Obama Throws Support To Feinstein In Race Between Liberal And Centrist Dems

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Thomas Phippen Associate Editor
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Former President Barack Obama endorsed California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein Friday, even though the state party machine won’t back the veteran politician.

“I’m proud to give Dianne Feinstein my strong endorsement for her reelection to the United States Senate,” Obama said in a statement. “She’s always been an indispensable leader for California, and we became dear friends and partners in the fight to guarantee affordable healthcare and economic opportunity for everybody.”

California’s Democratic Party refused to give Feinstein the nod at a state convention in February, and her more progressive challenger, state Senate Leader Kevin de León, earned 54 percent of the delegate vote.

Under California’s “jungle primary” rules, the two candidates with the most support in the June 5 primary will go on the ballot for the midterm election in November, regardless of party affiliation.

“I ask Californians to join me in supporting Dianne Feinstein’s reelection and returning one of America’s most effective champions for progress to the Senate,” Obama said.

De León has gained support from billionaire donor Tom Steyer and labor groups, and has attacked Feinstein for voting in favor of the Iraq War and being used as a “prop” for President Donald Trump’s immigration negotiations.

“I’m not foolish enough to think you can secure deals with Donald Trump,” de León said in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, adding that he “would never let myself be used as a prop.”

Feinstein holds a commanding 25-point lead over de León in recent state-wide polls, and has the backing of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, as is common with incumbent candidates.

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