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Harris, Sanchez to Face off in Dem v. Dem Showdown for U.S. Senate Seat

Created: 08 June, 2016
Updated: 17 October, 2022
2 min read

SACRAMENTO, CALIF. - California Attorney General Kamala Harris and U.S. Rep Loretta Sanchez became the first two candidates from the same party to move on to the general election in a U.S. Senate race in California. The race guarantees that no matter who wins, history will be made in California.

After more than two decades, U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer announced she was leaving the Senate, which turned her retirement into a highly competitive race where an astounding 34 candidates tried to win over California voters.

Under California’s nonpartisan, top-two primary, all candidates and voters participate on a single ballot, regardless of political preference, and the top two vote-getters move on to November. As predicted, Harris and Sanchez garnered the most votes in the massive field of candidates.

Republican candidates Tom Del Beccaro, Duf Sundheim, and Ron Unz battled with Sanchez for second place, but Sanchez, who currently represents California’s 46th Congressional District, managed to get 18.5% of the vote, over 10 points higher than Sundheim, who came in third. Harris came out on top with 40.4% of the vote.

Harris was elected attorney general in 2010, becoming the first female and the first African-American to serve in the position in California. She previously served as San Francisco’s district attorney, after defeating eight-year incumbent Terence Hallinan. Harris is a native of Oakland who has focused her career on tackling cybercrime, supporting immigrant rights, and boosting better education.

Sanchez has represented California in the United States Congress for the past 19 years. She has distinguished herself for her strong sense of bipartisanship, her strength to cast votes that do not always agree with the party’s leadership, and her advocacy for security and immigration. In an interview with IVN, Sanchez said at the end of the day, she is the candidate with the broadest appeal.

"I am not the candidate of the party insiders, because I have continually demonstrated my independence as a member of Congress. When voters compare my accomplishments and legislative record, as the only candidate to ever cast a vote in Congress, I believe that I will convince them that I am the right choice for California," she said.

IVN reached out to Harris’ campaign for comment, but has not received a response to date.

Going into the primary, both Democratic candidates pulled in major endorsements, which they will likely use to draw clear distinctions between their campaigns. Harris has the endorsement of major party leaders and the California Democratic Party, while Sanchez touts the endorsements of 24 editorial boards and online news sources, as well as support from colleagues in Congress and major union leaders.

In the end, these endorsements may be one of the biggest factors in how voters -- especially those outside the Democratic Party -- cast their ballot on November 8. The lack of a Republican candidate in the Senate race will bring a new dynamic to the general election and will push both Democratic candidates to broaden their message to Republicans and independents.