OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.
Democrats have been pressing the aged Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California to retire before her term officially expires in January 2025, especially after her return to the chamber earlier in May following a months-long absence while she battled shingles.
Feinstein needed to be assisted into the chamber in a wheelchair and looked visibly weak and frail, with one eye nearly closed. Subsequent reports said that her condition was worse than previously reported. But she has steadfastly refused to step down.
Now, Democrats are getting more bad news: A Republican candidate vying for her seat is currently leading other Democrats either in the race to succeed Feinstein or who have reportedly expressed an interest in running for it.
“A new poll shows Republican U.S. Senate candidate Eric Early taking a lead over Democratic candidates entering the 2024 primary race in California to replace Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein,” Newsweek reported on Thursday.
“The poll, conducted by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies, showed Early is slightly ahead of Democratic Representative Katie Porter, with the Republican receiving 18 percent of support from likely primary voters,” the outlet noted further.
According to the UC Berkeley poll, U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff garnered 14 percent of voter support, while U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee received 9 percent. However, 42 percent of those surveyed either expressed indecision or stated their intention to vote for another candidate.
It’s worth noting that these results are likely to shift as Democratic voters consolidate around a single candidate, especially in a state predominantly comprised of Democratic-leaning voters. But for now, it is equally noteworthy that a majority of voters in the survey who had decided upon a candidate were backing the Republican.
In April, Early officially launched his Senate campaign, targeting the votes of “forgotten” Californians who are grappling with issues such as rising crime rates, drug use, high taxes, and what his campaign website describes as a “far-left” agenda in government.
“As our next US Senator, Eric will stand-up to the Socialist woke interests that control Washington, DC, fight to preserve and protect our Democracy, and fight for ordinary Californians who are being left behind,” his campaign site notes, according to Newsweek.
Last week, The New York Times reported that Feinstein’s fragile appearance could be attributed to various complications that arose after her hospitalization for shingles in February, some of which had not been publicly disclosed. The shingles infection extended to her face and neck, resulting in vision and balance impairments, as well as facial paralysis known as Ramsay Hunt syndrome.
Additionally, the virus led to a previously undisclosed case of encephalitis, a rare but potentially debilitating complication of shingles. A spokesman confirmed on Thursday, following the initial report by The New York Times, that the encephalitis condition had “resolved itself” in March.
Post-shingles encephalitis, marked by brain inflammation, can result in persistent challenges for patients, including memory or language impairments, sleep disorders, confusion, mood disorders, headaches, and difficulties with mobility. Older individuals typically face more significant obstacles in their recovery.
Prior to her recent illness, Feinstein had already experienced notable memory issues, leading to concerns about her cognitive abilities.
According to a separate UC Berkeley survey this week, two-thirds of Californians don’t believe that Feinstein is fit to continue serving in her position.
KRON notes: “Many agree that she should resign immediately and allow Governor Gavin Newsom to appoint someone in her place. Sixty-seven percent of respondents blamed the senator’s recent health issues, agreeing with the statement, ‘Feinstein’s latest illness underlines the fact that she is no longer fit to continue serving in the U.S. Senate.'”
“Democrats and liberals agree that Feinstein should resign at a ratio of about two-to-one while Republicans favor her resignation at about three-to-one,” KRON added, citing the survey.