California State Senator to Enter U.S. Senate Race Against Feinstein

Sen. Dianne Feinstein / Getty Images


Another potential primary challenger to Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) is signaling his intent to enter the race for the Senate seat she has held since 1992.

California State Senate Leader Kevin de León, a Democrat, will throw his hat into the ring to challenge Feinstein in the 2018 race, according to three sources who spoke to CNN. The 84-year-old senator announced Monday that she would run for reelection, causing consternation on the progressive left even as she tried to get out ahead of de León.

In the state senate, de León represents Los Angeles and has helped pass measures directed at President Donald Trump, positioning himself as one of the president’s fiercest critics. The California state legislature has opposed Trump’s agenda by becoming a so-called sanctuary state, as well as trying to force him to release his tax returns and even passing a resolution calling for him to apologize for "racist and bigoted behavior."

Feinstein, however, took criticism from the left in August for expressing the hope that Trump would change to be more cooperative with Democrats.

"I just hope he has the ability to learn and to change, and if he does, he can be a good president," she said, receiving boos from the San Francisco audience.

She later said she is "under no illusion that it's likely to happen and will continue to oppose his policies."

De León will likely be one of multiple contenders for Feinstein’s seat. A source said Democratic mega-donor and environmentalist Tom Steyer is "very much looking at the Senate race," and in a letter Wednesday he also called on Democrats to impeach Trump.

"This is no time for ‘patience' — Donald Trump is not fit for office. It is clear for all to see that there is zero reason to believe ‘he can be a good president,'" Steyer wrote, referring to Feinstein's previous comments.

Feinstein has supported some Republican initiatives such as tax cuts under former president George W. Bush, and Vox Media co-founder Markos Moulitsas called her "the most pro-Trump Blue-state Dem in the country." He also expressed interest in de León's candidacy.

California has a primary in which the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, face off in the general election. The primary will be held on June 5, 2018.

Paul Crookston

Paul Crookston   Email Paul | Full Bio | RSS
Paul Crookston is a media analyst with the Washington Free Beacon. He was previously a Collegiate Network fellow at National Review. A 2016 graduate of Gordon College in Wenham, Mass., he served as the managing editor of the Tartan campus newspaper. He is originally from Tampa, Fla., but he still roots for Dad’s Ohio teams. His Twitter handle is @P_Crookston. He can be reached at

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