California’s Senate election may be an indicator of the future direction of the Democratic party.
Despite backing other Democrats in primaries this election season, former presidential candidate and progressive icon Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told The Hill he won’t be supporting Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., choosing instead to stay out of the race.
“It’s an issue for the people of California,” Sanders said. The Hill asked the Senator if that meant he would not choose sides in the primary, to which he responded, “Yeah.”
Sanders has become involved in other primaries, including Illinois, where he endorsed liberal Marie Newman’s primary challenge against incumbent Rep. Daniel Lipinski, D-Ill.
Feinstein faces a heated primary opponent in Kevin de Leon, the President pro tempore of the California state Senate.
Last month, the four-term senator failed to win an endorsement from the California Democratic Party after winning only 37 percent of the party convention’s delegate votes, compared to de Leon’s 54 percent.
Neither candidate reached the 60 percent of votes necessary to win the endorsement.
“California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines,” de Leon said in a statement after the convention.
While the 51-year-old state senator has not received an endorsement from Sanders, he has benefited from the backing of the Vermont progressive’s supporters, who are drawn to de Leon’s support for policies like universal healthcare.
Sanders and Feinstein never enjoyed a close political relationship. During the 2016 presidential primaries, the California Democrat fervently supported Hillary Clinton. At one point, Feinstein urged Sanders to drop out of the race.
“He ought to be able to read the signposts as well as anybody else, and if he did that, he would know that it’s all over” she said in May 2016, according to the Hill.
Feinstein is considered one of the more centrist members of her party. An analysis by FiveThirtyEight found that the senator voted in line with President Trump’s agenda nearly 28 percent of the time–higher than others members of the Democratic caucus.
Additionally, she has voted in favor of giving intelligence agencies greater power to perform surveillance on suspected terrorists.
Feinstein is one of 33 senators whose seat is being contested in November–10 of them Democrat seats in states Trump won in 2016.