Politics

Feinstein to Face Democratic Challenger in California Senate Race

State Sen. Kevin de León advanced to November

State Sen. Kevin de Leon will challenge Democratic Sen. DIanne Feinstein in November. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Updated 11:49 a.m. | Sen. Dianne Feinstein will face fellow Democrat, state Sen. Kevin de León, in her bid for a fifth Senate term. The intra-party fight could turn the California Senate race into a contest over the direction of the Democratic Party. 

Feinstein was projected to finish first in the crowded primary Tuesday night, although her challenger was initially unclear. Republicans and Democrats compete on the same ballot and the top two vote-getters advance to the general election. Thirty-two candidates qualified for the ballot, and the second-place finisher remained undetermined as of Wednesday morning.

Feinstein secured her spot on the ballot with 44 percent of the vote, according to The Associated Press. The AP called the second place spot for de León with 11 percent of the vote and 97 percent of precincts reporting.

De León has emphasized standing up to President Donald Trump, arguing that California needs a fighter in the Senate.

“I think it’s time that we have a change and a debate on the issues, on the values, on the ideas that we as Californians care deeply about,” he told Roll Call at a recent event in Newhall, California. “We are 25 years long overdue a debate.”

But Feinstein is expected to argue that her seniority earned through those 25 years in the Senate puts her in a strong position to combat Trump and advocate for California.

Feinstein would enter a race against de León with a significant fundraising advantage, and the ability to self-fund her campaign. Feinstein’s campaign war chest is 10 times the size of de León's, with more than $7 million on hand compared to $694,000 for de León.

De León dismissed the imbalance.

“I always knew that taking on a billionaire would be tough. But the odds have always been against me,” he told Roll Call. “The youngest child of a mother with a third-grade education, I always had to work very hard … Nothing’s been given to me. But these political offices should never be an entitlement, a privilege –for the privileged.”

Feinstein’s minimum net worth is estimated at $58.5 million, according to Roll Call's Wealth of Congress project.

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