de Leon 65 percent to 7 percent for Feinstein. Once again, 60 percent was needed for the nod, and knowing she could not achieve that, Feinstein had asked the party not to offer any endorsement. That option received 28 percent.

To be clear, the endorsed Democrat candidate for U.S. Senate in the largest state of the union is Kevin de Leon, not incumbent Dianne Feinstein, despite her easily winning the most votes in the primary. That speaks volumes as to how much California Democrats want someone more liberal than Feinstein and more committed to complete opposition to Trump and other Republicans.

To the extent that the state's Republicans even bother to vote in this race, they are likely to side with Feinstein over her more liberal opponent. If things are close, that could be the key difference to her winning a sixth full term. Right now though, despite much opposition from within her own party, Feinstein seems to have enough votes in the state to withstand the uprising on the left and continue serving into her 90s.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 1 D (1 Safe), 1 R (1 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
24 D (23 holdovers, 1 Safe), 43 R (42 holdovers, 1 Tossup)


At 4:21 PM, Blogger Steve Boudreaux said...

2018 will be her last campaign for statewide office.


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