This race could be her hard­est

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - seema.mehta@la­ Twit­ter: @LATSeema

be­come home base for “the re­sis­tance” against Trump’s agenda. Mean­while, the na­tion’s cap­i­tal is gripped by po­lar­iza­tion and grid­lock. The abil­ity to work across party lines to solve the na­tion’s prob­lems — a skill Fe­in­stein has long prided her­self on — seems less com­mon ev­ery day.

Pro­test­ers have dogged Fe­in­stein all year, speak­ing out about her op­po­si­tion to sin­gle-payer health­care, her call for “pa­tience” with Trump’s pres­i­dency and her bi­par­ti­san ef­forts. Out­side her fundraiser Tues­day, a demon­stra­tor held a sign that read “Re­tire Dianne the DINO,” or Demo­crat in Name Only, a twist on an in­sult that Repub­li­cans usu­ally hurl at oth­ers in the GOP who are deemed to lack solidly con­ser­va­tive cre­den­tials.

One fresh­man Cal­i­for­nia con­gress­man and fel­low Demo­crat went fur­ther: He called for a pri­mary chal­lenge.

“On the big is­sues of our time, she’s been on the wrong side of his­tory,” Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Fre­mont) said Tues­day on Sir­iusXM’s “The Dean Obei­dal­lah Show,” cit­ing Fe­in­stein’s vote for the Iraq war and sup­port for the Pa­triot Act.

But on most is­sues, the Cal­i­for­nia sen­a­tor has voted with her party, though her record is not as lib­eral as those of Sens. El­iz­a­beth War­ren of Mas­sachusetts or Bernie San­ders of Ver­mont.

Rep. Bar­bara Lee, an Oak­land con­gress­woman whom Khanna urged to run, quickly said she had no plans to chal­lenge Fe­in­stein.

There al­ready are sev­eral long-shot can­di­dates run­ning against Fe­in­stein. Cal­i­for­nia po­lit­i­cal watch­ers are wait­ing to see what De León in par­tic­u­lar de­cides to do, given his in­ter­est in the job and need for a next step as his time in the state Se­nate ends be­cause of term lim­its. De León has not ruled out a pri­mary chal­lenge to Fe­in­stein and is one of the few high-rank­ing Democrats in the state who have not com­mented on her re­elec­tion cam­paign.

Steyer, a ma­jor Demo­cratic donor, in­serted him­self into the spec­u­la­tion on Tues­day when he sent a let­ter to the Demo­cratic Con­gres­sional Cam­paign Com­mit­tee say­ing that can­di­dates must sup­port Trump’s im­peach­ment. He added that now is “not a time for ‘pa­tience.’ ”

“It is clear for all to see that there is zero rea­son to be­lieve ‘he can be a good pres­i­dent,’ ” he wrote, high­light­ing state­ments Fe­in­stein made in Au­gust that caused a fiery back­lash from pro­gres­sives.

Any chal­lenger would face sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cles go­ing af­ter some­one with such a sto­ried ca­reer and deep ties to the state. Mo­ments af­ter Fe­in­stein an­nounced her 2018 cam­paign, Har­ris emailed her sup­port­ers seek­ing to raise money for Fe­in­stein.

“Since join­ing the Se­nate in Jan­uary, I have found few bet­ter al­lies in our fight to stop the rad­i­cal agenda of Don­ald Trump than Dianne. She’s joined with us in ev­ery ma­jor fight,” Har­ris wrote.

The next day, the United Farm Work­ers an­nounced its en­dorse­ment of Fe­in­stein, the first in a long list of la­bor groups likely to sup­port Cal­i­for­nia’s se­nior sen­a­tor. That evening, Hol­ly­wood stu­dio ex­ec­u­tives and phi­lan­thropists raised money for Fe­in­stein’s cam­paign, with guests spend­ing up to $5,400 to at­tend a pool­side re­cep­tion at a Beverly Hills man­sion hosted by Garcetti and Hol­ly­wood power play­ers in­clud­ing Michael Eis­ner and Sherry Lans­ing.

As Garcetti in­tro­duced Fe­in­stein, he warned the crowd that any pri­mary chal­lenge would be a grave mis­take.

It would be “wrong for Democrats and what Cal­i­for­nia should be do­ing right now,” Garcetti said, tick­ing off Trump poli­cies that the state needed to fight. “We have a lot of work to do.”

In River­side on Wed­nes­day, Fe­in­stein em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of se­nior­ity. She talked about push­ing the bump-stock leg­is­la­tion she in­tro­duced in the Se­nate in the after­math of the mass shoot­ing in Las Ve­gas. She demon­strated her flu­ency in is­sues over­seas (the Iran nu­clear deal) and lo­cal (the run­way re­quire­ments for large cargo air­craft to land at nearby March Air Force Base).

And she looked back fondly to the ways of Wash­ing­ton when she first joined the Se­nate, re­call­ing bi­par­ti­san groups go­ing to a sen­a­tor’s per­sonal re­treat to dis­cuss health­care pol­icy.

“It was con­ge­nial. We lis­tened to one an­other. You’d be sur­prised how much peo­ple of your op­po­site party know, and if you re­ally are able to talk to them [and] have an open mind, who knows what you can come up with,” Fe­in­stein said, later adding that was her goal for her re­main­ing time in the Se­nate.

“God knows this is a hard time for the coun­try. I want to do ev­ery­thing I can to bring peo­ple to­gether, past the par­ti­san di­vide, so we re­ally as Amer­i­cans have a com­mon pur­pose.”

J. Scott Ap­ple­white As­so­ci­ated Press

ANY CHAL­LENGER to Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein (D-Calif.) would face sig­nif­i­cant ob­sta­cles go­ing af­ter some­one with such a sto­ried ca­reer.

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