Kavanaugh Hearing Shines Light on CA Senate Contest

Dianne FeinsteinIn any normal election cycle, the state’s race for governor would be in the spotlight for California’s voters and media. But, this is not a traditional political era we are living through, and the dramatic, emotional hearings over confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court has made California’s senators the center of the political world.

The different styles of California’s U.S. Senators were on display at the confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. Before the compromise that delayed the nomination vote for a week, California senator Kamala Harris walked out of the proceedings. Senior senator and ranking minority member Dianne Feinstein remained in her chair.

Harris’s walk out had as much to do with her presidential aspiration as it did with her objections to the committee’s direction. As the San Francisco Chronicle’s Matier & Ross reported, Harris has been busy using the Kavanaugh hearing as a tool to build lists of potential supporters around the country.

Feinstein on the other hand was the center of the Kavanaugh confirmation storm charged by Republican colleagues with engineering a strategic political hit against the nominee by holding Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s accusatory letter of sexual assault until right before a final vote on Kavanaugh. Feinstein denied any skullduggery and advocated for the ultimate compromise to bring in the FBI investigators.

Watching from across the country, California voters have the opportunity to endorse the Feinstein approach or kick her out of office with someone more in the Harris mold.

Feinstein’s opponent in the senate contest, State Senator Kevin de Leon, assuredly would have walked out of the meeting with Harris. In fact, if you listen to his rhetoric, he would not have been in the meeting at all but would have been out in the hallway with anti-Kavanaugh protestors.

De Leon’s campaign highlighted the recent PPIC poll that has him now 11 percent behind Feinstein, half of what he trailed her by in the previous poll.

One interesting aspect of the poll is that about a quarter of Republican voters queried said they did not intend to vote in this Democrat vs. Democrat contest. However, of those Republicans who did name a preference, the state senator who has put out an agenda far to the left of Feinstein actually had a small lead among Republicans.

Much of de Leon’s standing with Republicans reflects their lack of knowledge for his policies and familiarity with the long-servicing Democratic U.S. Senator.

Oddly, the turn of events in Washington could continue to help de Leon if some Republican and conservative voters who plan to sit on their hands instead of voting decide that Feinstein is culpable in the attack on Kavanaugh—especially if, in the end, he is rejected as a court nominee. Retribution could come in the form of a vote for de Leon.

On the other hand, Feinstein’s actions, if given credit by liberal voters for sinking Kavanaugh, could strengthen her hand with a segment of the Democratic Party voters.

Regardless, how this comes down, already political expectations have been turned upside down when the state’s governor’s race now playing second fiddle to the U.S. Senate contest.

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This article was originally published by Fox and Hounds Daily.