These things usually come in threes.
- First and foremost is the highly embarrassing - and possibly expensive - Kinde Durkee affair. For those not following along with that story: Durkee was a Californian accountant used by numerous Democratic campaigns on the federal, state, and local level. Said campaigns are all now freaking out, because Durkee was just recently arrested on multiple accounts of mail fraud involving various politicians' campaign funds*. Sen. Feinstein was one of the politicians who used Durkee; and aside from an at-the-time comment made to Politico about her being 'wiped out,' Feinstein is keeping mum about how much of her 5.2 million dollar war chest is still accessible to the campaign.
- Next up: this Field Poll about Senator Feinstein (via Andrew Malcolm**) give some pretty bad numbers, here. 41/39 approval/disapproval (a severe drop from her normal approval ratings) and she's underwater (41/44) on her re-election numbers (also a severe drop). If you're wondering whether this is a big deal, well, Reuters primly notes "A spokesman for Feinstein, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992 after a long career as San Francisco's mayor, could not be reached for comment." Also: Feinstein's polling has been steadily getting worse since 2006.
- Finally, here's an interesting rumor: former talk radio host and hard-line conservative Michael Reagan (adopted son of Ronald Reagan is apparently contemplating a 2012 Senate run. While the Feinstein campaign might argue that this is good news - Michael Reagan has never held public office, and the California of 2012 is not the California of 1966 - it remains true that Sen. Feinstein has not yet committed to running for re-election in 2012. The woman is 78 years old, has been in the Senate for almost two decades***, and it is considered unlikely that she will be the Chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee after next year's elections.
This would be the point where I would caution readers about thinking that all of this means that Senator Feinstein would fold like a cheap suit if challenged strongly... and then I thought of something: if you had asked me in September of 2009, I would have given the same well-meant caution about pinning one's hopes on getting rid of Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Obviously, the real answer here is to go find a candidate as good as Senator Ron Johnson, and get him or her to run.
Because there's ain't no such thing as an unwinnable seat.
Moe Lane (crosspost)
*To give you an idea of how bad it is: the conspiracy theory has been publicly floated that Kinde Durkee is actually a deep-cover GOP operative that has been activated in order to destroy the California Democratic party for 2012. She's not, but California Republicans should think about at least sending her care packages when Durkee finally takes up residence at Club Fed. Noblesse oblige, and all that.
**Congrats to Andrew on his new gig, by the way.
***First elected in a 1992 special election.