So Dianne Feinstein already has a progressive challenger. That was fast! No ActBlue page up yet for Kevin de Leon (I checked). But I really do think a lot of people are overrating Feinstein’s chances with this argument:

Feinstein, 84, recently announced she’d run for reelection. But California’s unique all-party primary system could make her hard to defeat. The top two vote-getters in a primary advance to the general election, and if two Democrats advance — a real possibility — Feinstein could draw Republican votes.

Here’s the thing. The people who pushed jungle primaries made this argument. And last year, Loretta Sanchez tested it by running well to the right of Kamala Harris in the general election. She lost. Admittedly, you could argue that this was because Harris was simply a better candidate all-around, avoiding racist gaffes and such. This is true! And yet, if you can’t sell a more conservative Democrat who made a bunch of racist gaffes to Republicans in 2016, you have to ask yourself under what circumstances you ever could!

And yeah, an election with an incumbent is different from one without one, it’s off-year instead of presidential cycle, etc. But let’s keep this simple: Republicans hate Democrats. Pretty much all of them. They hate Feinstein, they hate Harris, they really hated Boxer. They most likely hate Kevin de Leon, if they’ve even heard of him. They will once they do. While we political obsessives can tease out the subtle differences between them, Republicans see Democrats as barely differentiated and all are about equally as bad to them. Now Sanchez did win Republicans in the general election, but barely, and she probably only did that well because of tactical voting by Republicans trying to throw a wrench into Harris’s rise/tweak the left. Harris won over 40% of them! That’s of the ones that did vote, of which nearly a million didn’t bother. Really, this just smacks of apathy to me. If Republicans did the sort of sophisticated philosophical evaluations that the professional centrists want them to, Feinstein would be a lock, but they won’t (and they’re not unique among voters for that). Maybe Feinstein gets a bare majority of Republicans, or maybe Republicans will split the other way and give de Leon a slight advantage to humiliate Feinstein. But this all gives me a Dick Lugar feeling, I gotta say.


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