The California Democratic Party concluded its state convention over the weekend without endorsing longtime U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, nor a single candidate in the top four races on the ticket.
According to party rules, a candidate must receive 60 percent of the vote from convention delegates in order to secure the state party’s nomination. During this year’s convention held in San Diego, no candidate for U.S. Senate, governor, lieutenant governor or state attorney general hit the 60 percent threshold.
In fact, Feinstein significantly trailed her primary opponent, who received a majority of the votes in the Senate endorsement balloting. Some observers attribute the indecisiveness at the convention to division in the state party between progressives and establishment Democrats or moderates.
Feinstein, who has served continuously in the U.S. Senate since 1992, is facing a primary challenge from state Senate President Pro Tempore Kevin de Leon. Due to California’s top-two primary system, it also probable that Feinstein and de Leon will square off in the 2018 general election.
At the convention, de Leon garnered 54 percent of the vote, while Feinstein only received 37 percent. Following the vote, de Leon stated in a tweet that a signal had been sent to Washington.
“The outcome of last night’s endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual. A signal to Washington that we stand shoulder-to-shoulder against a complacent status quo,” de Leon said.
Despite the outcome of the state convention vote, Feinstein maintains a huge fundraising lead over de Leon, and she is significantly ahead in the polls as well. A poll recently released by the Public Policy Institute of California placed Feinstein at 46 percent and de Leon at 17 percent with 33 percent undecided.
In the governor’s race, current Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom placed first but only secured 39 percent of the vote. State Treasurer John Chiang came in second with 30 percent, followed by former state superintendent of public instruction Delaine Eastin with 20 percent and former Los Angeles mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at 9 percent.
State Sen. Ed Hernandez edged former U.S. ambassador to Hungary Eleni Kounalakis by just 17 votes in the lieutenant governor’s race. Hernandez received 42 percent of the vote, while Kounalakis received 41 percent.
Like Feinstein, current state Attorney General Xavier Becerra failed both to secure the party endorsement and to come in first in his race. State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones easily edged Becerra 56 percent to 42 percent, though, he, too, fell short of securing a nomination.
“Our big victory at the party convention clearly demonstrates that my message is resonating with voters – our next attorney general needs to be a fighter, not a follower,” Jones said in a statement.
Becerra was appointed attorney general after previous state AG Kamala Harris won a U.S. Senate seat. Becerra has only been in office as attorney general since Jan. 2017.
Jones, meanwhile, has received some backing from the increasingly powerful progressive wing of the state party.