Capitol Alert

Loretta Sanchez ducks first U.S. Senate debate with Kamala Harris

U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez walks away from press

Chinyere Nnodim Jack, a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Patterson, talks about U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, who walked away from press after she spoke with TV Venezuela, a U.S.-based station in Philade
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Chinyere Nnodim Jack, a Hillary Clinton delegate to the Democratic National Convention from Patterson, talks about U.S. Senate candidate Loretta Sanchez, who walked away from press after she spoke with TV Venezuela, a U.S.-based station in Philade

Despite saying she wanted plenty of U.S. Senate debates, Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s campaign consultants have not responded to a formal request from media partners, including The Sacramento Bee, which was first issued in June.

Democrat Kamala Harris’ frontrunner campaign for the state’s first open Senate seat in 24 years announced early this month she would participate in the proposed Sept. 20 debate. In addition to The Bee, the sponsors were KUVS Univision 19, KVIE, Capital Public Radio and California State University, Sacramento.

The media partners sent both campaigns a proposed format on Aug. 15 and asked for a response by the close of business Monday to allow about four weeks to plan the event. Her campaign did not respond or return messages left Tuesday.

Sanchez’s refusal to communicate runs counter to earlier statements made by her chief campaign strategist, Bill Carrick.

After Harris agreed to participate in the Sept. 20 debate, as well as an Oct. 5 event in Los Angeles on KABC, Carrick in a prepared statement on Aug. 5 accused Harris of “arrogantly” announcing her plans, adding, “Now is the time for Kamala Harris to prove she is fearless by agreeing to more than just two U.S. Senate debates.”

Since then, Sanchez’s campaign has been nonresponsive to phone calls and messages left by debate organizers. On Tuesday, Harris’ consultant, Sean Clegg, said, “It’s not just disappointing – it’s completely disingenuous.”

“After demanding debates, Loretta Sanchez has now killed the leading debate proposed by our capital’s flagship newspaper,” Clegg said. “The only conclusion we can draw is that the Loretta Sanchez campaign is not serious about debates or anything else.”

Sanchez, the underdog in the race, has a history of making impolitic statements, most recently suggesting in a Spanish-language interview that President Obama endorsed Harris in part because they are both black. She ducked the media last month at the Democratic National Convention.

Later Tuesday, Sanchez went on Carl DeMaio’s San Diego-based radio show and said she was willing to sit out both debates Harris agreed to in order to push for more events.

When DeMaio pressed Sanchez on the possibility of having no debates should she not agree to either of the two, she responded: “If I get nothing, I get nothing.”

Christopher Cadelago: 916-326-5538, @ccadelago

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