Poll makes case for Latino U.S. Senate candidate

Having a Latino run to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2016 would energize California’s pro-Democrat Latino electorate, according to a poll commissioned by the Golden States’s Latino lawmakers.

“One of the goals of the Latino Caucus is to develop avenues that empower the Latino community all across the state of California,” Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, who chairs the California Latino Legislative Caucus, said in a news release. “This survey shows that a viable Latino candidate would generate enthusiasm and increase turnout among Latino voters, which would help Democrats across the board.”

The survey is meant to take air from the sails of Attorney General Kamala Harris, who so far is the only declared candidate in the race. The Latino lawmakers’ poll – conducted Jan. 27-29 by the Garin Hart Yang Research Group among 600 likely voters statewide – found Harris has a strong head start among Democrats.

“But her advantage over her potential opponents is far from overwhelming given that she has been on the statewide ballot TWICE since 2010,” the poll memo concluded. “Given the fluidity that is typical of primary elections and a constituency that has not voted in strong numbers but has the potential to be energized, there is real potential here for a credible Latino candidate.”

Harris has never taken any campaign for granted, campaign manager Brian Brokaw said Tuesday.

“She has won statewide office in California twice since 2010 by assembling a coalition of voters that represents the diversity of the largest state in the country, and that is exactly how she intends to win election to the U.S. Senate,” he said. “As the daughter of immigrants and a champion on so many of the issues facing California’s Latino population — homeowner protections, immigrants’ rights, environmental justice, combating gang crime, fighting elementary school truancy — she looks forward to once again earning the support of the state’s Latino population and representing all Californians in the Senate.”

The poll found that in a four-way hypothetical matchup, Republican Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin got 31 percent of the vote, Harris got 28 percent, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa got 18 percent, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, got 4 percent and 19 percent were undecided. Among Latinos considering that same field, Villaraigosa got 44 percent, Harris got 20 percent, Swearengin got 17 percent, Schiff got 5 percent and 14 percent were undecided.

But that matchup posits only one Latino candidate in the field, while several have expressed interest in running. The poll also found Villaraigosa has 66 percent name recognition while Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, has 46 percent, Secretary of State Alex Padilla has 41 percent and Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Los Angeles, has 25 percent. Harris clocked in at 62 percent name recognition.

Assemblywoman Nora Campos, D-San Jose, another Latino caucus member, said this race has importance beyond the candidates themselves. “An exciting race can generate enthusiasm among voters that have not been energized in years. We need only look at the last election to see what happens when we had low excitement at the top of the ticket – we had record low-turnout.”

Sure, true. But that was a midterm election in which the governor’s race was a snooze. 2016 will be a presidential election, and while that might be a fait accompli in California – in the Democratic primary if Hillary Clinton has already run away with it in earlier states, and in the general given that California will go to whoever the Democratic nominee is – it undoubtedly will have a much bigger and more diverse turnout than 2014 no matter who’s running for Senate.

Side note for political nerds: Brokaw, Harris’ campaign manager, some years ago had worked for the now-defunct Acosta/Salazar media relations, campaign management and public affairs firm. Roger Salazar’s clients now include the California Latino Legislative Caucus.


Taking sides: This week’s endorsement roundup

We’ve got a few hot races to watch even though it’s January of an off year (as if we have any off years anymore), and the endorsements have been coming hot and heavy this week.


U.S. Senate 2016

Kamala Harris (D) – Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson (1/26); Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael (1/27); Los Angeles District Attorney Jackie Lacey (1/27); San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (1/28); Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (1/29); Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia (1/30)


7th State Senate District special election

Susan Bonilla (D) – AFSCME Council 57 and Local 2700 (1/26); International Brotherhood of Boilermakers (1/27); California Professional Firefighters (1/28); Concord Democratic Club (1/29)

Joan Buchanan (D) – California Teachers Association (1/27)


Follow after the jump for a few thoughts on these…
Continue Reading


Kamala Harris endorsed by LA’s Herb Wesson

California Attorney General Kamala Harris announced Monday that Los Angeles City Council President Herb Wesson has endorsed her candidacy for the U.S. Senate in 2016 – perhaps a shot across the bow of another prominent Los Angeles political figure who’s considering getting into the race, too.

“She took on the Wall Street banks and delivered for Californians,” Wesson said in Harris’ news release. “She’s fought elementary school truancy and for the right of children to receive a first-class education. And she’ll continue to be a champion for working and middle class families across California and the nation.”

This endorsement seems aimed at highlighting Harris’ connections and popularity in Los Angeles, where former Assembly Speaker and former Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is mulling whether to run against her to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer in 2016.

LA’s huge cache of votes is key to winning any statewide election, and Harris – a Bay Area native – worked hard to build relationships down there when running for attorney general in 2010 against then-Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley.

Harris on Monday said Wesson – also a former Assembly speaker – “has served his city, county and state so effectively for more than two decades, and I look forward to continuing our work together in the years to come.”


Mike Honda endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

The big U.S. Senate 2016 news du jour is that hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer won’t be in the race, but meanwhile, California Attorney General Kamala Harris – the only person to declare candidacy so far – continues rolling out endorsements.

Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose, on Thursday joined his Bay Area peers Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, and Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin, in backing Harris to succeed U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

“As a leader in protecting the privacy rights of consumers, preserving California’s environment, and fighting for women’s rights, Kamala is the best candidate to carry on the legacy of our great Senator Barbara Boxer,” Honda said in a news release. “Kamala and I share a deep passion for many of the issues important to California families, and I look forward to continuing our work together when Attorney General Harris becomes our newest Senator.”

Harris said she and Honda “have enjoyed a long partnership on many important issues such as combating domestic violence, improving public safety, and protecting civil rights for all Americans. I look forward to continuing our work together.”


Eric Swalwell endorses Kamala Harris for Senate

Rep. Eric Swalwell, the East Bay congressman who’d sent up a trial balloon last week about running for the U.S. Senate seat that Barbara Boxer will vacate in 2016, instead endorsed California Attorney General Kamala Harris for that seat Wednesday.

“From her days as a prosecutor in the Alameda County D.A.’s office through her time as California Attorney General, Kamala has been an innovative and effective leader on so many issues facing Californians — crime prevention, consumer protections, environmental preservation, and strengthening public education,” said Swalwell, D-Dublin, who also was an Alameda County prosecutor. “I look forward to campaigning alongside Kamala and working together on behalf of the next generation of Californians.”

Swalwell, 34, who has just begun his second House term, will serve Harris’ campaign as chairman of Young Professionals outreach, spearheading young voter organizing and fundraising efforts. Harris said he’s “an incredibly hard-working and effective representative of his East Bay constituents in Congress, and I am grateful to have him by my side in this campaign.”


A third U.S. Senator supports Kamala Harris

A third U.S. Senator has lent her support to California Attorney General Kamala Harris’ bid to succeed Barbara Boxer in 2016.

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., sent an email to supporters Friday morning saying that if they don’t know Harris yet, they will soon.

“Kamala’s awesome record speaks for itself: She’s been a fierce advocate for women and children, common sense gun safety reform, and equal opportunity for all Americans,” Gillibrand wrote. “She’s exactly the kind of leader we need in the Senate – but she’ll have to fight every single day to get there.”

The email included a fundraising plea, with a goal of $35,000 by midnight Friday to “get Kamala off to the strong start she needs,” Gillibrand added. “Kamala has had a slew of firsts: the first woman, first African American, and first South Asian to be elected as California’s attorney general. I have no doubt she’s up to the challenge ahead. I am truly thrilled Kamala’s in this race – and I hope you’ll join me in supporting her today.”

Gillibrand’s email follows support from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., who tweeted out a fundraising plea:

…and from U.S. Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., who did the same:

Harris also Friday rolled out an endorsement from California Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins, D-San Diego. “From her relentless advocacy for California homeowners, to her innovative crime fighting strategies as California’s top cop, Kamala is exactly what California needs to carry on the strong legacy and powerful example set by Barbara Boxer,” Atkins said.

Boxer announced last Thursday that her current, fourth six-year term will be her last. Harris, 50, who was just sworn into her second term as California’s “top cop,” declared her candidacy Tuesday.

Hedge fund billionaire and environmental activist Tom Steyer, 57, a Democrat from San Francisco, seems likelier than not to enter the race. Others who’ve said they’re considering the race include Democratic former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove; Rep. Eric Swalwell, D-Dublin; and former California Republican Party chairmen Tom Del Beccaro of Lafayette and Duf Sundheim of Los Gatos Hills.

UPDATE @ 2:07 P.M.: Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, is about to email out her own fundraising plea on Harris’ behalf.

“I am proud to tell you that I enthusiastically endorse her candidacy, and will do everything in my power to help her cross the finish line,” Lee wrote in the email, citing Harris’ progressive credentials including her championing a Homeowners’ Bill of Rights; protecting consumers from identify theft and predatory lending; and as district attorney, creating special units to tackle hate crimes and environmental protection. “Kamala is exactly the kind of tough progressive we need fighting for California in Washington.”