In one respect, it was a nothingburger of a story: California’s senior senator Dianne Feinstein formally endorsed the presidential candidate she has been informally backing all along, Joe Biden. Indeed, as the San Francisco Chronicle noted in first reporting the development, Feinstein hosted a fundraiser for Uncle Joe in her home just last week.
But the lack of any particular reason to draw attention to the Californian’s support for her old friend has to make you wonder why it was necessary to produce one. Having stepped right up to the fail-safe line and signaled her ultimate intentions, Feinstein would normally have refrained from a formal endorsement that severely disrespected her junior Golden State colleague, Kamala Harris, not to mention the other four U.S. senators currently in the race, as the Los Angeles Times observed:
Feinstein’s endorsement stands out not just for the home-state slight, but that she has picked sides at all. With five current senators still in the race, many of their colleagues have declined to endorse at all, citing wariness of choosing favorites among their political friends.
Indeed, of the Democratic senators endorsing a candidate so far, the only ones who are not from that candidate’s home state are Bob Casey, from Biden’s native state of Pennsylvania; Doug Jones of Alabama, who desperately needs to identify himself with the moderate wing of his party; and now Feinstein. Maybe it was just a coincidence that Feinstein made her move soon after Warren moved ahead of Biden in two highly influential California primary polls (from PPIC and LAT/Berkeley), even as she also pulled ahead of the former veep in RealClearPolitics’ national polling averages. But probably not. We may see more big Biden endorsements, if my hunch is right and Biden is calling in all his chits to maintain his position as at least a co-front-runner in the 2020 race. Too bad for him that the endorsement that could do him the most good, from Barack Obama, will probably never come, unless and until Biden wins the nomination on his own.