Democrats Eager to Remake Party’s Image

Most of Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s Golden State colleagues in the House are declining to endorse her reelection bid in its earliest stages, highlighting the frustrations of younger Democrats bristling at the perceived lack of upward mobility for future party leaders.

The Hill contacted the offices of all 39 Democrats in California’s House delegation over the past week to gauge the level of support for the veteran incumbent seeking a fifth full term. Twelve have endorsed Feinstein; one is backing state Sen. Kevin de León; a handful said they’re staying neutral; and most did not respond at all.

The silence comes amid an escalating clamor for generational change among a growing crop of aspiring Democrats who are frustrated with their minority status in both chambers and are eager to remake the party’s image.

And while Feinstein’s campaign says it’s too early to judge the strength of de León’s bid — and they’re confident in the endorsements they’ve won so far — there’s also a sense that the coming primary could be her most challenging to date. With that in mind, they’re leaving nothing to chance.

Feinstein, 84, is already working the phones furiously, said Bill Carrick, her lead political strategist, and the campaign has set its fundraising goal at a whopping “$30 million — minimum.”
“She is going to take this very seriously,” Carrick said Monday by phone, “but it’s not clear what kind of candidate he’s going to be.”

Feinstein’s policy chops and seniority have put her at the front lines of some of Capitol Hill’s most crucial debates, most notably the ongoing investigations into Russia’s election meddling, which she’s pursued doggedly from her perch as senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee and a top member of the Intelligence panel. And the lawmakers rushing to back Feinstein this year, including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), are quick to tout that experience as an invaluable asset to the party.

“Senator Feinstein is one of the most thoughtful, substantive and effective leaders in Congress,” Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted earlier this month.

“We need her leadership now more than ever.”

But critics maintain that Feinstein has grown out of touch with a state that’s moved to the left since she first came to Washington in 1992. They’re pointing to recent comments urging Democrats to have “some patience” with President Trump and remarks she made last month suggesting that former President Obama may have overstepped his legal authority in creating the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program — an argument Trump made in dismantling DACA, and one most Democrats have rejected out of hand.

“This is not the same state it was 25 years ago,” said Roger Salazar, spokesman for de León’s campaign, citing “a hunger for new leadership.”

Democracy for America, a liberal activist group founded by former Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean, quickly endorsed de León, 50, characterizing him as the more tenacious liberal voice needed to counter Trump. And Rep. Ro Khanna, a freshman Democrat representing California’s Silicon Valley, has echoed that message, saying a strong primary challenge to Feinstein will excite grass-roots Democrats.

“Our party was the strongest in modern times after the 2008 primary election between Obama and Hillary [Clinton]. Both Obama and Hillary helped energize voters,” Khanna told The Hill on Monday. “I am confident that a competitive election for the California Senate Seat will do the same and help us take seven seats back in California.”

Carrick said Feinstein’s campaign had $4 million in cash on hand before raising an additional $400,000 in the week after Feinstein announced her reelection bid on Oct. 9. Salazar acknowledged that de León won’t be able to keep up with Feinstein’s fundraising — “We’re clearly not going to compete with her dollar-for-dollar,” he said — but the campaign is confident it can raise enough money to stage a stiff challenge. Salazar declined to put a figure on the campaign’s fundraising goal.

Aside from Khanna, Salazar said Rep. Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.) has also endorsed de León, though Gomez’s office did not confirm that claim.

Thirteen California Democrats — a full third of the delegation — are members of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (CHC), and only one, Blue Dog Rep. Jim Costa, has publicly endorsed Feinstein.

The CHC’s campaign arm, known as Bold PAC, is known for bucking the party establishment to endorse Hispanic candidates, as it did last year in backing former Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) in her unsuccessful bid for Senate against now Sen. Kamala Harris (D).

Neither Bold PAC nor its chairman, Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-Calif.), responded to requests for comment, but several Democratic aides said the PAC’s endorsement of de León is likely.

The push for generational change atop the Democratic ranks has been a continuing storyline within a party that lost the House majority in 2010 and ceded the Senate in 2014. The debate was renewed recently when Rep. Linda Sánchez (Calif.), the fifth-ranking House Democrat and former head of the CHC, called for a new leadership team in the House after 14 years under Pelosi.

Sánchez is among the long list of California Democrats who have declined to weigh in on the Feinstein primary.

Some of Feinstein’s backers are lashing out at those restive lawmakers, characterizing them as opportunists simply looking to advance their own careers.

“There is no push in the party [for generational change],” said Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), who called Feinstein “an incredibly important asset.”

“It’s just some people who use generational change as a way to advance themselves.”

Garamendi predicted Feinstein will “crush anybody” in both the primary and general elections. And he offered a warning to de León.

“He’s making a big mistake,” he said. “He will not advance his career. He may very well terminate his career.”


  • disqus_rEWjgfyzIp

    New motto for the Democraps ” free gropes for all, this is our better deal” then you have the runner up ” be crooked just dont get caught” and if those dont get them elected we have the the fall back one of ” turn in your firearms , we can get the police to protect you” or ” we import workers so you can collect welfare”. I think the democraps have done their party in with people like chuckie and old nancy

    • Paul

      Funny. I like it.
      Free health insurance for all except the white working man.

  • Wyatt

    Hmmm , kind of akin to making a silk purse out of a sows ear ! Not gonna happen

  • Ah nutz

    nah …way too late…their stink is un-washable.

  • VirgoVince

    SORRY, Dianne, WE still can’t fix STUPID!!

  • mike

    I do not believe anything dims from California do will make the party appear different than what it is. The party of hate, racism and all the other names they call me. A Trump supporter.

  • p0rkch0pian

    How can Communists and Fascists schmoozing with other Communists and Fascists be painted in pastels?

  • Paul

    I wonder if they will include white working class rednecks?

  • Kirk Kahler

    remake hmmm I don’t know if they can ! just look at how many party members are in trouble right now from child sex crimes to corruption ! look at how many party members that are going to get in to trouble here real damn soon ! look at all the lies that have been told to the American people in the last eight years ! look at all the corruption that has been exposed in the last eight month ! look at how many terror/hate groups they support and openly support there violence ! there party is 3.4 million in debt ! look at what kind of people they take money from ! so I really don’t see them doing much other than damage control ! good lord just look at how in just the last few days how they have turned on each other lol there party is a mess and unhinged and that is what you get when most of your party are corrupt and liars !!

    • Mikey Doesn’t Like It

      They think that moving the donkey party farther to the left than it already is will endear them to more Americans? Like an earlier comment said “Ain’t no cure for stupid!’.

      Just to emphasize how out of touch the lunatic lefties are I just heard this morning that the California Donkeycratic assembly is flush with a huge surplus due to the booming economy and do they want to use that money to repair and rebuild California’s failing infrastructure such as fixing the dams that almost failed this last rainy season, freeways that badly need repair, you know, things that would benefit ALL Californians? Oh no we couldn’t have that! They want to use the money to pay for health care for illegals! FFS, how about health care and housing for the state’s AMERICAN homeless both veterans and non-veterans! Ain’t gonna happen because that wont buy them any votes and they keep proving thats all they care about time and time again.

  • don lavrich

    that’s o.k. dems keep putting these old rhinos back in and your party will surely crumble, and make it a lot better for the repubs. thank you much!

  • Wayne Peterkin

    If this were true, Thomas Perez was the wrong choice for head of the DNC for sure. He is a radical left-wingnut if there ever was one!

    • Freedom

      What’s the difference..:-)

  • Freedom

    No matter what they do they will always have that (SMELL)…..You can Smell a Democrat miles away….

  • Alan

    If they want an honest remake their symbol should be a hammer and sickle.

  • dlmstl

    Like San Fran Nan, DiFi will leave feet first at room temperature. This kind of power is the ultimate addiction. The only remedy is term limits and they’ll go to war to prevent that from ever happening.

  • Tuxedo_Plowboy

    They are Communists but are still trying to hide this fact???

  • Daniel Mount

    The other Evil Hillary is Dianne Feinstein the one that said that killing Children is a good thing for our Country.

  • Steven Gobble

    Maybe they should wait to redo their image, let’s find out who’s going to jail first and if theirs any Democrats left then they can redo with whoever is left. If it were up to me, I would love to see this party dissolved because they are nothing more then law breakers and liars. How could anyone believe a word they are saying? their the biggest hypocrites ever in politics lead by the Clintons. These assholes did nothing but fuck up American cities and nobody’s doing anything about it.

  • Tiger

    Get the Brown Shirts for all the college students , then get the uniforms for Antifa, BLM, Black Panthers, Nation of Islam and Muslim organizations etc, with the swastika on them. Have the Demonic rats in congress and around the U.S. in office wear their Black Leather long coats so we know they are the Gestapo. Oh and get the black leather for the FBI, CIA and all.

    That ought to do it.