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

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Confirmed Cases: 27900

Reported Deaths: 1082
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds215239
DeSoto137316
Madison122234
Jones106949
Neshoba96069
Lauderdale88278
Rankin84112
Forrest81442
Scott75015
Harrison7448
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Wayne52112
Washington4969
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Lamar4197
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Monroe36729
Pike36712
Attala35223
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Newton3289
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Tate2577
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Marion24811
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Noxubee2458
Pearl River24432
Winston2435
Clay24210
Claiborne23610
Simpson2303
Smith20611
Clarke20124
Marshall2013
Coahoma1866
Kemper17614
Union1759
Walthall1724
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Carroll16011
Lawrence1591
Itawamba1278
Calhoun1244
Humphreys1239
Tippah12311
Webster12310
Montgomery1222
Hancock12013
Jefferson Davis1064
Tallahatchie1043
Prentiss983
Greene927
Jefferson923
Wilkinson919
Tunica893
Amite822
George743
Choctaw714
Quitman680
Tishomingo681
Perry614
Alcorn561
Stone521
Franklin382
Benton270
Sharkey240
Issaquena71
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 38442

Reported Deaths: 947
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson4387142
Montgomery383999
Mobile3697134
Tuscaloosa204938
Marshall153710
Lee118937
Shelby108223
Madison10577
Morgan9813
Walker86723
Franklin85213
Dallas8198
Elmore81314
Baldwin6869
Etowah62513
Butler60427
DeKalb6025
Chambers58127
Tallapoosa56369
Autauga54511
Unassigned52025
Russell4840
Lowndes45820
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Houston4344
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Colbert3685
Bullock3629
Coffee3532
Barbour3231
Covington3087
St. Clair3042
Hale29321
Marengo28611
Wilcox2808
Sumter27612
Calhoun2705
Talladega2677
Clarke2665
Escambia2636
Dale2440
Jackson2382
Winston2333
Blount2141
Chilton2112
Pickens2116
Marion20312
Monroe1972
Choctaw19212
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Randolph1709
Greene1667
Perry1451
Henry1303
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Washington1007
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Clay582
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