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Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s challenges come from the left

By in Press Enterprise on October 24, 2017

By The Editorial Board

When state Senate leader Kevin de León announced that he would challenge incumbent U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein in the 2018 primary, he told his supporters he is doing it because they “deserve a seat at the table.” He added: “I’ve taken on the establishment all my life, and I’ve been told to wait my turn.”

For political observers the battle of these two Democratic power players has major implications for next year’s midterm election in California. But, beyond that, this battle underscores the fracturing of the Democratic Party between its establishment wing and its progressive, or Berniecrat, wing.

De León belongs to a generation of California Democrats whose ambitions are caught in a bottleneck behind an older, less progressive generation that’s still on the job. Hillary Clinton’s failed presidential bid shined a spotlight on the growing schism within the party. Progressive Democrats who weren’t comfortable with Clinton as the presidential nominee were told that she was the best candidate because she was the candidate who could win. When she didn’t emerge the victor, many Bernie Sanders supporters argued it was because she wasn’t progressive enough.

De León will likely tap into support from the Berniecrats, the restive progressive wing of the Democratic Party, which has expressed frustration and anger at Feinstein’s willingness to show “patience” with President Donald Trump instead of leading a campaign to impeach and remove him from office.

With Trump in the White House, the new mantra for California Democrats is progressivism and resistance. Feinstein and de León will likely be one of many battles throughout the state and country where establishment Democrats will face challenges by more progressive candidates from within the ranks of their own political party.

It’s not dissimilar from 2010 when the Republican Party saw the emergence of the Tea Party in response to Obamacare, among other things. […]    

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