STATE Fe­in­stein to face off with op­po­nent

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By KATH­LEEN RONAYNE

SACRA­MENTO, Calif. — U.S. Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein of Cal­i­for­nia will ap­pear on­stage with a chal­lenger for the first time since 2000 when she squares off against state Sen. Kevin de Leon next week.

The two Democrats plan to ap­pear Oct. 17 in San Fran­cisco for an hour­long "con­ver­sa­tion" hosted by the Pub­lic Pol­icy In­sti­tute of Cal­i­for­nia. That's more than a week into Cal­i­for­nia's early vot­ing process.

They're fight­ing over whether it can fairly be called a de­bate.

Fe­in­stein's cam­paign calls it one, but de Leon's team said it's not truly a de­bate be­cause the can­di­dates will be en­gag­ing with the mod­er­a­tor more than each other and it will not be broad­cast in prime time. He's crit­i­cized Fe­in­stein for her years­long record of not ap­pear­ing in de­bates.

"Hard­work­ing Cal­i­for­ni­ans, peo­ple who work two, three jobs can't take off in the mid­dle of the day to turn on a livestream and watch this con­ver­sa­tion," de Leon spokesman Jonathan Un­der­land said.

Still, it's sig­nif­i­cant for the two to ap­pear on stage to­gether at all. Fe­in­stein, seek­ing her fifth full term, avoided ap­pear­ing with her lit­tle-known Repub­li­can ri­vals in 2006 and 2012 and hand­ily won both races.

She faces a fel­low Demo­crat Nov. 6 be­cause of Cal­i­for­nia's pri­mary sys­tem that sends the two can­di­dates who re­ceive the most pri­mary votes on to the gen­eral elec­tion.

De Leon is lit­tle-known statewide but has a more ro­bust po­lit­i­cal back­ground than Fe­in­stein's past two ri­vals. He led the state Se­nate from 2014 to early 2018 and spon­sored leg­is­la­tion to limit co­op­er­a­tion be­tween lo­cal law en­force­ment and fed­eral im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­i­ties as well as bills to ex­pand Cal­i­for­nia's use of clean en­ergy.

He's crafted him­self as a more lib­eral al­ter­na­tive to Fe­in­stein.

But she leads com­fort­ably in polling, is well­known to Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers and has more cash, although she hasn't run any tele­vi­sion ad­ver­tise­ments since the pri­mary.

She's been in the na­tional spot­light in re­cent weeks for her role in the con­fir­ma­tion bat­tle over Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh. Fe­in­stein is the top Demo­crat on the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. Her cam­paign touts her se­nior­ity and ex­pe­ri­ence in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., as as­sets to Cal­i­for­nia.

PPIC pres­i­dent Mark Bal­das­sare will mod­er­ate the hour­long con­ver­sa­tion. Each can­di­date will be asked an open­ing ques­tion they will get in ad­vance, but nei­ther will have ac­cess to the other ques­tions ahead of time, said PPIC spokes­woman Abby Cook.

AP FILE PHOTO BY ALEX BRAN­DON

In this Oct. 4, photo Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein, D-calif., speaks to the me­dia on Capi­tol Hill, in Wash­ing­ton.

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