Dianne Feinstein has earned the respect of virtually every political ally and foe she has ever encountered. She also has earned our endorsement – despite some serious concerns – for six more years in the U.S. Senate.
This should be an easy endorsement. Feinstein is a Washington institution, a voice of reason with an incredible record. Her review of the CIA’s detention and interrogation programs while sheled the Senate Intelligence Committee helped expose the use of torture after 9/11. Her work in 2007 to toughen and enforce fuel economy standards have made 50 mpg cars a reality.
Her assault weapons ban saved lives for a decade before the NRA in 2004 strong-armed Congress to end it. The Desert Protection Act she cosponsored created national parks in Joshua Tree and Death Valley, and she pushed President Barack Obama to create three new national monuments in California in 2016.
With her seniority on the Senate Appropriations Committee, billions of federal dollars have flowed into the state for transportation, water infrastructure and other projects. She has been a friend to agriculture.
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Her release of the full transcript of Senate Intelligence testimony about Christopher Steele’s investigation of candidate Trump earned “Sneaky Dianne” that most coveted of Trump Resistance bona fides – an insulting nickname.
Now, about those concerns. Feinstein will be 85 in November; if re-elected she’ll be 91 when her term ends. Those are big numbers, and they give us pause. But not enough to turn away from DiFi.
Not when she continues to speak with acuity, authority and depth on topics ranging from support of specialty crops to cannabis banks to oversight of the CIA to the talks on North Korea. Not when she appears in better shape than most of the male senators with whom she serves. Not when her most significant opponent – there are 40 from which to choose – appears to be leaning ever more leftward to attract young, doctrinaire voters.
The Democratic Party failed to endorse her at their state convention in February. Needing 60 percent of delegate votes to vanquish all challengers, she couldn’t overcome Kevin de León – the fiery Democrat who rose from the poor side of San Diego to become president pro tem of the state Senate. De León is no lightweight. He spearheaded legislation to curb greenhouse gas emissions, to extend California’s cap-and-trade system and, infamously, to make California a so-called sanctuary state by limiting local law enforcement cooperation with federal immigration agents.
He argues that Feinstein is too centrist, too willing to compromise, too out of touch. She lives, he says, “in a mansion surrounded by a wall,” and he can’t forgive her suggestion that Californians should “have patience” with President Donald Trump.
Oh, and there’s that age thing. It’s a legit point. After all, Feinstein had a pacemaker installed last year – and went back to work the next day. If her health deteriorates, she would be replaced by an appointment made by the next governor – an incredible boost.
We wish a viable conservative or Republican were on the ballot for contrast, but there isn’t. Party delegates made no endorsement at their convention, and the only GOP candidate showing up in a credible poll is avowed neo-Nazi Patrick Little, who kicked an Israeli flag as he was ejected from the GOP convention.
We don’t blame de León for challenging Feinstein; he’ll probably have until November to make his case in this top-two election. But as long as Feinstein is competent and willing, we recommend sticking with this powerful voice for California.