Not So Fast, Kamala Harris
Once thought a shoo-in to be California’s next senator, the rising Democratic star might be in for a surprise in November.
In the wacky world of California politics, it’s a virtual certainty that no Republican will make it past the June 7 primary in the race to succeed retiring U.S. senator Barbara Boxer. California attorney general Kamala Harrishas a comfortable—but not overwhelming—lead over fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, a congresswoman from Orange County. Three Republican candidates trail far behind. Due to California’s unusual election rules, the top two vote-getters in the primary—regardless of party affiliation—will face each other in November. If the current polling stands, the general election to fill the senate seat Boxer has held since 1992 will likely be a contest between two liberal Democrats: Harris (now at 27 percent) and Sanchez (at 14 percent).
The most popular Republican currently in the race—with a scant 5 percent in the polls—is Ron Unz. A gadfly businessman-activist and former 1994 gubernatorial candidate, Unz espouses an eclectic platform that includes raising the minimum wage to $12 an hour, restricting immigration, and challenging the science behind “climate change.” Unz, who admits that his primary reason for running is to head off efforts to repeal Proposition 227, the 1998 ballot measure he championed to dismantle California’s ruinous bilingual education system, has the endorsement of Ron Paul. Former California Republican Party chairman George “Duf” Sundheim, a Bay Area attorney, languishes at 2 percent. The previous Republican “frontrunner,” GOP state assemblyman Rocky Chavez, who had been polling in the single digits, dropped out in February due to fundraising difficulties.
The Democrats’ poll rankings have remained relatively steady for months, despite the millions raised and spent by Harris. Demographic shifts and an exodus of middle-class voters have turned California into a one-party state. In statewide races, the GOP has become irrelevant; Republican candidates regularly lose by over a million votes. Accepting the “lesser-of-two-evils” reality of California politics, the right-leaning Orange County Register recently endorsed Sanchez, largely because of her opposition to the Iraq War, USA PATRIOT Act, and the $700 billion bank bailout.
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