Kevin De León has done the impossible: he flipped nearly every undecided vote on the California Democratic Party executive board to win the party's endorsement in the upcoming Senate race with 65% of the vote, defeating the incumbent, far-right Democrat Dianne Feinstein, who has a long track record of backing the finance industry, war, and mass surveillance — who scored a mere 7% of the vote.
He won on a platform of renewable energy, comprehensive immigration reform, a $15 minimum wage and Medicare for all.
He defeated Feinstein despite an all-out charm offensive by the incumbent Feinstein, who, having seen the writing on the wall, asked the executive to opt for "no endorsement" — Feinstein was backed by a who's who of the Democratic establishment: Obama, Biden, Jerry Brown, and Kamala Harris. The Intercept quotes anonymous sources who allege that Feinstein offered to fundraise for executive committee members' own re-election campaigns if they voted for no endorsement (Feinstein denies this).
For weeks, Feinstein has urged "no endorsement" in the U.S. Senate race, in what her campaign described as a gesture to party unity. She bombarded delegates with phone calls, emails, and text messages in the days leading up to the vote. And she lined up a number of surrogates to make the same case, from former party chairs John Burton and Art Torres, to six House candidates running in swing districts across the state, to legendary United Farm Workers leader Dolores Huerta, who gave a puzzling interview to reporter Casey Tolan in which she said de León's presence on the ballot would create "confusion within the Latino community" and even suppress the vote.
Throughout the weekend, Feinstein and her team fought to block de León's endorsement, holding a breakfast for delegates Saturday morning and making her pitch to swing voters in one-on-one meetings. Two minutes before the vote was held, Feinstein sent an email to delegates touting her endorsements from President Obama, Vice President Biden, Governor Jerry Brown, and Senator Kamala Harris.
Kevin de León Stuns Dianne Feinstein, Wins California Democratic Party Endorsement in a Landslide [David Dayen/The Intercept]