Capitol Alert

Loretta Sanchez dismisses Gabby Giffords’ endorsement of Kamala Harris

Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Philadelphia.
Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the lobby of the Marriott Hotel in Downtown Philadelphia.

U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez dismissed Kamala Harris’ endorsement from a celebrated gun-control advocate on Thursday, accusing the state’s top law enforcement official of prioritizing a lavish campaign schedule over helping bring down the crime rate.

“No endorsement can hide Kamala Harris’ failed record to keep guns away from criminals and people with mental illness putting public safety at risk,” Sanchez’s spokesman, Luis Vizcaino, said in a statement issued hours after former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords endorsed Harris.

Harris, who leads in polls and fundraising and has the support of the state Democratic Party, held a news conference Thursday with Giffords and her husband, the retired astronaut Mark Kelly, to announce their endorsement.

The couple co-founded Americans for Responsible Solutions PAC to advocate for gun-control after Giffords was shot in the head by a mentally ill assailant at a constituent event in 2011. Six people were killed in the shooting in Tucson, Ariz.

Harris at the event in Beverly Hills called the pair “American heroes.” Her campaign spokesman responded to Sanchez in a statement.

“It’s deeply disappointing to see Congresswoman Sanchez once again resorting to Trump-style smears and even go so far as to call out a heroic former colleague who is an inspiration to millions,” Nathan Click said.

Sanchez’s critique linked to a 2015 follow-up audit into the Justice Department’s firearm-collection program. It found that the department’s delays in fully implementing 2013 recommendations by the auditor resulted in a “continued risk to public safety.” Harris officials have pointed to the progress they say has been made in collecting firearms from people who shouldn’t have them.

“Where has Kamala Harris been this past year?” Vizcaino added in his statement, accusing Harris of spending too much time on the campaign trail. “She has been crisscrossing the country on first-class travel and luxury hotels while crime increases in California.”

Sanchez’s sharp rebuke is reminiscent of her response to the July endorsement of Harris by President Barack Obama and Joe Biden.

In the statement that ran 550 words, Sanchez said, “I believe that California voters are deeply concerned about the entrenched political establishment which has failed to work for them.

“Yet, it has been clear for some time that the same political establishment would rather have a coronation instead of an election for California’s next U.S. Senator.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago