Feb. 25 (UPI) -- The California Democratic Party declined to offer an endorsement in the primary challenge faced by Sen. Diane Feinstein.
Delegates at the party's annual convention in San Diego voted in favor of state Senate leader Kevin de Leon, Feinstein's primary challenger who is running a campaign to the senator's left.
The party announced delegates favored de Leon 54 percent to 37 percent, leaving both candidates short of the 60 percent required to gain the party's endorsement for the 2018 race.
"The outcome of today's endorsement vote is an astounding rejection of politics as usual, and it boosts our campaign's momentum as we all stand shoulder-to-shoulder against a complacent status quo," de Leon said in a statement. "California Democrats are hungry for new leadership that will fight for California values from the front lines, not equivocate on the sidelines."
The outcome as a convention is seen as a boost for de Leon, who has also picked up influential labor endorsements from the California chapter of the Service Employees International Union and National Nurses United, but Feinstein, who has held her seat since a 1992 special election remains far ahead in statewide polls.
De Leon cast himself as a more progressive alternative to the moderate Feinstein in a speech to the convention on Saturday.
"I'm running for the U.S. Senate because the days of Democrats biding our time, biting our tongue, and trying to let it work the margins are over," he said. "I'm running because California's greatness comes from paths of human audacity, not congressional seniority."
Feinstein's remarks Saturday focused on her advocacy of gun control measures as well as the need for Democratic unity amid Republican control of Washington.
She said California Democrats represent "the largest delegation in the House. You've got Kamala Harris and me in the Senate." She said the party will be more effective in pushing its agenda "if we have unified support."
The California Democratic Party also declined to issue an endorsement in the governor's race, delegates voted by 39 percent to endorse Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, while state Treasurer John Chiang received 30 percent of the votes, former state schools chief Delaine Eastin captured 20 percent and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa received 9 percent of votes.