Fe­in­stein re­turns to Se­nate for an­other term

Porterville Recorder - - FRONT PAGE - By KATH­LEEN RONAYNE

LOS AN­GE­LES — U.S. Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein won re-elec­tion Tues­day to the seat she has rep­re­sented for more than a quar­ter cen­tury, demon­strat­ing her might in Cal­i­for­nia Demo­cratic pol­i­tics even as she faced a chal­lenge from her left.

She called for a re­turn to more bi­par­ti­san and civil pol­i­tics as she high­lighted her pi­o­neer­ing role as one of the first women in the U.S. Se­nate and as a mem­ber of the pow­er­ful Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee, where she is now the top Demo­crat.

"This is such a great coun­try and it's been fac­tion­al­ized and it's been triv­i­al­ized with rhetoric," she said to sup­port­ers in San Fran­cisco. "We must stop that."

Fe­in­stein's ri­val, state Sen. Kevin de Leon, had called for a more aggressive style of rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Even un­der Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, Fe­in­stein has shown her pref­er­ence for deco­rum over bomb-throw­ing, pre­fer­ring to work across the aisle when she can.

Per­haps re­flect­ing her com­fort in the face of de Leon's chal­lenge, Fe­in­stein told re­porters after an Oc­to­ber de­bate she con­sid­ered her­self at the cen­ter of the po­lit­i­cal spec­trum and hoped Repub­li­can vot­ers would give her a chance.

At 85, Fe­in­stein is the old­est U.S. se­na­tor. De Leon, 51, never di­rectly made Fe­in­stein's age an is­sue but fre­quently ref­er­enced the need for a "new voice."

Speak­ing to his sup­port­ers in Los An­ge­les Tues­day night, he said the cam­paign of­fered a choice be­tween "new ideas and the same old, same old" and "pro­gres­sivism and priv­i­lege."

Still, it was Fe­in­stein's mes­sage of proven ex­pe­ri­ence and com­pe­tence that won over Cal­i­for­nia vot­ers in deep-blue Cal­i­for­nia. She held 54 per­cent of the vote with 4.6 mil­lion counted.

With no Repub­li­can in the race, many vot­ers sim­ply took a pass at the con­test. At least half a mil­lion peo­ple who voted in the gover­nor's race did not cast bal­lots for U.S. Se­nate.

Fe­in­stein was first elected to the Se­nate in 1992 after serv­ing as San Fran­cisco's first woman mayor.

Un­like other chal­lenges to in­cum­bents from the left, de Leon's bid against Fe­in­stein failed to gen­er­ate much at­ten­tion and en­ergy, per­haps be­cause the seat was a lock for Democrats re­gard­less. Cal­i­for­nia's pri­mary sys­tem al­lows two mem­bers of the same party to face off in a general elec­tion, and Repub­li­cans fielded no se­ri­ous can­di­dates.

It was Cal­i­for­nia's se­cond U.S. Se­nate con­test in which two Democrats faced off. U.S. Sen. Ka­mala Har­ris de­feated U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez for Cal­i­for­nia's other seat in 2016.

Even though de Leon crit­i­cized Fe­in­stein for be­ing too soft against Trump, she drew the pres­i­dent's ire this fall dur­ing the fiery con­fir­ma­tion battle over Supreme Court Jus­tice Brett Ka­vanaugh. A Cal­i­for­nia woman, Chris­tine Blasey Ford, sent Fe­in­stein a let­ter dur­ing the sum­mer ac­cus­ing Ka­vanaugh of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing her in high school, which he de­nies.

Fe­in­stein kept the let­ter con­fi­den­tial for weeks but later turned it over to the FBI. Trump and Repub­li­cans ac­cused her of leak­ing the let­ter to the press in an at­tempt to de­rail Ka­vanaugh's con­fir­ma­tion.

Trump sup­port­ers even chanted "lock her up!" about Fe­in­stein dur­ing a rally. Fe­in­stein de­nies leak­ing the let­ter and has de­fended her han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion.

With Repub­li­cans main­tain­ing con­trol of the U.S. Se­nate on Tues­day night, Fe­in­stein will re­main mi­nor­ity leader of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee. Dur­ing the cam­paign, she lamented the chal­lenges of op­er­at­ing in Wash­ing­ton in the mi­nor­ity party. When de Leon called for a stronger re­sis­tance, Fe­in­stein de­clared that march­ing and protest­ing only goes so far.

AP PHOTO BY JEFF CHIU

U.S. Sen. Dianne Fe­in­stein speaks at an elec­tion night event in San Fran­cisco, Tues­day, Nov. 6.

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