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Feinstein Decides Not to Seek California Democratic Party Endorsement

Pushing unity, senator calls for no formal endorsement by state party post-primary

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will face fellow Democrat Kevin de Léon in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., will face fellow Democrat Kevin de Léon in November. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

California Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein has decided not to seek her state party’s endorsement, calling for party unity ahead of the November election. 

Feinstein and state Sen. Kevin de Léon, a fellow Democrat, advanced to the general election after finishing first and second respectively in the state’s top-two primary last month. The four-term incumbent wrote an email Tuesday addressed to the party’s executive board members — that also appeared to also be sent to her campaign fundraising list — calling for no formal endorsement. For the first time in nearly 30 years, Feinstein did not win the party’s backing prior to the June 5 primary.

“Republicans would like nothing more than to see Democrats fighting each other, and a formal endorsement in our race will divide our party at the exact time we need to come together and focus on the general election,” she wrote. “You can help prevent that by voting no endorsement.”

California Democratic Party leaders will meet July 13-15 for their executive board meeting in Oakland, where they are expected to determine if the party will make a post-primary endorsement.

Feinstein is still on the party endorsement ballot, according a memo circulated to party officials Tuesday and obtained by Roll Call. The state party conducted a drawing to determine the ballot order for the endorsement, with Feinstein’s name appearing first ahead of de Léon’s. The ballot will also include the option not to endorse either candidate. 

State party chairman Eric Bauman requested that Democratic candidates not seek the party’s backing if two Democrats advanced to the general election, according to a party memo about the post-primary endorsement process.

De León is still seeking the party’s endorsement, according to his campaign.

“Over the years Sen. de León has built a strong relationship with members of the Democratic Party and I know he would be honored to receive their endorsement at the executive board meeting this month,” de León spokesman Jonathan Underland said.

Feinstein topped a crowded 32-candidate primary field on June 5, winning 44 percent, or 2.9 million votes. De León finished behind her with 12 percent, or 804,000 votes. 

The incumbent has a sizable financial advantage in the race. She ended the pre-primary reporting period on May 16 with more than $7 million in the bank, to $694,000 for de León.

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Niels Lesniewski contributed to this report.

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