Feinstein’s Senate Challengers Woo Democratic Activists

On the biggest stage to date in the race to replace the retiring California senator. Dianne Feinstein, top three Democratic candidates raced through their party’s convention in downtown Los Angeles this weekend, courting delegates, meeting with potential patrons, and trying to rally support early on in the unpredictable competition.

Rep. Katie Porter took selfies with fans while offering croissants, muffins and coffee. Rep. Adam B. Schiff delivered a combination of risqué humor and dad jokes during a night of stand-up. And Rep. Barbara Lee drew heavily on her long history of supporting liberal causes, even when they were unpopular and drew death threats, as her supporters nibbled on muffins, macaroons and chocolate truffles.

Very little divides the trio into politics. So to pave the way for winning the 2024 race, they need to find a way to stand out ahead of the March California primary.

“They will have to decide which segment of the Democratic electorate they want to carve out and take over,” Democratic strategist Roger Salazar said.

Lee, a longtime elected Oakland official, is likely to be strong among Bay Area and black voters, who vote more than other Democrats, according to Salazar and other Democratic strategists. Meanwhile, Burbank’s Schiff and Irvine’s Porter could split the Southern California Democrats. Porter and Lee could split the Democratic women’s vote in a state that has had two female senators for most of the past three decades. It’s not clear who has the upper hand among Hispanics, Asian Americans, and LGBTQ+ Californians.

“The pie will be messy,” Salazar said. “I don’t think anyone is going to get a clean piece.”

About 2,500 delegates, among other guests, attended the California Democratic National Convention this weekend – voters who are generally more liberal and informed about the ins and outs of the party’s politics and candidates than the majority of the electorate, said Harry South, a Democratic strategist. .

“To the average Democratic voter, these three candidates are a blur,” he said. “People who show up at state party conventions will be pretty knowledgeable.”

Yet many participants were undecided.

“I love all three,” said Burbank-based Aimee Powers, 43, who works as a project manager for a technology company. “I would really like to see a woman in this place. But Adam Schiff is also my congressman, and I really appreciate the work he has done. So it’s a difficult decision.”

Many likely California voters are undecided who they support to replace Feinstein. recent poll through Institute for Government Studies, University of California, Berkeleysponsored by the Los Angeles Times.

Republican Party Attorney Eric Early — the only prominent Republican in the race — won the support of 18% of likely voters. Three Democrats shared support among a wider range of likely voters: Porter 17%, Schiff 14% and Lee 9%. (The rest were undecided or said they planned to vote for someone else.)

Women aged 18 to 49 and residents of Orange County were more sympathetic to Porter. Schiff held power among likely voters 65 and older, as well as residents of Los Angeles County. Lee had strong support from black voters.

None of the Senate candidates has been the official speaker at the convention, the first in-person meeting of state Democrats since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

However, the candidates were the main attraction of the assembly, as they scurried through the corridors, followed by chanting and sign-waving supporters; visited caucus groups to present their position; and hosted parties and meetings.

All three candidates addressed the women’s caucus, the largest in the party’s staff, which gathered several hundred people in the hotel’s ballroom.

Schiff hailed the Women’s March the day after President Trump’s 2017 inauguration, saying it was critical to national politics.

“And you kicked that red-haired brat out of town,” he said, before mentioning former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who backed his proposal.

“I also want to thank the greatest Speaker of the House of Representatives of all time, Nancy Pelosi,” he said. “And I’m saying this not only because she’s making big endorsements, but because she’s making a great story.”

Schiff was warmly received, but the crowd roared as Porter and Lee performed. Both mentioned that their experiences as single mothers have shaped their priorities as elected officials.

“We need to shake up Washington,” Porter said. “There is no doubt that Washington caters to the desires of billionaires and corporate interests, leaving our families behind.”

“Say it, Cathy!” shouted a woman in the hall.

“I’m not afraid to change the status quo and act differently,” Porter said, adding that she has never accepted donations from corporate PACs, federal lobbyists and executives who work in “big oil, big banks or big pharma.”

Lee is best known for being the only one to vote against granting President George W. Bush broad military powers after the events of September. 11 terrorist attacks – highlighted her work in the California Legislature, forcing the Republican governor to sign into law legislation she wrote, including the California Violence Against Women Act and a bill toughening penalties for people who block access to abortion clinics.

“We are not looking back on this campaign,” Li said. “But I want you to look at what I have done as a progressive black woman, both in the Legislature and in Congress, so that you know that I will stand my ground. I have conviction and courage. And this is an indicator of what I will do in the future.”

Lee is considered an underdog in the race, in part because she doesn’t have a fundraising track record like Schiff or Porter. But she and her supporters dismiss this suggestion because of her long and consistent history.

“Barbara Lee is no stranger to this. She’s true to it,” State Comptroller Malia Cohen said at Lee’s Friday night reception, which drew hundreds of attendees. “That’s real progressive.”

It was a clear blow to Schiff, who enjoys the support of much of the Democratic establishment and is a former member of the centrist Blue Dog coalition. In January, he applied to join the Congressional Progressive Caucus, but later withdrew his application. Lee and Porter have been members of the band for some time now.

Schiff appeared to polish his progressive credentials at the convention by signing a pledge not to accept donations of more than $200 during this campaign from oil, gas, and coal industry leaders, lobbyists, and political action committees. This is the first time he has signed bail; Lee and Porter have done this before.

Schiff, best known for his work on Trump’s impeachment, said climate issues are among his top priorities because “if we don’t save our planet, none of the other things are going to matter much at the end of the day.” “.

And then, a few hours later, it changed from green to blue. A crowd of about 100 people gathered for Schiff’s “comedy performance”. The congressman’s speech lasted about 8.5 minutes and caused not only groans, but also laughter.

Schiff joked that his wife, Eva, is more conservative than he is, and recently told him that she is against same-sex marriage: “She said, ‘Adam, we’ve been married for 25 years. We’ve had the same sex for 25 years. And I just think there must be a better way.”

The official program of the congress focused mainly on pelosi celebration: Swag bags and signs were adorned with stylized images of San Francisco residents who made history by being the first woman to pick up a public speaker’s gavel. Prominent Democrats have praised her video career; she and Hollywood mega-donor Jeffrey Katzenberg were spotted dining nearby at Langer’s with a No. 19 sandwich (pastrami, swiss, coleslaw and Russian dressing) on ​​the table.

Although Pelosi has not announced whether she plans to retire before her term expires in early 2015, Feinstein has said he will not run for another term. Yet there was little mention at the convention of the 89-year-old Feinstein, a prominent figure in California politics for decades, who clashed with the party’s left wing.

On Friday, State Treasurer Fiona Ma hosted a bingo night in which the names of prominent Democrats replaced the numbers on the cards. When Feinstein’s name was called, many of those present booed.

It’s not the first time. Feinstein was bullied on the boardroom floor in 1990 when she declared her support for the death penalty during an unsuccessful run for governor. Party in 2018 supported the liberal challenger by a longtime incumbent, an embarrassing reproach.

But now things are different: Feinstein has faced serious health problems. She was not in the capital of the country for almost three months this year while she was recovering from herpes zoster, an absence that allowed Republicans to block some of President Biden’s judicial nominees. Feinstein’s recent return to Washington DCdid not subside concerns about her suitability for the job.

Long Beach’s Janet Fields said she struggled with news of Feinstein’s health issues but ultimately decided the senator should resign due to court confirmation delays for Biden’s nominations.

“I’m torn because it’s very sad,” said Fields, legislative and political co-chairman of America’s Communications Workers Chapter, Local Chapter 9588. “She’s one of the greatest. How to expel one of the greatest?