Capitol Alert

‘War-whoop’ aside, Sanchez’s media scamper could prove costly

California Rep. Loretta Sanchez, left, greets supporters at the California Democrats State Convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, May 16, 2015.
California Rep. Loretta Sanchez, left, greets supporters at the California Democrats State Convention in Anaheim, Calif., on Saturday, May 16, 2015. AP

Rep. Loretta Sanchez, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, stumbled onto the national airwaves this weekend with her mocking cliché of American Indians.

Sanchez apologized at her state party’s annual convention Sunday after fellow Democrat and Senate candidate Kamala Harris called the gesture “shocking.”

But for all the attention on that, Sanchez’s mad scramble to evade a TV reporter may prove more politically damaging in the long run.

In news coverage captured by Sacramento-based KCRA, reporter David Bienick questions the congresswoman while chasing her toward the convention center. Sanchez, who looks as though she may be trying to catch up with someone ahead of her, refuses to engage in the line of inquiry.

Footage of the scamper may become fodder for a campaign ad, said Rob Stutzman, a veteran GOP strategist who said he watched the tape a half-dozen times.

While the “war-whoop” is difficult to put into context and explain to voters, “the image of her shrieking and running away from a reporter says a lot about how to think about her,” Stutzman said. “This is the first impression most voters have had of her, and it’s just kind of odd. It’s bizarre.”

Sanchez’s evasive maneuver also could undermine a campaign pledge she made last week to “answer tough questions and make my positions clear.”

Andrew Acosta, a Democratic consultant, said the run may be politically costly, but it would need to be presented in a broader context. “If she continually trips and looks like the B-team, I could see a scenario to hit her with it,” he said.

But, Acosta added: “The campaign just started. There has to be more to it than her running away.”

Christopher Cadelago: (916) 326-5538, @ccadelago

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