In a hard fought battle against an entrenched Senator from 25 years in office, Progressive challenger Kevin de León, the former California Senate Pro Tem, just won the Democratic Party endorsement, voted on by the party’s Executive Board in Oakland on Saturday evening. De León won at 65 percent siding with him, or 217 out of the 333 delegates, according to stats from the Party. The devastating part for Feinstein was only 7 percent endorsed her, or 22 votes, and 94 gave no endorsement whatsoever, or 28 percent. It was a crushing blow for the Feinstein campaign.
De León has had grassroots support that couldn’t be shut down no matter how hard the establishment tried. The movement he started when he began his campaign couldn’t be shut down. He nearly won the endorsement the first time at 54%. This time he went over the top.
“First, to the members of the California Democratic Party, this is your victory, said de León. “Earning the endorsement of so many leaders and activists of the California Democratic Party isn’t just an honor and a privilege; today’s vote is a clear-eyed rejection of politics as usual in Washington, D.C. Through years of hard-won progress, we have proven to the world that California can forge a path for the rest of the nation.”
Party activists and early supporters of de León have been hitting it hard at phone banks, fundraisers and on Act Blue to give the candidate what he needed to keep his campaign going. Feinstein has on many occasions let the Party faithful down. She declared support for the death penalty at state conventions in the 1990’s, but now that she faces a Progressive candidate, she says she opposes the death penalty.
For his part de León now having won the Democratic Party endorsement has renewed his call for debates. Feinstein said after the primary she would debate her challenger.
“The nation’s most accomplished Democratic Party is leading the call for a new generation of leadership who will fight to advance a bold agenda. I have never been more committed to giving every Californian a real opportunity to succeed,” said de León. “We have presented Californians with the first real alternative to the worn-out Washington playbook in a quarter-century. As the California Democratic Party’s endorsed candidate, I renew my call for a debate.”
Dorothy Reik, Executive Board delegate, early supporter of de León and President of the Progressive Democrats of the Santa Monica Mountains (PDSMM) organized phone banks, handed out KDL buttons, even the ones off her shirt, to everyone she met. She organized fundraisers for de León and voting guides for the party.
“Kevin will bring California’s values and economic growth to the rest of America,” said Reik. “A brand new country was born tonight. Feinstein should concede.”
US Senate Candidate de León ran on a straight Progressive platform: single payer healthcare, a woman’s right to choose, abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency, clean energy — which is a continuation of his time as Senate Pro Tem where he ushered through environmental bills like SB350 where 50 percent of California’s energy must come from renewable sources by 2030 — gun control, free public education, immigration reform and legalized cannabis on the federal level.
Recently de León came to the Santa Monica Progressive Democratic Club in the City of Santa Monica. He spoke of the McConnell Rule and the Supreme Court in the US Senate and a number of other topics.
“Obviously the McConnell Rule that was in force on Democrats during the Obama Administration during the last few years was unbecoming, obviously. But I will say this, Republicans play hard. And they don’t capitulate. Whether you concur or not concur, and I know you don’t concur. One thing is unambiguous, they play hard ball. Things that we would be shocked by, they don’t care. They move forward. The GOP tax plan vote in December quite frankly was unpopular among even Republican voters around the country. The leadership made a decision. They said full steam ahead. They have the courage of their convictions, whether we agree with their convictions or not, and I know we don’t. But they move forward. There is no room for ambiguity or vagueness. We capitulate too much in Washington. As a result this is what happens. That’s why folks are getting tired of the same-o same-o from the establishment in Washington.”
There was a rousing applause from the room full of supporters that came to hear him speak. De León flew in to LAX from Sacramento at 5:30pm and made it to the Club’s meeting room by 7:00pm to talk to supporters. He came to Santa Monica specifically to speak just to that group for that hour or so visit. When he was finished he got right back on a plane and headed back to Sacramento.
“I know when I became leader of the California State Senate by definition one could say well you are the establishment,” said de León. “I made the decision to say as leader, I’m going to move policies and use my political capital while I occupy a position of great power to effectuate positive change with raising the minimum wage to fifteen dollars an hour, equal pay for women doing equal work, the most far reaching climate change policies in the entire nation, cap in trade in terms of making sure that at least a quarter of the billions of dollars go into poor communities that are disproportionately impacted by climate change as well as other smog pollutants.”
Feinstein’s campaign issued a statement to the press that appeared to de León’s supporters as an attempt to temper the loss.
“While 217 delegates expressed their view today, Senator Feinstein won by 2.1 million votes and earned 70 percent of the Democratic vote in the California primary election, carrying every county by double digits over her opponent,” Millman said. “We are confident that a large majority of California Democrats will vote to reelect Sen. Feinstein in November.”
From the June 6, primary, Feinstein only got 44.2 percent of the vote. Feinstein also only got 37 percent of the last Democratic endorsement earlier this year to de León’s 56 percent, neither receiving the necessary 60% at that time out of 2,800 delegates.
To de León supporters, this endorsement vote is the strongest rebuke of the Feinstein campaign yet. What this means for the Progressive candidate now is de León will be on the California Democratic Party slate mailers, door hangers and email blasts with an outreach that tops 2 million. This also will lead to a huge boost to de León’s campaign coffers. At last filing on May 16, de León had $693,689 in the bank. The endorsement means he can now raise money in conjunction with the Party.