Newly-elected progressive Congressman Ro Khanna (D-CA) is calling for Democrats to present primary challengers to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who announced on Monday that she would run for a fifth term in the Senate.
Khanna, 41, who defeated incumbent Rep. Mike Honda (D-CA) in November, told Politico that despite Feinstein’s “lifetime of public service,” he does not think she is progressive enough for the likes of the left-wing of his party on issues like privacy and “Medicare for All.”
In an interview with Politico hours after Feinstein announced her decision, Khanna said he had asked Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA), one of Congress’s most liberal members, and University of California Berkeley Chancellor Robert Reich to run against Feinstein in 2018.
“She was totally out of touch when the whole debate happened on encryption,” Khanna reportedly said of Feinstein, referring to a debate between Apple and law enforcement officials in the wake of the San Bernardino terrorist massacre.
He reportedly added, “She hasn’t been a strong advocate on privacy, she hasn’t been strong on civil liberties, she hasn’t been strong in terms of standing up to our foreign policy interventions around the world.”
Khanna also described Feinstein to Politico as “hawkish.”
Feinstein is more moderate than most California Democrats.
Joseph N. Sanberg, a progressive Democrat and successful 38-year-old entrepreneur is reportedly seriously considering running against Feinstein.
According to Politico, State Senate Pro Tem Kevin de León, 50, is also being pushed by some progressives to challenge to Feinstein.
While no Republicans have officially challenged Feinstein, California Republican Party Chairman, and former State Senator Jim Brulte, released a statement on Feinstein’s announced run. “We are looking forward to a serious challenge to Dianne Feinstein as she tries to convince Californian she deserves a fifth full term in the Senate. Over half of her constituents oppose her election to the U.S. Senate; and we agree.”
Brutle was referring to a recent poll that found that less than half of registered California voters thought Feinstein should run for reelection.
However, that did little to deter her. In a Sunday interview with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd she said, “There are polls, and then there are polls.”
In that same interview, given one day before her announcement, she made it clear, “I’m ready for a good fight. I’ve got things to fight for. I’m in a position where I can be effective, and hopefully, that means something to California.”