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Senate Hopeful Challenging Five-Term Incumbent Feinstein's Liberal Credentials

California Senate Leader Kevin de León (D) told Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) not to bother coming home for the holidays if she refused to take a pledge, as Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) had, to show support for the DREAM Act by blocking a year-end spending federal spending bill.

“Don’t come back to California if you haven’t demonstrated your leadership and your courage to stand up for these young men and women,” de León said during a December demonstration in favor of the DREAM Act.

“Dreamers make up hundreds of thousands of Sen. Feinstein’s constituents, and while talking a good game on Dreamers, when it comes to standing up and supporting them, she is AWOL,” de León added.

De León is on his way out of Sacramento thanks to term limits. He has his eye on Capitol Hill and wants Feinstein’s job. If recent polling is correct, de León stands a chance of winning it as the result of a left-wing assault on the Democratic Party’s Old Guard.

In an email announcing his campaign, de León said his primary bid was as much about resisting the Trump administration as it was showing a new way to the Democratic Party.

“We now stand at the front lines of a historic struggle for the very soul of America, against a president without one,” he said. “Every day, his administration wages war on our people and our progress. He disregards our voices. Demonizes our diversity. Attacks our civil rights, our clean air, our health access and our public safety.”

A December UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies poll showed Feinstein to be well ahead of de León, the first Latino to lead the California Senate. But only 41 percent of likely voters supported her, while 27 percent backed de León and 38 percent described themselves as undecided.

“Feinstein’s relatively modest lead is somewhat surprising given that the senator is nearly universally known by voters, while relatively few of those polled know enough about de León to offer an opinion,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the Berkeley IGS poll.

Feinstein may have begun digging her own political grave when, in September, she refused to call for President Trump’s impeachment. Instead, she urged “patience” with the Trump administration.

De León told the Los Angeles Times that Feinstein’s comment didn’t reflect the “proper tone or tenor.”

“We don’t owe Trump patience,” de León said. “We owe Californians resistance.”

Sean Clegg, a Democratic Party operative in San Francisco, told the Times Feinstein’s “patience” comment was “Dianne being Dianne.” But Clegg said it showed that Feinstein is “greatly out of step with where Democrats are, and most Californian voters are.”

“The base is on fire like we really have not seen in more than a generation,” Clegg said.