And now for something that does not contain the word “Comey.” Oh, wait. It just did.
Senate Democrats are in a large national hole in 2018. This year 34 of the Senate’s 100 seats have races. Republicans are only defending eight. Democrats must defend 26, 10 of them in states captured by President Trump during his 2016 upset victory that Hillary Clinton is still talking about to any available audience.
One of those Democratic seats is held by California’s senior senator, Dianne Feinstein, a thrice-married, former San Francisco mayor who’s been in the Senate since the first President Bush signed NAFTA, Hurricane Andrew smashed into Florida and John Gotti got life.
Like many congressional Democrats Feinstein is old. She makes fellow San Franciscan 77-year-old Nancy Pelosi look like a kid. Feinstein was born right after Adolph Hitler became German Chancellor and Franklin Delano Roosevelt became president.
She’ll be 85 in June.
Like so many in Congress, especially older members, she wants another term, her fifth. It’s a comfortable place and, despite its paltry $174,000 salary, Feinstein has somehow become a multi-millionaire.
She was set to be Walter Mondale’s running mate in the Reagan blowout reelect of 1984. But some of her husband’s business dealings seemed too shady for a national campaign. So Mondale went with Geraldine Ferraro, whose family turned out to have its own challenges with shadows.
Last winter when Kevin De Leon, California’s term-limited Senate president, launched his primary challenge to Feinstein from the left, it appeared to presage that now familiar divisive progressive/liberal party split of Clinton and Bernie Sanders, another old-timer.
De Leon successfully denied Feinstein the state party’s endorsement, which was shocking, and raked in some valuable endorsements from unions dissatisfied that Feinstein’s anti-Trump fervor isn’t maniacal.
However, that’s about all De Leon has raked in. Progressives have yet to put their money where his mouth is. Feinstein now has $10.4 million in her campaign bank account, including five mill of her own money. De Leon has $672,000.
That should be crippling to a challenger in California’s multiple expensive media markets. And it no doubt will be. However, California’s top-two primary system gives him two shots at her.
Under that system, designed to double-team Republicans in the heavily Democratic state, Feinstein and De Leon face off in the state’s June 5 Democratic primary. Since modern-day California Republicans know better, they’re not mounting a viable candidate. Which means Feinstein and De Leon will finish 1-2 and face off again on Nov. 6.
A De Leon spokeswoman noted that he “isn’t running to out-raise or outspend his opponent, who happens to be one of the wealthiest members of Congress. He’s running because the status quo in Washington, D.C. isn’t advocating on behalf of everyday Californians, and that needs to change.”
But not likely yet.