Capitol Alert

Kamala Harris opens strong lead over Loretta Sanchez for U.S. Senate

Kamala Harris holds a strong lead over fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez in the fall contest to succeed California U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, according to the latest Field Poll.

Harris, the state attorney general, has an early 15-point lead over Sanchez, 39 percent to 24 percent. But the all-Democratic confrontation is causing large numbers of likely voters, especially Republicans and conservatives, to say they will sit out the race in November.

Some 31 percent of Republicans and 35 percent of strongly conservative voters volunteered that they won’t support either Harris or Sanchez. In a previous poll, conducted in late May, similar numbers of GOP voters told the poll they planned to lay off the contest in the Nov. 8 election.

“They just aren’t used to voting for Democrats,” said Mark DiCamillo, director of the poll.

“I think that’s the bottom line here, and it will be interesting to see whether that changes” heading into the fall months.

Despite trailing Harris with Republicans, 28 percent to 16 percent, Sanchez has increasingly made overtures to GOP voters as she works to build a coalition.


Sanchez appeared Thursday on conservative Hugh Hewitt’s nationally syndicated radio program, coming away with his unprecedented endorsement. Hewitt told his audience he couldn’t imagine ever agreeing with Harris, who is supported by the state Democratic Party and is viewed as more liberal.

“You’re center-left, and you and I are not going to vote for the same person for president. I’m not here to deceive anyone,” Hewitt told Sanchez, who also is endorsed by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a retired Republican businessman. “You are a Democrat, but I believe Republicans ought to support you, because when there will be bipartisan issues in the United State Senate, you will not be on the far left edge.”

Harris’ strength among California’s dominant Democratic voters may prove insurmountable: She has a nearly 2-to-1 advantage with the group. Harris also has strong support from voters across various categories, from whites and blacks to those who identify as strongly liberal, are middle-aged and have household incomes of $40,000, or more.

Sanchez, meantime, continues to do well with Latinos and voters under the age of 40.

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

Related stories from Sacramento Bee