Politics & Policy

Don’t Ignore California’s Vital Senate Race

Representative Loretta Sanchez (D., Calif.) (Photo: Reuters/Mike Blake)
Better the Blue Dog Democrat than the contemptible, corrupt, repulsive Democrat.

This November, Republicans will do their best to keep the Senate in Republican hands, and that won’t be easy. Republicans currently have a Senate majority of four, but they will be fending off strong Democrat challenges in ten states they currently represent. The Democrats have only two seats at risk of turning Republican — Nevada and Colorado — and polls show that Colorado is almost out of reach.

On November , the Republicans will probably lose seats in Wisconsin and Illinois, and at the moment there’s no better than a 50–50 chance that they’ll hold Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New Hampshire. Even so, it’s possible that the most important Senate race is California’s. Let me explain.

California chooses Senate candidates with a “jungle primary:” Every primary candidates, no matter his party, appears on one ballot, and the top two finishers advance to the general-election ballot in November. Predictably, the top two finishers were Democrats, so no matter what happens on Election Day, the Senate seat of Barbara Boxer, who is retiring, is going to remain in Democratic hands. Consequently, the race has gotten very little attention, and next to none nationally. It should be getting attention, though — a lot of attention. Because it’s not just a race between two Democrats; it’s a race between a relatively moderate Democrat and a contemptible, corrupt, repulsive Democrat.

The relatively moderate Democrat is Loretta Sanchez, the representative from California’s 46th congressional district, in Orange county. She has called her self a “Blue Dog Democrat”; she is somewhat fiscally conservative, more reasonable about gun rights than the average Democrat, has taken a harder line on terrorism than the average Democrat, and — representing one of the largest Vietnamese expat communities in the country — has vocally opposed closer relations with Vietnam’s Communist government.

The contemptible, corrupt, repulsive Democrat she’s running against is Kamala Harris, California’s attorney general. After covertly shot video of Planned Parenthood employees appeared to implicate Planned Parenthood in federal crimes relating to the collection and sale of fetal tissue for research, Harris launched an investigation not into Planned Parenthood, or any of those employees, but into the journalist-activist who made the videos, David Daleiden.

The basis for investigating Daleiden was his appearing to have used a fake California driver’s license to hide his identity from Planned Parenthood, and the suspicion that he violated Planned Parenthood’s privacy. Those trivial allegations were enough for Harris to have eleven police officers raid Daleiden’s house, confiscate his computers and hard drives, some private documents, and all the yet-unreleased Planned Parenthood footage Daleiden had shot over two years. When Daleiden called his lawyer, Harris’s raiders tried to confiscate his phone too.

Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, and employees have contributed at least $30,000 to Candidate Harris. Other pro-abortion groups and their affiliates have contributed at least $50,000 more. Harris’s campaign website has a page dedicated to soliciting support for Planned Parenthood — “add your name to defend planned parenthood . . . Sign our petition to protect this organization and the important work it does.”

This country cannot tolerate a senator who uses her political power to harass and persecute the enemies of her political donors and allies. This point has nothing to do with the merits of legal abortion in the United States: Loretta Sanchez supports abortion, too. It has everything to do with protecting our federal government from the spirit of the Stasi.

The latest poll has Harris seven points ahead of Sanchez, 32 percent to 25. Twenty-four percent of California voters, though, are not planning to vote in the Senate race, or haven’t made up their minds. Two-thirds of California Republicans, who make up one-third of the electorate, plan not to vote or haven’t made up their minds.

They ought to vote, and they ought to vote for Sanchez. And everyone else ought to help make sure they know what’s at stake.

Josh Gelernter — Josh Gelernter is a weekly columnist for NRO, and a frequent contributor to The Weekly Standard.

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