By Miriam Raftery
June 6, 2018 (Sacramento) – U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein won 43.8% of the vote in a primary—four times the number of votes won by any of her three dozen or so challengers. But she fell short of the 50% needed to win outright. So in the fall, a run-off between Feinstein and likely second-place finisher Kevin De Leone, former State Senate president, apears the likely scenario.
De Leon drew just 11.3% of the vote. The next closest candiadte, Republican James Bradley, has 8.8%.
All precincts statewide have reported, however an error in Los Angeles County resulted in 118,000 voters left off the voting rolls. They have cast provisional ballots which have yet to be counted. Late mail-in ballots and other provisional ballots around the state also remain to be tallied.
The Democratic Party took the rare step of not endorsing either the incumbent, Feinstein, nor any Democratic challenger. De Leon sought to challenge Feinstein on the left, claiming she has not stood up forcibly enough against the Trump administration.
But Feinstein, who turns 85 next week, is a fighter who has taken on numerous high visibility issues in recent weeks and months, shoring up the Democratic base in a crushing victory. Some of her recent actions have also shown the value of seniority on key Senate committees.
Last week she announced plans to introduce legislation to halt the U.S. from separating children from parents at the border, an act that the United Nations has said violates international human rights laws.
Just before the election, Feinstein released a report on the Senate Intelligence Committee’s Russian collusion investigation, and in earlier hearings she made national headlines for her fierce interrogation of key witnesses.
She recently reversed her stance against the death penalty, voted against Gina Haspel as CIA director due to her past overseeing of torture, and called for a renewal of the assault weapons ban that Feinstein originally authored before Congress allowed it to sunset. She also grilled Facebook executives over privacy violations, promising the male executives present, “We are not going to go away, gentlemen.” Feinstein has long been a champion of women’s rights as well.
Though some progressive Democrats are still rankled over her past support of the Iraq War and drones, Feinstein has taken strides to appease the party’s liberal base, making de Leon’s path forward daunting.
De Leon, who hails from a barrio neighborhood, has been a leader in the State Senate to push through environmental measures to curb greenhouse gas emissions as well as controversial sanctuary state measures protecting immigrants.
Bradley, the closest Republican challenger, is a veteran who says he has international business experience. He ran on an “America first” platform supportive of the Trump administration, by contrast, attacking California rule under Democrats’ control.