A new statewide poll suggests there's another threat to state Sen. Kevin de León's insurgent U.S. Senate bid: A little-known Republican pushing back against his "sanctuary state" law.
James P. Bradley, running on an "America First" platform, is trailing the former California Senate leader by 1 point — a statistical tie — in the battle for second place in the June 5 primary and a spot in the November runoff, according to a poll from the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley.
U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein continues to hold a commanding lead.
"The question now boils down to who will be her challenger in the fall?" said Mark DiCamillo, the poll director. "This poll shows it’s an open question."
DiCamillo took a different approach with his survey of 1,738 likely voters than most pollsters this year. Many others assume the two leading Democrats in the race will advance beyond the June primary and have asked voters to pick between de León and Feinstein.
The Berkeley IGS poll has gone from phone interviews to online this go-round, so DiCamillo offered a complete list of all 32 candidates running for U.S. Senate.
The poll, conducted April 16-22, showed Feinstein with 28 percent of the vote and leading her top Democratic challenger across all demographics. De León was favored by 11 percent and Bradley received 10 percent. Roughly 37 percent of likely voters remain undecided.
DiCamillo said he expected Republican voters to gravitate toward GOP candidates, and Bradley's support came mostly from within the party. But Bradley, who boasts a mere 75 "likes" on Facebook and a meager 1,200 Twitter followers, was among 11 Republicans on the list.
"This was just very startling to me because one person rose out of the pack without any (Republican) challenger nearby," DiCamillo said. "It seems like a head scratcher, isn’t it?"
Bradley touts Donald Trump's "Make America Great Again" tagline in his Twitter profile and posts in support of the cities and counties fighting de León's sanctuary state law.
Jack Pitney, a professor of government at Claremont McKenna College, called the poll methodology unusual and said the results perplexed him, too.
"There are a couple possibilities," Pitney said. "Maybe he has a base of support below the radar. Maybe it could be that Bradley is a relatively common name and someone could be associating him with some other Bradley."
Pitney said the poll could signal good news for Feinstein and an easy run to November if a Republican edges out de León.
Feinstein's fundraising lead over de León — $10.4 million versus $672,000 in the bank as of March 31 — gives her a major advantage. Bradley is even worse off. The Laguna Niguel Republican did not raise the minimum $5,000 to trigger a report to the Federal Election Commission.