California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein avoided saying Sunday if she planned to run for a fifth term in 2018, but party progressives already sprung a potential primary challenge against her.
When asked by Dana Bash on CNN’s “State of the Union” if she will mount a re-election, the 84-year-old Democrat responded, “Well, we will see, won’t we?” She added, “I’m not going to declare on CNN.”
Feinstein is the oldest member in the upper chamber and currently serves as ranking member of the Judiciary Committee. She previously served as Chairwoman of the Intelligence Committee, when Democrats held the majority. Prior to her going to Washington she served as mayor of San Francisco.
Despite Feinstein’s long political record and senior status in the chamber, progressives in California want to see someone in her seat who better aligns politically with freshman California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris, a rising star in the party.
Bay Area progressives announced Sunday afternoon they formed an organization to primary Feinstein from the left. Calling themselves “Trump-Free California,” the group called upon California State Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León to challenge Feinstein in the 2018 election and launched the website kevinspeaksforme.com to begin urging de Leon to run.
“Californians know the terrible toll the Trump administration has had on our communities,” Brandon Harami, a founding member of Trump-Free California, said in an e-mail statement. “We need bold leaders who will fight for immigrants, and for health care for all. We don’t want any more hand-picked successors or insider appointments.”
De Leon previously criticized Feinstein for saying that Trump could be a “a good president” back in August during a discussion at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco.
Her comments received boos from the audience and Feinstein found herself clarifying what she said the following day.
“The duty of the American president is to bring people together, not cater to one segment of a political base; to solve problems, not campaign constantly. While I’m under no illusion that it’s likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies, I want President Trump to change for the good of the country,” she said.
De Leon, however, hit back saying in a statement of his own, according to San Francisco’s KQED public radio, “It is the responsibility of Congress to hold him accountable — especially Democrats, not be complicit in his reckless behavior.”