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'Most people don't know who the hell he is.' Still, Kevin de León is thinking about running against Feinstein

 (Rich Pedroncelli / AP)
(Rich Pedroncelli / AP)

California Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) is strongly considering challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a fellow Democrat, in her 2018 reelection bid, according to sources close to De León.

One veteran California politician, who asked for anonymity to freely discuss the matter, said De León considered a campaign launch earlier this week. But the decision was delayed by Feinstein’s Monday announcement that she would run for reelection, which had been expected later in the year, as well as the wildfires ravaging the state.

CNN reported Thursday that De León intends to enter the race, attributing the story to three people with knowledge of his plans. Sources close to De León told The Times that, while he is leaning toward running, he has not yet made a final decision.

De León’s political advisors declined to comment Thursday, but a potential run by the state Senate leader has been the subject of widespread rumors that have heightened in recent weeks.

A top state Democratic leader told The Times that De León called him a couple of weeks ago seeking his advice on challenging the 84-year-old Feinstein. The leader, who also asked for anonymity to discuss the private conversation, ran through the obstacles De León was likely to face, from his lack of name identification among the state’s voters to Feinstein’s wealth and ability to self-fund a campaign.

"I told him despite all his notoriety for all of his good legislative accomplishments, most people don't know who the hell he is," the person said, adding that De León would also face a significant fundraising disadvantage.

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