Voters’ choice for U.S. Senate is between two Democratic candidates – incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein and state Sen. Kevin de Leon. It is a one-party choice resulting from California’s top-two primary system.
Since voters passed Proposition 14 in 2010, creating the top-two primary system, no Republican has been elected to any statewide office, including U.S. senator. Ironically, the system was brought to us by California’s last Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was able to place Proposition 14 on the ballot and worked to get it passed.
So, in a way, Republicans have themselves to blame if they do not like November’s choice for U.S. Senate. Feinstein received 44.2 percent of the statewide primary vote, followed by de Leon with 12.1. The combined tally of the 11 Republicans on the June ballot was just 33.2 percent – 11 percentage points behind Feinstein.
In Republican-dominated Bakersfield, voters may say they are being forced to pick the lesser of two evils. Some may simply not cast a ballot in the Senate race. Others may use their votes to express anger over Feinstein’s role in the bruising Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court battle.
Those conservatives will be doing themselves no favors. The choice is clear: Re-electing Feinstein is in the best interest of Kern County, California and the nation.
A 25-year Senate veteran, Feinstein is recognized for her ability and willingness to work in a collegial, bipartisan manner.
This has led some in her own party to accuse her of being too moderate, of being a DINO – Democrat in Name Only. Her willingness to work with President Trump and even support some of his programs has earned her the disdain of many California Democrats, including de Leon.
Widely viewed as an opportunistic, headline-grabbing politician, de Leon recently criticized Feinstein for her handling of a sex abuse victim’s accusations against nominee Kavanaugh. But de Leon himself was blamed for repeatedly sidetracking legislation to protect whistleblowers who attempt to bring sexual abuse and harassment complaints against state legislators.
An environmentalist who has a knack for blending climate change and blue-collar issues, de Leon has used the fossil fuel industry – spell that Kern County – as a convenient whipping boy.
But if we need any further evidence that de Leon may not serve Kern County’s best interest, consider his stated views in 2014.
As de Leon was about to take over leadership of the state Senate, he fumed in a newspaper column about spending money for California High Speed Rail in the Central Valley rather than in urban centers, declaring: “No one lives out there in the tumbleweeds.”
De Leon made matters worse a few days later when he paid an apology visit to Fresno and explained he was not referring to that city. Rather, he was referring to the area south of Fresno – you know, Bakersfield.
The more than 6.5 million people who live in the tumbleweeds of the Central Valley -- and about a million who live in just Kern County -- should remember de Leon’s dismissive words when they vote Nov. 6.
Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, no party preference, or a member of another party, know this: A veteran moderate who has a proven willingness and ability to work effectively across the aisle will best serve in these divisive times.
Feinstein was spot-on when she spoke to an audience about today's political climate last summer: “God knows this is a hard time for the country. I want to do everything I can to bring people together, past the partisan divide, so we really, as Americans, have a common purpose.”
The Californian recommends that voters return Dianne Feinstein to the U.S. Senate.