A case can be made for California Republicans and disaffected conservatives to vote for Kevin de León for U.S. Senate.
Note my wording: I’m offering a case for Republicans and conservatives to vote for de León, the state senator from Los Angeles. But I am in no way making a conservative or a Republican case to vote for a candidate who has campaigned as a “progressive” alternative to five-term Democratic incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein.
The distinction is vital.
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My friend Michael Anton, who was President Donald Trump’s National Security Council spokesman before leaving to toil in the groves of academia, once warned: “Whenever you find an article that begins with the title, ‘The Conservative Case’ for or against something, lock your door, check your wallet, and grab your gun. You know what’s coming is an unadulterated sell-out of everything ‘conservatism’ purports to hold dear.”
Right. This isn’t that.
Republicans have no real candidate for U.S. Senate, thanks to the state’s idiotic top-two primary law — a parting gift from former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the soft-headed Republican duo who somehow thought the key to winning was to make it easier for the GOP to lose.
It’s no surprise that in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by roughly 2.5 million, the options in the general election usually come down to a question of which shade of blue you prefer: navy or cerulean? Midnight or indigo? Some choice.
Truth is, there is no principled case whatsoever for Republicans or conservatives to vote for de León, whose birth name is Kevin Alexander Leon (no accent). I cannot imagine a single policy de León advocates that Republicans or conservatives could or would want to support.
Medicare-for-All? The sanctuary state law? “Assault weapons” bans? Sky-high taxes? Come on. The guy is practically a socialist. By comparison, Feinstein looks like a Reagan Republican. (She isn’t, not even close.)
Feinstein is a liberal Democrat of the old school. She co-authored the original federal assault weapons ban. She’s reliably pro-abortion, pro-regulation, pro-tax, pro-welfare state. She’s about as green as they come.
She has also been adept at funneling business to her husband, Richard Blum. After many long decades of distinguished public service (ahem), Feinstein’s net worth stands at $94 million. Nice work if you can get it.
So if you’re a Republican, why vote for De León over Feinstein? Why vote at all?
Two words: Brett Kavanaugh.
Feinstein was the prime mover behind the Kavanaugh confirmation debacle last month. She had the now-infamous letter from Christine Blasey Ford that accused now-Justice Kavanaugh of sexual assault at a high school party sometime in 1982.
The ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, Feinstein held on to the letter for about two months after reportedly receiving it from Bay Area congresswoman Anna Eshoo in July. Feinstein knew of its contents when she met privately with Kavanaugh in August. She certainly knew during the first round of Kavanaugh’s public hearings in early September.
Only after those hearings concluded did Feinstein choose to pass the letter along to the FBI for a follow-up inquiry. She was very coy about the letter’s contents. But Washington being Washington, it wasn’t long before the details leaked. And only then did word trickle out that Kavanaugh may have had something in his past that could upset his path to confirmation.
Feinstein did that. She vehemently denies leaking the letter or Ford’s name, which is something a Senate investigation needs to suss out. But there’s no denying she set the events in motion in a last-minute effort to keep Kavanaugh off the high court.
How long did it take for the allegation to morph from obscure and uncorroborated claim to the metaphysically certain belief that “Kavanaugh is a rapist”? About 15 minutes?
Feinstein did that. She pulled the pin on that grenade.
For a Republican or an undecided independent who was appalled by the entire Kavanaugh spectacle, a vote for de León isn’t a vote for socialized medicine, amnesty for undocumented foreigners, gun control, or higher taxes. It’s a vote to punish Feinstein. Period.
And if the polls are correct and Republicans not only hold the U.S. Senate but actually gain seats, Feinstein’s ouster would give California a freshman senator with none of Feinstein’s seniority or experience. De León would join Sen. Kamala Harris as one more grandstander in a body full of them.
Politics can be about many things, some of them quite noble. But as often as not, politics is about rewarding friends and punishing enemies. If Republicans have no friends to reward, they can at least punish a well-deserving enemy. It’s as simple as that.