- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2018

Former President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein for re-election to her California seat, giving the veteran legislator another dose of big-name support as she tries to fend off an upstart challenger from her left.

Mr. Obama, who served with Ms. Feinstein in the Senate from 2005 to 2008 before taking the White House, said Ms. Feinstein has been one of the “most effective champions for progress” in the august body.

“She’s always been an indispensable leader for California, and we became dear friends and partners in the fight to guarantee affordable health care and economic opportunity for everybody; to protect our planet from climate change, and our kids from gun violence,” Mr. Obama said in a statement through the Feinstein campaign.

Mrs. Feinstein, who will turn 85 in June, wields instant name recognition and a sizable campaign war chest in her push to extend a 25-year career on Capitol Hill this November.

Yet a slice of her own party seems to be drifting away from her and toward California state Sen. Kevin de Leon, who has picked up key endorsements from members of Congress, top labor unions and billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer.

California uses a jungle primary system that lets the top two finishers vie in the general election, regardless of party.

Republicans don’t appear to have a strong enough receipt to exploit the Feinstein-de Leon split that took center-stage at the California Democrats’ convention in February, when Mr. de Leon received 54 percent of delegates’ votes on Sunday, compared to 37 percent for Ms. Feinstein.

Still, Ms. Feinstein and Mr. de Leon are jockeying for position, touting their legislative bona fides and most prominent endorsements.

Ms. Feinstein on Friday noted she’s been endorsed by former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., California Gov. Jerry Brown, Sen. Kamala Harris, former Sen. Barbara Boxer, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and 24 other members of Congress.

Less than an hour after Mr. Obama joined that list, Mr. de Leon fired back by highlighting an endorsement from La Opinion, a Spanish-language newspaper published in Los Angeles.

“We believe that Kevin de León, more so than Feinstein, is capable of waking up our youth and energizing Latinos to take part in the process that determines their lives,” La Opinión said. “We believe de León’s trajectory has prepared him to serve in the United States Senate, where he would be the right person at this moment in history.”

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