State elections: Kamala Harris, Barbara Lee, Tony Thurmond win; Nancy Skinner leads

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris wins U.S. Senate race

California Attorney General Kamala Harris won the U.S. Senate race with almost 78 percent of the vote Tuesday night as of press time at 11:20 p.m., defeating U.S. Rep. and fellow Democrat Loretta Sanchez, D-Orange.

California’s race marked the first time that voters chose between two Democratic candidates — with no Republican on the ballot — to serve in the U.S. Senate.

Harris will be taking over the seat from U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer, who has represented California since 1993, serving on the Ethics, Foreign Relations and Environmental and Public Works committees. She announced her retirement in January 2015.

Harris was heavily favored to win her race. She was endorsed by President Barack Obama, Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Democratic Party.

Harris has served as attorney general since 2011. Previously, she was district attorney for San Francisco. She has received national attention, speaking at the 2012 Democratic National Convention and publishing a book on criminal justice reform called “Smart on Crime.”

There was speculation that Obama would nominate Harris to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death earlier this year. Harris publicly removed herself from consideration to focus on her Senate run.

Rep. Barbara Lee wins House seat

Incumbent Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Oakland, will maintain her position as Congress member for California’s District 13 after defeating her Republican opponent Sue Caro in the election Tuesday night with almost 90 percent of the vote as of press time at 11:20 p.m.

California’s District 13 includes parts of Alameda County and San Francisco County. Lee, a UC Berkeley alumna and Democratic politician, has represented the East Bay for 18 years. She was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1998 and represented District 9 until 2012, when she was then elected as the Congress member for California’s District 13.

Prior to her position in the House, Lee represented California’s District 13 and 16 in the state Assembly, from 1990 to 1992 and 1992 to 1996, respectively.

Lee’s platform includes promoting peace, increasing funding for higher education and addressing income inequality. Lee was the only representative in Congress who voted against authorizing military force after 9/11. While she was a member of the education funding subcommittee, Lee worked to ensure that students could receive a university education without debt.

Lee was endorsed by the California School Employees Association, the National Women’s Political Caucus, the Oakland East Bay Democratic Club and the National Nurses United political action committee.

Nancy Skinner leads in race for state Senate seat

Nancy Skinner was leading her opponent Sandré Swanson with almost 62 percent of the vote as of press time at 11:20 p.m. with 50 percent reporting for the open state Senate seat for California’s District 9 on Tuesday night.

California’s District 9 encompasses parts of Alameda County and Contra Costa County. Former senator Loni Hancock held the seat for eight years but termed out this year, leaving her position open for the election.

Skinner has held multiple political positions in the past. When she was a UC Berkeley graduate student in 1984, she was elected to the Berkeley City Council the first and only student ever to serve on the council.

She also represented District 15 in the state Assembly from 2008 to 2014 and served as the budget chair, increasing funding for both preschools and UC schools. Her platform includes increasing investment in both primary and higher education, addressing income inequality and promoting environmental protection.

Skinner was endorsed by former U.S. secretary of labor Robert Reich, Berkeley Mayor Tom Bates and the majority of Berkeley City Council. She was also endorsed by the Berkeley Federation of Teachers Local 1078 and the Berkeley Police Association.

Assemblymember Tony Thurmond wins district seat

Democratic incumbent Tony Thurmond was re-elected to California’s 15th Assembly District on Tuesday, beating Republican contender Claire Chiara with almost 91 percent of the vote as of press time at 11:20 p.m.

Thurmond, who was first elected as Assembly member in 2014, intends to increase investment toward universal preschool, take steps to protect the environment and boost the number of computer literacy programs at California schools.

Additionally, Thurmond said he will work to build on on bills he has already passed while also expanding programs for those who are homeless or who have mental disabilities.

During his tenure as Assembly member, Thurmond has made strides in prioritizing education, the environment and income equity. In addition to helping increase UC and California State University system funding as well as shutting down thousands of oil wells leaching into the water supplies, Thurmond co-wrote a greenhouse gas reduction plan that would reduce levels by 40 percent in 2020 and introduced legislation to increase the state minimum wage.

Chiara, a senior at UC Berkeley, announced her intent to run for the district Assembly seat in an effort to give Republicans in the area the opportunity to vote for a candidate of their party. Although she acknowledged that her chances of winning were slim, Chiara ran to be a voice for those who she felt were not heard in the state and federal government.

Contact Chantelle Lee, Anna Sturla and Revati Thatte at [email protected].

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