34 Candidates And The Biggest Reaction To The California Senate Race Is A Well-Deserved Yawn
Blue America is backing several candidates in California's dysfunctional jungle primaries today. On the congressional side, we have endorsed one incumbent, Mike Honda (CA-17) and 4 challengers: Bill Ostrander (CA-24), Lou Vince (CA-25), Nanette Barragán (CA-44), Bao Nguyen (CA-46). I wound also recommend NO votes against 5 Democratic incumbents who have not earned reelection: Ami Bera (CA-07), Jim Costa (CA-16), Zoe Lofgren (CA-19), Pete Aguilar (D-31) and Scott Peters (CA-52). But you may have noticed that neither the Blue America PAC nor DWT has had anything to say about the race to replace Barbara Boxer in the Senate, other than that we're happy to see see Boxer finally leave and would be even happier to see Feinstein follow her, the sooner the better.
The primary pits 34 candidates against each other for the 2 places in the November election-- 7 Democrats, a dozen Republicans, a Green, 2 Libertarians, and a slew of independents. It is widely expected that the two top vote-getters will be the establishment pick Attorney General Kamala Harris and not-too-bright reactionary Blue Dog Loretta Sanchez, who hopes to cobble together a coalition of conservatives-- there will be no Republican in the race in November-- and Hispanics voting strictly on ethnic identity. I voted for Bernie-oriented, anti-Establishment Democrat Steve Stokes, who i got to know when he ran for Congress in my district against then-Blue Dog Adam Schiff.
The newest poll on the California Senate race indicates that the Republican brand is even more in the toilet than usual, in great part due to Señor Trump's unabashed racism, misogyny and xenophobia. Kamala Harris is the front runner with 28%, followed by the Blue Dog Sanchez with 20% and even if you could magically combine all the Republicans running (and even throw in all the independents and Libertarians and even the Green, that doesn't even equal the second-place Democrat! The top-drawing Republicans, Tom Del Beccaro and George Sundheim are at 6% each, a sad state of affairs for the state's Republican Party, which looks likely to lose up and down the ballot this cycle. The most in jeopardy Republicans in November are Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Steve Knight, whose only possible path to salvation an incompetent DCCC, with longshot upsets looming for Darrell Issa and Ed Royce, again, each likely to be saved strictly because of the gross incompetence of Pelosi's DCCC. (It would take a compete DCCC chair-- say Mark Pocan or Keith Ellison-- one or two cycles to reduce the Republicans in the California congressional delegation from 13 out of 53 to 6 or 7, a more accurate reflection of how Republicans are viewed by Golden State voters.
Interest in the Senate primary is very minimal, not just drowned out by the hot presidential primary but also by the extremely low level of candidates, none of whom are inspiring outside of the realm of identity politics-- "look at me, I'm a Latina" or "look at me I'm a woman who is also (fill in the ethnic blank depending on who Harris is talking to)." It's a Senate seat from the biggest state in the union, probably a lifetime career and no one cares much. What do the front runners stand for? Nothing at all-- one is slightly (REALLY slightly) left of center and the other is excruciatingly right of center. The most positive thing anyone says about Harris is that she's better than Sanchez. And the most positive thing anyone says about Sanchez is that although she votes like a Republican, it's time for a Latina in the Senate, even a dummy like her. One bit of irony is that although Sanchez is a Blue Dog that opposes almost every policy Bernie supports, 52% of people who identify themselves as Bernie backers, say they're going to vote for her.
Harris' piss-poor campaign is policy-free-- in the hope of not offending anyone-- so she hasn't even bothered to let voters know that Sanchez is a Blue Dog and a New Dem and often votes with the Republicans against President Obama. Harris has raised $11,066,550 (wasted $6,344,212 on a completely ineffective establishment campaign from yesteryear) but feels she will crush Sanchez with money. Sanchez has raised $3,475,392 and has spent most of it, not especially well, although better than Harris' campaign has. Measured by contributions, neither has generated any grassroots affinity. Only 1% of Sanchez's contributions come from small donors and just 13% of Harris' come from small donors. Both campaigns have taken big money from lobbyists, Harris $77,687 and Sanchez $40,150. It's unbelievable that a progressive didn't bother jumping into the race in the face of these two weak, even pathetic, candidates, neither of whom has anything to offer to the Senate or to the citizens of California.
The NY Times helped sum up the pointlessness of the contest
For much of the race, Ms. Harris has largely ignored the rest of the field. She relies on the phrase “smart on crime” to convey her views on criminal justice and uses the label “fearless” in campaign advertisements. While her experience as the state’s top law enforcement official is her most important credential, she has never taken a position on a 2014 voter-approved measure to release thousands of inmates and reduce sentences for nonviolent offenders.This race is the poster child for a potential referendum forcing "none of the above" onto all ballots. This is the Blue America Senate page this cycle-- no room for sieves like Harris or Sanchez:
Ms. Sanchez, who is running her first statewide campaign, points to her work in Congress to portray herself as the candidate most prepared to deal with national security. She has promoted her support from colleagues in the House, campaigning with several of them in recent appearances. Representative Filemon Vela, Democrat of Texas [and on the extreme right of the congressional Democrats], released a statement late last month calling the California Democratic Party’s support for Ms. Harris “insulting to Latinos all across this country.”
“Not one single Democratic Latina has ever been in the United States Senate,” Mr. Vela said in the statement, adding that the party’s position is "a disrespectful example of wayward institutional leadership, which on the one hand ‘wants our vote’ but on the other hand wants to ‘spit us out.’”