Tensions building in California Democratic Party between progressives and moderates
SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Tension is building in the California Democratic Party between progressives who are ascending and the party’s moderate wing.
That tension was on display when party members gathered in San Diego over the weekend to endorse candidates and left without endorsing anybody.
Is this tension damaging to the party? Perhaps not. We’ve seen this before and it hasn’t hurt the party.
California remains overwhelmingly blue.
To get a perspective on the party failing to endorse Dianne Feinstein — a Senate icon in California for a quarter century — KUSI spoke with Democratic Strategist Larry Remer.
“She couldn’t even get over 40 percent of the party’s delegates to endorse her. She’ll probably win in November but that’s a reflection of the tension, there’s an insurgent wing,” Remer said.
An endorsement requires 60 percent of the delegates. Remer said the party leadership is equally fractured.
“There’s the tension inside the party people have talked about between Bernie wing and the Hillary wing, that’s very real, I mean it is definitely liberals and moderates inside the party,” Remer said.
Remer said we’ve seen this division before, as recently as 2016 in the Kamala Harris Senate race to replace Barbara Boxer.
“This is an interesting year because there’s such unity against the Republicans, and the Republicans are unifying on their side,” Remer said.
The progressives on the far left are mounting a serious challenge to become the dominant force in the Democrat party.
“It’s hard to say if they’re the dominant factor. They’re clearly the loudest factor and they clearly are setting the agenda in so far as they’re saying these are issues that we’re gonna deal with,” Remer said.
Remer said unity is possible because both factions do agree on most issues. Health care, single-payer system and stiff opposition to President Trump.
“At the end of the day, they’re going to unite against whoever Trump supports,” Remer said. “If we had a Hillary presidency, the party would be in a very different situation and I think these fights would be more fractious.”
Gavin Newsom got the most votes at the convention, though all came up short.
“His speech was electrifying. The delegates were on their feet. He really nailed it,” Remer said. ” … Newsom still didn’t top 50 percent of the delegates for the endorsement, he did surprisingly well.”
It was not a good day for Antonio Villaraigosa, an accomplished candidate.
“He finished a weak third. He was not appreciated. There were boos when he spoke,” Remer said.
A party endorsement is coveted because it brings an estimated $2 million in additional fundraising.