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Dianne Feinstein opponent De León, in only debate, says California needs 'new voice'

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein debated a general election opponent for the first time in nearly two decade...

Posted: Oct 18, 2018 10:45 AM
Updated: Oct 18, 2018 10:45 AM

Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein debated a general election opponent for the first time in nearly two decades on Wednesday night, with her challenger, California State Sen. Kevin de León, arguing forcefully that it was time for new leadership in Washington to spearhead the resistance against President Donald Trump.

"It's time that we stop biding our time and biting our tongue while this President unravels legislation crafted in California," De León said in his first and only face-to-face debate with Feinstein.

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"We cannot move California's progress forward if the status quo keeps resisting the resistance in the progress here in California," De León said. "I do believe it's time for a new approach. I do believe it's time for a new voice. It's time for a change."

But armed with legislative accomplishments that stretch over more than two decades, Feinstein parried back with examples of how she had used her seniority and knack for bipartisanship to produce results for California: from the assault weapons ban that she authored, to the water bill that she crafted with Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to bring more water to farmers in the Central Valley.

The discussion was a genteel denouement in this David-versus-Goliath-style contest for Feinstein's Senate seat, which she has held since she won the special election to replace Republican Pete Wilson in 1992.

Though he edged Feinstein in votes when they competed for the endorsement of the California Democratic Party, De León has struggled to raise money and boost his name recognition in a race against one of the most powerful, and independently wealthy, Democrats in the state. Most polls have shown Feinstein with a wide lead three weeks before the election.

With so much policy agreement between them, the former state Senate Leader struggled to show how his leadership in Washington would lead to demonstrably different results. His central criticism of Feinstein has been stylistic, rather than policy-based, and he repeatedly returned to his mantra that the Golden State needs a senator who will be on the "front lines, not the sidelines."

But that was about as combative as it got during the Democrat-on-Democrat matchup on Wednesday in San Francisco that was billed as a "conversation" between the two candidates.

Speaking to reporters after the debate, Feinstein laughed when asked whether she was bothered by De León's frequent allusions to her age and her long tenure in Washington.

"I recognize that every candidate is fair game and I'm not a perfect person," she said. "If I could, you know, reinstitute myself in another form I might even consider it, but I am what I am."

"I think I have something to offer the people of California and I want to offer it. I want to work for them and I want to solve problems," she added. "I'm a pretty good problem solver. If you asked me what is my strength, I would say that's my strength -- solving problems -- and that's what legislation is supposed to do."

Over the course of an hour at the Public Policy Institute of California forum, De León pointed to California's leadership on progressive priorities like combating climate change, expanding health care to immigrants and his legislation making California a "sanctuary state," as areas where he believed more work could be done in Washington.

"We cannot let the naysayers in Washington say it cannot be done," he said.

But Feinstein gently rebuked him by noting that it is "extraordinarily difficult" to get legislation passed when Republicans control both houses of Congress and the White House, which she called a "lock on power."

"If you can break that lock open, and create a majority of the opposition party, which is the Democratic Party, in one of these houses, you break that dynamic and that's what I hope will happen on this election day," she said. "If we break that dynamic, we will be able to pass really good legislation in the Senate. I really, really, do believe that. You've got this situation where you don't really have an opportunity because you don't control the agenda (and) what's on it. Sure, you can protest, and we do it, but they move their majority regardless."

"You can march; you can filibuster; you can talk all night," Feinstein said. "It doesn't change anything. What changes things are elections."

De León noted his disagreement with those remarks after the debate.

"One thing I was shocked about is how she believes that organizing and marching in the streets do nothing, and have little value," De Leòn said, adding that he was an organizer before entering politics. "I can tell you from my perspective it has a huge impact on the influence of policies, on giving folks hope and inspiration that the next day will be better."

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 255125

Reported Deaths: 5574
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto17257180
Hinds16331322
Harrison13567194
Rankin10804212
Jackson10453184
Lee8864141
Madison8314164
Jones6434112
Forrest6009120
Lauderdale5902186
Lowndes5405116
Lafayette499193
Lamar488565
Washington4803124
Bolivar3997109
Oktibbeha395381
Panola372379
Pontotoc367853
Monroe3558105
Warren354898
Union345960
Marshall344066
Neshoba3396152
Pearl River3301100
Leflore3041107
Lincoln298085
Sunflower286671
Hancock274459
Tate273162
Alcorn265453
Itawamba263759
Pike263778
Scott248046
Yazoo247056
Prentiss246552
Tippah243050
Copiah242749
Coahoma241054
Simpson236467
Leake231765
Grenada219471
Covington214672
Marion213073
Adams207070
Wayne202932
Winston201666
George199839
Attala194259
Newton193444
Tishomingo189361
Chickasaw185044
Jasper172736
Holmes168767
Clay159833
Stone144721
Tallahatchie141934
Clarke139862
Calhoun136521
Smith121424
Yalobusha117834
Walthall112336
Noxubee110822
Greene110429
Montgomery109834
Carroll104821
Lawrence102917
Perry102631
Amite98426
Webster92824
Tunica87321
Claiborne86625
Jefferson Davis85326
Humphreys83124
Benton82023
Kemper77620
Quitman6968
Franklin66715
Choctaw60913
Wilkinson58725
Jefferson54919
Sharkey43117
Issaquena1596
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 426543

Reported Deaths: 6126
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson62752920
Mobile30551554
Madison27303186
Tuscaloosa20835267
Montgomery19192305
Shelby18693114
Baldwin16513183
Lee12603101
Morgan12321113
Etowah11805168
Calhoun11206200
Marshall10236107
Houston8681148
Cullman8094105
Limestone807474
Elmore7923101
DeKalb771597
Lauderdale763183
St. Clair7599120
Talladega6224108
Walker5930174
Jackson583741
Colbert535473
Blount532083
Autauga522755
Coffee446256
Dale399781
Franklin368148
Chilton337865
Russell335910
Covington330168
Escambia321342
Dallas305196
Chambers288669
Clarke283133
Tallapoosa2630107
Pike251329
Marion247350
Lawrence245247
Winston229035
Bibb217047
Geneva203335
Marengo200829
Pickens196931
Hale177442
Barbour173836
Fayette171226
Butler170758
Cherokee160930
Henry155021
Monroe147317
Randolph141535
Washington138326
Clay127045
Crenshaw120244
Cleburne118423
Lamar118419
Macon116835
Lowndes111535
Wilcox103621
Bullock99728
Perry98219
Conecuh95120
Sumter89526
Greene76223
Coosa60515
Choctaw51524
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