Harris tempts challengers with ‘blood sport’ politics

Kamala-Harris-handsAttributing her success to a “blood sport” view of politics, California Attorney General Kamala Harris has established herself as the leading contender to replace Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., who is retiring in Jan. 2017.

“I always start my campaigns early, and I run hard,” Harris told the New York Times. “Maybe it comes from the rough-and-tumble world of San Francisco politics, where it’s not even a contact sport — it’s a blood sport. This is how I am as a candidate. This is how I run campaigns.”

But that attitude has helped set up what could be a difficult dynamic for Harris in her quest for the Senate.

She has cleared away key potential competitors from Northern California, such as Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who has opted to run for governor in 2018. But Harris has not dispatched credible Democratic contenders in the Southland, including Rep. Adam Schiff of Burbank, Rep. Xavier Becerra of Los Angeles and Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Garden Grove. Then there are potential Republican contenders, such as Assemblyman Rocky Chávez of Oceanside.

For years, Southern Californian Democrats have chafed at what many have seen as an excessive degree of dominance within the state party by San Francisco and Sacramento-area members, including Boxer and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, both from Marin County; and Gov. Jerry Brown, the former mayor of Oakland.

A wide-open field

Harris’ aggressive approach to political advancement has helped knock one nationally recognized L.A. Latino out of the Senate scramble. Former L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa bailed out of contention late in February.

“I know that my heart and my family are here in California, not Washington, D.C.,” he said in a statement posted to Facebook. “I have decided not to run for the U.S. Senate and instead continue my efforts to make California a better place to live, work and raise a family.” Villaraigosa’s decision was seen as signaling greater interest in pursuing a bid for governor.

Even though Villaraigosa himself was seen as one of Harris’ most formidable would-be rivals, his weaknesses as a candidate were far greater than other Southern California Latinos currently weighing serious Senate bids. Villaraigosa struggled with personal scandal and an embarrassingly rough landing after leaving office, when he had to scrounge for lucrative work through personal connections and the strength of his name recognition.

Ironically, that opened the field for others to challenge Harris. The kind of travails Villaraigosa faced haven’t been a problem for Harris’ most likely Latino challengers. Schiff, Becerra and Sanchez have “been waiting for colleagues to retire so they can move up, and they still face the constant threat that even after biding their time, rivals could outmaneuver them,” the Los Angeles Times reported.

“But with scant hope that Democrats could seize control of the House next year, they are also stuck in the relatively powerless minority. Democrats stand a better chance of retaking the Senate, so the potential leap may be that much more tempting.”

Meanwhile, noted the Times, Harris still hasn’t made an impression on more than half of California’s registered voters, according to a poll conducted with USC Dornsife.

Pressure on the right

Despite expressing strong interest, neither Becerra nor Sanchez officially has declared their candidacy. For now, that gives an advantage to Chávez, the only other candidate to declare after Harris.

And within the California GOP, as the Sacramento Bee observed, his “résumé and standing as a state legislator make him the most prominent Republican among those weighing bids. A former city councilman in Oceanside, he spent nearly three decades in the Marines and later served as acting secretary to the state Department of Veterans Affairs.”

Chávez’s political positioning also has raised hurdles for other Republicans considering a run. “He supports gay marriage and has chided members of his own party for blocking immigration reform,” noted the Bee. “He opposes abortion rights, however, a position he attributes to his Catholic upbringing.”

Running to the left or the right of Chávez could pose problems for GOP rivals. That could inspire the state party to rally around him relatively early. Although not an electoral cure-all, California Republicans could score a perceived coup by fielding a Latino candidate against Harris.

“A lot of things can happen on the way to a coronation,” Chávez recently told the New York Times.


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  1. desmond
    desmond 31 March, 2015, 16:01

    A worthy for, that is Kumala.

    Reply this comment
  2. Dork
    Dork 31 March, 2015, 19:31

    Harris still hasn’t made an impression on more than half of California’s registered voters

    Not exactly, There are Lots of people that will never forget when she turned a blind eye to the outright CRIMINAL FRAUD perpetrated by Major Banks in California, she should have been removed and disbarred then. And if anyone doesn’t know about besides me, you are just plain STUPID.

    Reply this comment
    • bob
      bob 31 March, 2015, 21:03

      There isn’t one Colliefornia (as Ahnode sez) politician who isn’t a disgusting, lying, criminal gangster.

      Reply this comment
    • maximilian
      maximilian 1 April, 2015, 15:15

      Dork, you are correct and I do remember. But, then I remember a good deal about our state AG and her curriculum vitae. Basically, follow the money (read: unions) and you’ll always know where KH stands on the issues. Of course, in today’s Chronicle, Matier & Ross reveal another of her Machiavellian tendencies; protect women who are close to you, no matter how guilty they are. http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/Kamala-Harris-backtracks-on-claim-accusing-U-S-6171444.php

      My goal remains the same: Prevent KH from getting the Boxer seat.

      Reply this comment
      • Dork
        Dork 1 April, 2015, 19:04

        I am glad people remember, and I hope and pray that her challenger makes it the Single Most Important campaign issue,and absolutely hammers her with FACTS regarding her outright corruption. She should still be Dis-Barred

        Reply this comment
  3. bob
    bob 31 March, 2015, 21:02

    She is a disgusting creature…although I am glad Bellalugosi….er….Viaraghosti…isn’t running.

    Reply this comment
  4. Bill Gore
    Bill Gore 1 April, 2015, 08:19

    Harris is grotesque. Voters are tired of mean girlz, even if she is ‘kinda’ black. Newsome: Mr. Nice Guy…..

    Reply this comment
  5. Hondo
    Hondo 1 April, 2015, 20:27

    Kamala’s relationship with former speaker Brown comes offly close to prostitution. She wasn’t married to Willie so nepotism wasn’t in effect when Willie appointed her to a couple high paying jobs. If that wasn’t nepotism it has to be prostitution. Either way, Kamala would lose to a well financed candidate with sharp elbows. This is a blood sport she could lose badly.

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 3 April, 2015, 14:06

      Shame on you! Another’s personal relationship is none of your business! Don’t waste your time–she is not going to lose.

      Reply this comment
  6. Hondo
    Hondo 3 April, 2015, 23:51

    Shame on you Sesaw for supporting the degradation of women to where the only way they can get ahead in life is to ‘bleep’ their way to the top.
    Nepotism is immoral and I believe it is a crime in California. Jerry Brown would never appoint his sister or girlfriend (Linda Ronstadt) or his wife to a high paying govt job.
    The Speaker of the house of California appointing his girlfriend to a high paying govt job IS my business. Think of all the women, and Hispanics and black men who didn’t get the job because they didn’t have sex with Speaker Brown.
    Shame on you Sesaw for supporting the degradation of women.

    Reply this comment
    • SeeSaw
      SeeSaw 4 April, 2015, 20:46

      Oh, are you silly! KH was qualified for the position–she did not have to provide special favors. You meant to say, “cronyism” because she was not his wife or sister. I got news for you–it exists in all work sectors and is a fact of life you must deal with. I have witnessed it in my own work–I do not object to the practice if the beneficiary is qualified for the position. As far as any relationship between WB and KH, I don’t know anything and neither do you. Its none of our business. Of course JB would not appoint Linda Ronstadt to a government job–she was an entertainer, vocalist and a darn good one–not a politician.

      Reply this comment
  7. desmond
    desmond 5 April, 2015, 16:37

    What a great movie title, “Kumala”!

    Reply this comment

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