Monday, April 20, 2015

CA-Sen: Loretta Sanchez close to a decision

Loretta Sanchez is going to announce her decision on a U.S. Senate bid this week and all indications are that she’ll jump in the race. Thus far, the race has been a sleepy affair, not usually what you’d expect for a U.S. Senate race, especially one from a state with more than 8 times the population of Maryland. Speculation has been that Democrats haven’t gotten in either out of respect for Attorney General Kamala Harris or because they can’t beat her.

And Harris is certainly a formidable candidate. She’s reported raising $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2015, a large amount for a quarter so far from the election. She’s a favorite of African-Americans and White progressives, has won statewide, and accumulated endorsements. Polling has been confusing. Harris has polled strongly in the horse race question. A USC Dornsife poll found that 60% of voters had no impression of Harris. Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this Field poll. They asked an unusual question about inclinations of voters to support a candidate. That’d appear to mean nothing, as Democrats will support a Democrat in a general.

While a lot of people think Harris has it in the bag, I'm not so sure. California is a big diverse state. While Harris has her constituencies, she is unknown to some and her electoral track record isn't as good as Jerry Brown. Harris' big weaknesses are considered to be moderate Democrats, Hispanics, and Southern California. A Democrat who could run strong with those three groups could beat Harris. Is there such a Democrat? Sanchez is Latina and from Southern California. I'm not sure she is the type of moderate Democrat favored in the Central Valley, however. She'd start behind in fundraising. At the end of the first quarter she had only $540k in her Federal account. That isn't as big a deal for her as it might be to other candidates. Spanish language media is highly targeted to voters she wants to reach and is much less expensive than general market media. She wouldn't need nearly as much money. Sanchez is a tough campaigner. So she certainly could provide a challenge to Harris.

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