California Democrats decline to endorse Dianne Feinstein for re-election

The California Democratic Party rebuked its senior senator early Sunday by declining to make an endorsement in the state’s U.S. Senate race.

State Senate leader Kevin de León, a fellow Democrat mounting a progressive challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, won the support of 54 percent of the delegates at the party’s convention in San Diego over the weekend. Only 37 percent of the delegates backed the 25-year incumbent, who is seeking her fifth term in office.

The backing of 60 percent of the delegates was needed to secure the party’s official endorsement.

In a statement following the vote, de León hailed the result as “an astounding rejection of politics as usual,” one that signaled growing momentum for his campaign.

“California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines,” de León said. “We all deserve a leader who will take our climate action to Washington, and will fight each and every day to protect our human and civil rights, our immigrant families and Dreamers, champion universal health care and create good paying middle class jobs.”

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Democrats who could challenge Trump in 2020

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) - Gillibrand has long been seen as potential presidential material, and her decision to vote against almost every one of Trump's Cabinet nominees has earned her renewed praise on the left. A recent profile in New York magazine further edged her toward the national stage.

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Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) - In her new book, Warren reveals for the first time that she considered running in 2016, when liberals were begging her to enter the race. This year, Warren joined the Armed Services Committee, filling a major national security gap in her resume. First though, she'll have to win reelection next year in Massachusetts, where some Warren allies expect Republicans to spend heavily to defeat or at least damage her.

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Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) - Booker is a crowd favorite whenever he speaks to Democratic audiences and is expected to headline several party fundraising events this year. One of the few African-Americans in the Senate, Booker has a big social media following and is a darling of the Manhattan donor class. His precedent-breaking testimony against Attorney General Jeff Sessions was a high-profile event that endeared him to many on the left.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) - Sanders won millions of votes during his unexpectedly strong presidential primary bid last year, which gave him a massive following and small-dollar donor base that's the envy of many Dems. He's the most popular politician in America, according to some surveys, and inspires enthusiastic loyalty. But Sanders would be 78 in 2020, and while his age doesn't seem to slow him down, Democrats may want a fresher face. 

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Former Gov. Martin O'Malley (MD) - No one has shown more interest in 2020 so far than O'Malley, who has been traveling to key states to campaign for Democrats and who told NBC News in January that he "just might" run for president again. O'Malley failed to crack 1% in the Iowa caucuses last time around. But he was convinced there no room for anyone in a race so clearly defined by Hillary Clinton and Sanders, and insists that he could perform better under different circumstances.

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Joe Biden - The former vice president ran for the top job twice and nearly did a third time in 2016. Could he really make a go of it in 2020? "Never say never," Biden told "Late Show" host Stephen Colbert. "You don't know what's going to happen. I mean, hell Donald Trump's gonna be 74. I'll be 77 and in better shape. I mean, what the hell?"

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo (NY) - Cuomo has built record of accomplishments in his time leading New York State, including the recent passage of a universal college tuition program, even though he's also racked up some detractors along the way. And unlike some of the other 2020 possibles, he's hardly shown a relish for taking on Trump.

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) - The former California Attorney General just got to the Senate in January, but many party insiders think she's interested in higher office and that she would be a formidable candidate for the White House. Political talent scouts have been watching her for years, with a 2015 Washington Post headline asking, "Is Kamala Harris the next Barack Obama?"

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The vote is seen as a sign of nagging discomfort among progressives to Feinstein’s centrist and hawkish brand of politics. Her skeptical view of single-payer health care, anti-marijuana stance, and her votes in favor of some President Donald Trump’s nominations to key administration jobs rankled activists at the core of the state’s Democratic Party.

Yet Feinstein, who will turn 85 years old later this year, is still expected to cruise to victory over her relatively unknown opponent. She holds a lead over de León of nearly 30 percentage points — 46 percent to 17 percent ― in a recent poll conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California.

Feinstein also has a considerable fundraising advantage. While the senator started the year with nearly $10 million in the bank, her rival had only about $360,000 cash on hand.

California Democrats didn’t endorse in the governor’s race, the state’s other marquee contest this year.  Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom led with 39 percent of the delegates, compared with 30 percent for state Treasurer John Chiang, 20 percent for former state schools chief Delaine Eastin, and 9 percent for former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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