Not long after announcing her plans to seek re-election in 2018, Dianne Feinstein was the subject of comments from progressive House freshman Ro Khanna who urged potential challengers to throw their hats in the ring to unseat the four-term Senate stalwart. Suggesting that the time has come for Democrats to focus on representing the more progressive arm of the party, Khanna has mentioned Rep. Barbara Lee and former Labor Secretary Robert Reich as particularly appealing candidates.
Close on the heels of Feinstein’s Twitter announcement of her intention to run for a fifth full term in the Senate was Khanna’s declaration that although he certainly respects her legacy of service, he feels it is time to elect someone closer connected to the interests and priorities of grassroots Democrats. Key among his criticisms of Feinstein were her lack of advocacy on privacy issues and civil liberties and her failure to oppose major military interventions across the globe. Most importantly in Khanna’s estimation, however, is the fact that she has voiced opposition toward the ‘Medicare for All’ philosophy he fully embraces.
Khanna does, however, continue to support Representative Nancy Pelosi, citing her history of aggressively pursuing progressive ideals as House Minority Leader. Reclaiming control of the House, according to Khanna, must be the party’s focus, especially targeting the seven California races in which seats are presently occupied by beatable Republicans. According to Khanna, Pelosi has the right positions on foreign policy matters and economic concerns and will protect Silicon Valley’s interests more effectively than Feinstein has been able to do.
Having just defeated long-term Representative Mike Honda in 2016, Khanna has indicated that he does not wish to run against Feinstein himself. Rather he hopes to remain in the House of Representatives while working to elect a truly progressive voice who can bring the principled advocacy required to achieve the goal of single-payer healthcare, among other objectives. Khanna admits that raising sufficient funds to topple Feinstein could prove difficult, but that online fundraising on a national level could perhaps make up the difference if an especially captivating progressive candidate comes to the forefront.
It is worth noting that rising party star Senator Kamala Harris, a staunch supporter of a number of progressive initiatives including the “Medicare for All” push, has reiterated her support for the re-election of Ms. Feinstein. She has gone so far as to state that she backs the Feinstein campaign completely and hopes that Democrats on a large scale will begin donating to her campaign coffers.
Whether or not a strong progressive candidate steps forward to mount a primary challenge to Senator Feinstein remains to be seen. The one thing that appears certain is that Ro Khanna is determined to make his voice heard in hopes of furthering the progressive ideals he and many of his own constituents hold dear.