Politics

No GOP Candidates Step Up to Challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein

California Democrat will likely face state Sen. Kevin de León in general election

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein faces a challenge from the left in her bid for a fifth full term this November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California’s 2018 Senate race will likely be a Democrat-on-Democrat battle for the second consecutive cycle after no big-name Republican candidates stepped up to challenge Sen. Dianne Feinstein before the filing deadline.

The Golden State’s jungle primary pits the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, against one another in the general election.

State Sen. Kevin de León is challenging Feinstein and touting his more liberal credentials that he says better represent the political mood of the state.

First elected in 1992, Feinstein, 84, is seeking her fifth full term. Her campaign had $10 million in cash on hand at the end of 2017, per Federal Elections Commission records.

Watch — Primary Primer: Your Guide to the 2018 Midterms

De León had just $360,000 at the year’s end.

The race for California governor also looks poised to pit two Democrats against each other. A poll last month by the Public Policy Institute of California had Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa leading the pack. The ripple effect from not having a statewide candidate on the ballot this November could harm vulnerable Republican House incumbents who may see depressed GOP turnout at the ballots.

For the first time in nearly 30 years, Feinstein did not secure the California Democratic Party’s endorsement for her re-election.

De León garnered 54 percent of the vote at the party convention in February, falling short of the 60 percent threshold needed for an endorsement.

Longtime Feinstein adviser Bill Carrick said the campaign team chalked that up as a win.

“What we literally did was try to make sure that we ran a good campaign for the endorsement process, but our most imperative goal was to make sure he didn’t get it,” Carrick said of de León . “I think everybody was pretty sober about getting to 60.”

De León interpreted the result differently.

“The outcome of [the] endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign’s momentum as we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder against a complacent status quo,” he said in a February statement. “California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines.”

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