U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein failed to win the official endorsement of the California Democratic Party as she seeks her fifth term, another sign that the party is divided over how best to battle Republicans in Washington.
It's the first time Feinstein has failed to win the party's backing since 1994, when she won her first full-term to the U.S. Senate, though she's lacked a credible Democratic challenger in most previous races.
Democratic activists were more eager to back her primary challenger, state Senate leader Kevin de Leon, who is touting himself as a fresh face with stronger progressive credentials, particularly on immigration.
However, he too failed to earn the 60 percent support needed to win the endorsement Saturday at Democrats' annual convention. That means neither candidate will get the party's seal of approval or extra campaign cash leading into the June primary.
Delegates who withheld their support said they think Feinstein, 84, has been in Washington too long and hasn't stood strong enough for immigrants.
When she spoke longer than her allotted time, some in the crowd chanted "Time's up!" — referring to her lengthy tenure in Congress. Thirty-seven percent of Democrats backed Feinstein, while 54 percent supported de Leon. He called it "an astounding rejection of politics as usual" and a boost to his campaign's momentum.
Feinstein supporters, meanwhile, said her long track record as a fighter for Democrats and women makes her the party's best choice. "She has so much seniority, it's hard to give that up," said Cathy Jorgensen, a delegate from the farm-rich Central Valley.
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