California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte said Wednesday that he’s absolutely fine with the GOP being shut out of the fall runoff for U.S. Senate, contending it’s better for his party to have Democrats Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez spend money against each other.
“That beats having a Republican sacrificial lamb running against the Democrat who can take half of what she raised and use it to help Harry Reid beat Republicans in other states,” Brulte, a former GOP legislative leader, wrote in an email to The Bee.
The primary race to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer had Harris, the state attorney general, drawing 40 percent of the vote and Sanchez, a 10-term congresswoman from Orange County, at 19 percent. Duf Sundheim, a former state GOP chairman, was well out of contention at 8 percent.
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California’s strong Democratic registration would have made it exceedingly difficult for a Republican to beat either Harris or Sanchez in the fall. The party was not directly involved in the primary election. GOP mega-donor Charles Munger, Jr., one of its largest benefactors, did inject a late surge of spending on behalf of Sundheim and to oppose former party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro.
Brulte noted that the last time a non-incumbent Republican was elected to the U.S. Senate in a presidential election was 1976. Republicans last carried California for U.S. Senate in the 1988 reelection of Pete Wilson.
And the last competitive U.S. Senate race was in 1994, against Democrat Dianne Feinstein.
Said Brulte: “That race was only competitive because Michael Huffington could put 20-plus million dollars of his own money in the campaign.”