Khanna floats Lee for U.S. Senate: A look at the political earthquake that would hit the East Bay

Before Rep. Ro Khanna dropped fellow Alameda County Rep. Barbara Lee‘s name today as a possible progressive challenge to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who announced Monday that she is running for re-election next year, the idea of such a run was mostly the dreams of her uber progressive constituents in the East Bay.

In fact, on several occasions over the past few months, Lee has been asked (other times begged) during town halls whether she would run for U.S. Senate. In each case she did not answer and laughed off the suggestion.

At the moment, there’s not much to suggest Lee would take up Khanna’s recruitment. Though, it begs the question as to why Khanna would make this type of off-hand remark if it had not been cleared by Lee. Khanna also said he urged Robert Reich to run for U.S. Senate, in comments made to Politico’s Carla Marinucci today. In addition, there’s much to unpack as it pertains to the East Bay by Feinstein’s announcement and the response it could foment.

Let’s start with Khanna. It’s disingenuous of him to highlight Feinstein’s entrenched status and diminishing progressive appeal when he publicly back House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi earlier this spring, who is also under fire for essentially having the entire progressive movement blow past her.

Meanwhile, it’s somewhat telling Khanna floated Lee’s name, but did not mention neighboring Rep. Eric Swalwell, who is already on the short list of potential challengers for Feinstein’s seat. Does that suggest that Swalwell is not progressive? Or does Khanna just figure Swalwell is going to president? Is there some sort of enmity there? If not, there certainly should be, since any success Swalwell achieves will certainly come at Khanna’s expense, or, at least, block the same path toward higher office Khanna may one day seek. In a statement, Swalwell side-stepped a question about whether he would challenge Feinstein, saying he is focused on constituents in his district and the on-going Russia investigation. That means, probably yes, I’m running.

But the real consequence of Khanna mentioning Lee’s name today is the great potential its would have in totally scrambling the political landscape in the East Bay. Recall, a similar round of musical chairs in 1997-1998 that was set off by Ron Dellums‘ retirement from Congress and resulting in Lee taking over his seat. What happened next was a cascading number of special elections, five in total over the next two years, that reshaped the East Bay’s roster of officeholders for a generation.

If you bust out a crystal ball, you can easily see Lee’s departure opening up seats from the 18th Assembly District held by Rob Bonta. the Oakland mayor’s office to the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. The ripple effect would open up second-tier candidates in Oakland, San Leandro, Alameda running for the assembly, possibly Oakland City Council seats and the Board of Supervisors. Further down the ballot, there are a vast number of seats that could suddenly open, probably too many to comprehend.

However, even if Lee stays put, this hurricane of political change could instead touchdown just to the south of Oakland. If Swalwell, instead, runs for Feinstein’s seat next year it would create a similar musical chairs in Hayward, Fremont, and the Tri-Valley.

BARBARA LEE runs -> Assemblymember ROB BONTA, Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, Alameda County Supervisor run for Congress.
1) If BONTA won, Oakland Couniclmembers ABEL GUILLEN, LYNETTE GIBSON MCELHANEY, run for Assembly. So does Alameda Councilmember Jim Oddie, among others. A win by any in this group would trigger special elections in their respective cities. So on and so forth….

2) If SCHAAF won, it’s conceivable every single current members of the Oakland City Council would run to finish her term. The list of candidates could be more than a dozen, similar to 2014. A special election win by any member of the Oakland City Council would then trigger a special election for that district seat. So on and so forth…

3) If CARSON won, a number of Berkeley councilmembers could jump for his seat, as could MCELHANEY, along with Emeryville Mayor Dianne Martinez. Once again, this would trigger special elections down the line. So on and so forth.

ERIC SWALWELL runs -> Alameda County Supervisor SCOTT HAGGERTY, State Sen. BOB WIECKOWSKI, former Dublin Mayor TIM SBRANTI, former State Sen. ELLEN CORBETT, and Assemblymember CATHARINE BAKER  run for Congress.

1) If HAGGERTY won, it potentially opens the Board of Supervisors to welcoming a Tri Valley Republican or a moderate from the Fremont area, maybe Mayor LILY MEI and trigger a free-for-all on the City Council vying for finish her term. So on and so forth…

2) If WIECKOWSKI won, many of the same Fremonters would seek to replace him in the state Senate and possibly Assemlymember BILL QUIRK, or someone from the Hayward City Council. The most obvious being Councilmember AL MENDALL, maybe MARK SALINAS, who has shown an interest in higher office. Also, keep in mind the 10th State Senate District also seeps into Santa Clara County. So on and so forth.

3) If SBRANTI or CORBETT won, the aftermath would be, by far, the least messy. Sbranti currently works for Swalwell, so his elevation to Congress would trigger no other moves. Corbett currently serves on the East Bay Regional Parks District board, her long jump to D.C. would require a replacement, but someone unlikely to shake up the political landscape.

4) If BAKER won, first off, it would represent a massive political earthquake in the true blue East Bay, but not entirely impossible since the Tri Valley, which she already represents is moderate to conservative and the Fremont/Tri-Cities area is hinting it could one day become purple. Her replacement, though, would present new possibilities for a group of elected officials in the Tri Valley and Contra Costa County.

9 thoughts on “Khanna floats Lee for U.S. Senate: A look at the political earthquake that would hit the East Bay

  1. By MW:

    In addition to such people as Rho Khanna and Kevin de Leon who have openly made it obvious that they think it is time for Feinstein, and who is already eighty-four years old, to retire, I think there are also a lot more higher ranking people who feel the same way, but for now are being much more subtle about it. (If Feinstein does serve another term, at the end of that term she would be approx ninety-one years old.)

    For instance in the last few days I was watching one of the Bay area's major news channels, and while discussing possible challengers FROM OTHER DEMOCRATS to Feinstein, it showed a recent news clip of her speaking, AND SHE LOOKED TIRED, VERY OLD, AND EXTREMELY WORN OUT, so I would assume there are some in the mainstream liberal news media who also want her to retire.

    Since it is hard to imagine that anybody in favor of Feinstein would show a closeup of her, in that she looks horrible. In other words in the last few years she has not begun to look only a few years older, but instead about twenty years older.


  2. By MW:

    Today, Sunday, October 15, 2917, prominent California Democrat Kevin de Leon, and who is the president of the State Senate, announced he will be challenging Dianne Feinstein in her bid to win re-election to the seat in the US Senate she has held for decades.

    Feinstein will not be able to laugh at and ignore this particular challenge the way she has in the past usually ignored challengers.

    First of all, de Leon is a political heavyweight, and unlike most of Feinstein's past challengers who were small, weak, virtually unknown, and also having had almost no fundraising power.

    Second, his base is in Southern California, specifically Los Angeles, and if he stays in the race it will probably be far more than just Feinstein versus de Leon, but also Southern California versus Northern California, and especially Southern California versus San Francisco. And in recent years the big boys of Southern California Democratic Party politics have had much more of an attitude that they want their own people in the highest ranking positions, and rather than just letting Northern California, and especially San Francisco and the Bay area, have virtually everything of consequence. And since Southern California has drastically more population than Northern California, if SC is tough and smart about it, it does not have to continue to let NC continue to dominate it and push it around.

    And if de Leon and/or any Los Angeles area person desires to run a campaign that is largely against SF and/or the Bay area, Feinstein would be the absolutely perfect object of such a campaign. Since I seriously doubt there is even one prominent person in the entire country who is as much of a San Francisco person as Feinstein. She was born and raised in SF, went to high school in SF, went to college in the SF area, specifically Stanford, then got a job with the SF DA's office, married anther employee of the SF DA's office (Jack Berman), later became a member of the SF Board of Supervisors, and then became SF's mayor.

    Other than her time in Washington DC, she has spent virtually all of her life in Scams FraudsFIXso. In fact, I believe even her daughter and grandchildren live in SF. (Her daughter even spent a number of years as a judge on SF Superior Court.)

    Third, she is starting to look like she is tired and worn out, and combined with the fact that she is in her eighties, that will make people wonder whether she might also be getting senile.

    I hope she and de Leon have a long drawn out fight, in that the real winner in that would be the Republican Party, since the general public would then learn a lot more about what the Demagogue Party really “stands for” and actually believes in.


  3. And if Tom Steyer runs, all of this mental masturbation, Berkeley navel-gazing bullshit is meaningless.


  4. By MW:

    Related to the post of 7:36AM:

    While it is quite likely true that Khanna is much more frightened of the possible fallout that could result from antagonizing Pelosi than from antagonizing Feinstein, however since it is only San Francisco residents who get to decide whether or not to re-elect Pelosi, therefore it would be a total waste of time and money to put forth even one penny and/or one second of effort into trying to defeat Pelosi. In other words, SF is infested from top to bottom with wonderful and extremely intelligent great independent thinkers who will automatically vote for a phony and scam artist such as Pelosi, and who pretends to be a liberal, and no matter what she does and pulls.

    However Feinstein, and unlike Pelosi, has to run on a statewide basis, and rather than having her future determined only by SF voters, and a problem for Feinstein is that not everybody in California is as extremely “intelligent” and “informed” as SF voters.

    (It is because of the extreme “intelligence,” the extreme “sophistication,” and the extreme “education” of SF residents, that therefore such phonies, frauds, parasites, and con men as Jim Jones have always considered San Francisco to be the very most ideal environment to work their scams.)

    And still furthermore, Feinstein is in her eighties (I believe Pelosi is “only” in her seventies), and more and more people are beginning to wonder whether she is getting senile, and therefore, and just like the public perception that sunk Pete Stark, thinking it is time for her to retire.

    Of course, and even in spite of all of the above, more than likely Feinstein will survive the present situation, and therefore win another term. However that such discussions are even going on right now will leave her badly damaged and weakened, and therefore make her much less effective if she does serve another term in the US Senate.


  5. I admire Barbra Lee greatly, and vote for her every two years; however I just don't envision her running against Senator Feinstein. Rep. Lee is much needed in House of Representatives, and it would be foolhardy to basically give up her seat for the slim chance of defeating Feinstein. Two traits that most politicians have, aside from ambition; is being pragmatic. Anything is possible, but I don't envision the above scenarios bearing fruit


  6. seems Lee is pretty happy where she is…don't see her leaving. and we all know why cowardly and calculated Khanna goes after DiFi but not Pelosi. Pelosi assigns his committees.


  7. By MW:

    As to the reason Khanna would even publicly hint, let alone admit, he might think it is time to replace Feinstein, AND ESPECIALLY SINCE FEINSTEIN HAS BEEN THERE BASICALLY FOREVER, AND THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM IS THAT NO DEMOCRAT COULD EVER WIN A CHALLENGE TO HER, AND THEREFORE SHE WILL ONLY LEAVE WHEN SHE IS READY, however actually: one, there is a lot more dissatisfaction among rank and file Democrats with such long entrenched creatures as Pelosi and Feinstein than a lot of people want to admit; and two, the DP is beginning to fracture.

    Or perhaps I should say the DP is already fractured, and is also developing still more fractures every month, and which therefore means more and more of the lower ranking soldiers in the DP are getting disenchanted, and as a result interested in dumping and replacing the five star generals such as Feinstein.

    And looking at it just from a California perspective, first Pete Stark got thrown out and replaced by Swalwell, and even though certainly most of the “experts” definitely “knew” beyond a shadow of a doubt that absolutely no-one, and especially an unknown such as Swalwell, would have even the slightest chance against a long entrenched institution such as Stark.

    And over the last few elections, and with California and the Bay area's Nancy Pelosi in charge, the DP has been losing tons of seats. And when Democrats think of Pelosi and the extreme disaster she has been, they will also think of her associates, partners, and “running mates,” and such as for instance Feinstein and Hillary.

    In fact, it's sort of like baseball or football. In other words, if the team has been losing for a few seasons in a row, and still furthermore it seems that if the present manager or head coach is retained the team will the most likely keep on losing in the foreseeable future, I think it is time to replace the big boy at the top and see if perhaps a new manager, head coach, OR SENATOR, can stop the losing streak.


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