By Doug Porter
The optics of Democratic Senatorial candidate Loretta Sanchez touring with Republican Congressman Darrell Issa recently can be difficult to understand until you realize they actually need each other at this point.
The well is dry for Sanchez when it comes to pumping up support from her party. And Issa needs to convince voters in his district that he’s less of an ogre than his choice for president, Donald Trump.
Such is the state of politics on the Left Coast these days. The woman who unseated Rep. Bob Dornan–who spent 18 years being the enfant terible of the Congress–is now tying her fate to the man who many accuse of leading witchhunts for the past eight years.
So we end up with this story in the Los Angeles Times, as the odd couple tour military facilities together in southern California:
Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is supporting his colleague Rep. Loretta Sanchez in this fall’s Senate race, a contest that pits two Democrats against each other and gives GOP voters no obvious choice.
The two appeared together in Issa’s congressional district this week, giving Sanchez an opportunity to publicize her expertise on national defense in a part of the state where she needs to do well with Democrats, Republicans and independents alike if she hopes to overtake her rival, Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris.
A Gold Rush, 2016 Style
When Senator Barbara Boxer announced her retirement in January 2015, a gold rush of candidates lined up hoping to replace her. Thirty-four contenders, including seven Democrats, 12 Republicans, and 15 third-party candidates vied for the top two slots in the June primary.
To no one’s surprise, two Democrats, California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez advanced to the general election. California’s top-two primary system just about guaranteed the outcome, given the internal divisions and sinking popularity of the Republican party in the state.
Harris has the inside track on the job, with the support of broad swath of party luminaries from President Obama down to city council persons around the state. With family connections extending back into the civil rights era and a record as an innovative prosecutor, she’s built a commanding lead in the polls.
No Debates? One Debate
At this point in the contest, it appears there will be no debates between the two candidates.
From Amita Sharma at KPBS:
California Attorney General Kamala Harris’senate campaign has agreed to two debates. The Sacramento Bee, KUVS Univision 19, KVIE, Capital Public Radio and Sacramento State have sponsored one debate for Sept. 20. Another, slated for October 5 in Los Angeles, is co-sponsored by KABC, the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute for Public Affairs and the League of Women Voters.
Harris’ opponent, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, said she can’t attend this month’s debate. She missed a deadline to respond to The Sacramento Bee’s debate request and she has not committed to the October event. Sanchez said she has agreed, however, to other debate invitations — just not the ones Harris selected.
“I’ve agreed to four,” Sanchez said. “Why does she not agree to the ones I’ve agreed to? That is the question you need to be asking her.”
Harris’s campaign said it is finished debating debates.
This is an instance where the written word misses the nuance of the spoken word. Sanchez comes across very poorly in her segment of the story. (There is a video at the link. Judge for yourself.)
UPDATE 9/8: Via the Sacramento Bee:
The Sanchez campaign and debate sponsors confirmed Wednesday that the Oct. 5 debate from Los Angeles would proceed after weeks of wrangling over the fall schedule. Harris, the frontrunner, came out first in agreeing to the Los Angeles debate, as well as a planned Sept. 20 TV debate in Sacramento.
Sanchez, said two head-to-head debates would not suffice, and refused to participate in the Sacramento event. On Tuesday, she challenged Harris to a series of four debates, all in Los Angeles. Harris’ camp has maintained that if Sanchez wanted more than one meeting she should have agreed to appear in Sacramento for the debate proposed by The Sacramento Bee, KUVS Univision 19, KVIE, Capital Public Radio and California State University, Sacramento.
Sanchez spokesman Luis Vizcaino said Wednesday that Sanchez has accepted the Oct. 5 debate, sponsored by KABC-TV, the Edmund G. “Pat” Brown Institute for Public Affairs and the League Women Voters.
A Coalition of Republican and Latino Voters? (Really?)
Loretta Sanchez won six counties in the June 2016 primary: Fresno, Imperial, Kings, Madera, Orange, and Tulare counties. With the exception of Orange County, these are all counties with a majority Mexican-American population, with the exception of Orange County.
Sanchez, who opted for the Senate race after contemplating a run for California Governor against Jerry Brown in 2014, is a socially liberal hawk. She’s currently serving on the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees.
From the Los Angeles Times:
A review of Sanchez’s attendance shows she missed 13 of 18 Homeland Security meetings from January through early November, tied for the second-worst attendance on the committee. She missed the vast majority of her subcommittee meetings and half the full meetings in the 2013-14 congressional term, when she was not yet running for higher office.
Last year, Sanchez was supposed to co-chair a task force on obstructing terrorist travel and keeping violent extremists from entering the United States.
But two Republicans on the eight-member panel, who said they attended most of at least 16 meetings and briefings over seven months, said they never saw Sanchez there.
According to GovTrack, the last (and only) bill she sponsored that was signed into law was 2002’s H.R. 1366: To designate the United States Post Office building located at 3101 West Sunflower Avenue in Santa Ana, California, as the “Hector G. Godinez Post Office Building.” She has co-sponsored numerous bills over the years.
Earlier in her Congressional tenure, Sanchez joined a group called the “Blue Dog Coalition” dedicated to fiscal conservatism. She was one of 63 members of her party who opposed the 2008 bank bailout.
In 2015, according to Congressional Quarterly, Sanchez voted with Democrats nearly 97% of the time, higher than average for others in the party.
Local Democrats endorsing her include Reps Juan Vargas, Scott Peters, and Susan Davis. She also has been endorsed by the Congressional Hispanic Caucus’ BOLD PAC.
Her reputation for a having quick tongue has gotten her in trouble; for making a gesture mocking Native Americans by making a “war cry,” for claiming 5% to 20% of Muslims support terrorism, and for suggesting (a claim she denies) race was involved in President Obama’s endorsement of her opponent.
Sanchez’s strategy is based on a hope and a prayer. Three million or so people (40%) voted for Harris in the primary. While the Orange County congresswoman only attracted 1.4 million votes (19%), there were three million votes for other candidates. Her backers are hoping to draw from Republican and Latino voters among the 65% of voters in November who either didn’t vote in the primary or voted for another candidate.
Lots of luck with that idea, said the Harris campaign, in effect, following the primary.
From the Orange County Register:
“(Harris) put up 40 points like Steph Curry,” said consultant Sean Clegg, referring to the NBA superstar. “Loretta Sanchez is pulling up to the starting line with four flat tires.”
Rough road ahead
Clegg and other Harris campaign strategists ticked off a list of Harris’ strong showing among primary voters in every region of the state and every ethnic group. They noted that they’ve built a nationwide network of donors and dismissed Sanchez’ apparent strategy of building a coalition of Latino and Republican voters.
“We’ve never seen a coalition of Latino and Republican voters, especially with a Republican presidential nominee Latinos find so offensive,” Clegg said.
Harris: Prospering in Rough and Tumble Politics
When Kamala Harris took the oath of office in 2011, she became the state’s first female, first black and first Asian American attorney general, as well as the first Tamil attorney general in U.S. history.
It didn’t take long for Harris to appear on the national radar. In October 2011, she withdrew from multi-state settlement negotiations with mortgage lenders stemming from illegal foreclosures on homes based on “robosigning” documents and other abusive procedures.
In February 2012, she returned to the negotiating table and ended up winning big.
…Harris held a press conference in Los Angeles to herald a deal that looks exceptionally favorable to California. Out of the $40 billion in total benefits that are expected to flow from the $25 billion settlement that the banks agreed to pay, California is set to emerge with some $18 billion.
Harris wrung a commitment from the banks to reduce loans to distressed homeowners by $9 billion, and to provide $3 billion to assist short sales. Another $6 billion will fund restitution and anti-blight programs, among other things. There are also enforcement and penalty provisions unique to California that Harris said will make sure the banks comply with the terms of the settlement.
Harris’ hardball tactics reflect a woman who has prospered in the rough and tumble politics of the Golden State.
Late last year there were reports of turmoil in the Harris camp, as she replaced her campaign manager amid reports of excessive spending.
More recently, her name has been mentioned among possible choices for a Supreme Court nomination and as a potential choice.
I saw her speak last year in Escondido and was impressed with her grasp of big picture issues. Having said that, all the support she’s received from the Democratic Party establishment didn’t come for free. Don’t have any expectations about her being a maverick.
Harris has come under criticism for her handling of an investigation into the California Public Utilities Commission and Southern California Edison settlement over the San Onofre Nuclear plant’s closure that left ratepayers with the $3.3 billion bill.
Former San Diego City Attorney Mike Aguirre, along with other advocates, say Harris has failed to follow through after damning information was discovered via a search warrant served on the residence of CPUC President Michael Peevey.
Consumer advocate Charles Langley said Harris may not want to pursue the San Onofre investigation to its end because the state’s Democratic hierarchy could be touched by it and that could affect her U.S. Senate bid.
“This is a scandal that will very likely implicate Gov. Jerry Brown, a powerful Democrat, and Michael Peevey, a powerful Democrat, and his wife, an elected powerful Democrat,” Langley said. “I think it’s very distressing to her when she’s running for U.S. Senate and going up against the Democratic Party structure.”
For Further Information
Candidate Statements from the Official Voter Information Guide
Kamala D. Harris – I am running for the United States Senate because I believe it is time to repair the ladder of opportunity for more Californians and more Americans. As a lifelong prosecutor, I have always served just one client: The People of California.
As District Attorney of San Francisco and California Attorney General, I’ve proudly stood up to powerful interests on behalf of the people and won real victories for our families. I took on violent predators, including the transnational criminal organizations and human traffickers who profit from exploiting women and children. I prosecuted polluters and big oil companies, took on the big Wall Street banks and worked across the aisle to pass the nation’s toughest antiforeclosure law to protect our homeowners.
As California’s United States Senator, I will continue to fight hard for the people and cut through the gridlock that pervades Washington. I will work to create the jobs our people need by bringing home federal dollars that will repair our crumbling water and transportation systems. I’ll fight for better schools and to give every child access to pre-kindergarten and affordable childcare.
With student loan debt crippling college graduates, I’ll fight for refinancing and reform that makes college more affordable for all students. I will stand up for our veterans who deserve quality health care and job training when they come home. I’ll defend our environment and coast and lead the fight against climate change. Please join me. Thank you for your consideration.
Loretta L Sanchez – California needs a proven leader who can deliver results and tackle the full range of economic, educational and security challenges we face today.
Our next U.S. Senator must have extensive legislative and national security experience and share the life experiences of working people. I do, and that’s why I am the best candidate for the job.
My parents were hardworking immigrants who struggled to provide for their seven children. I worked my way through college with the help of government and union grants, and the Anaheim Rotary Club paid for my MBA. My parents worked hard, valued education and are the only parents in American history to send two daughters to Congress.
That’s why I have fought passionately in Congress for 20 years for education, affordable college, healthcare reform, immigration reform, gender equality, LGBT rights, raising the minimum wage, and environmental protection.
I’ve also demonstrated independent judgment and courage when it mattered most: I voted against the Iraq War, the so-called Patriot Act, and the Wall Street bailouts. As a senior member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security Committees, I’ve worked to ensure our troops are trained and equipped to win and cared for when they come home.
I’m the only candidate with the national security experience necessary to keep America safe from international and domestic terrorism. As your Senator, I will fight for all Californians, so together we can have a stronger and more prosperous future. I humbly ask for your vote.
Note: For those of you unfamiliar with Ballotpedia, I highly recommend it as a non-partisan source for further information on candidates and ballot issues.
Our endorsements will be included in our General Election Progressive Voter Guide, published shortly after mail-in ballots are delivered in October.
Other San Diego Free Press coverage of the 2016 general election.
Tomorrow: Looking at House Representatives Contests. We’ll be writing about various state and local contests Monday-Friday for the next six weeks.
On This Day: 1869 – One of the worst disasters in the history of U.S. anthracite mining occurred at the Avondale Mine, near Scranton, Pa., when a fire originating from a furnace at the bottom of a 237-foot shaft roared up the shaft, killing 110 miners. 1941 – Jews in German-occupied areas were ordered to wear the Star of David with the word “Jew” inscribed. The order only applied to Jews over the age of 6. 2002 – In New York, the U.S. Congress convened at Federal Hall for a rare special session. The session was held in New York to express the nation’s mourning for the loss on September 11, 2001 and unity in the war against terrorism.
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