In a race to fill the state’s first open U.S. Senate seat in 24 years, Kamala Harris and Loretta Sanchez will advance to November’s general election.
Harris, who was declared the candidate with the most votes Tuesday night, currently serves as California Attorney General. Runner-up Sanchez serves as Congress member for California’s 46th district. Leading up to the primary election, polls showed Harris and Sanchez with significant leads over the other candidates.
“It’s exciting to see the race being dominated by two experienced and qualified democratic women, one of whom will be our Senator,” said CalSERVE Senator Rigel Robinson in an email.
State Senate hopeful Nancy Skinner said she expected the Alameda County area to vote strongly for Harris, as Harris has strong roots in Berkeley, where she grew up. After graduating from law school, she began working in the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, specializing in prosecuting child sexual assault cases.
Harris collected about 64 percent of the votes in Alameda County reported as of press time, as compared to the 11 percent collected by Sanchez.
The election is unique, in that for the first time, no Republican will be represented in the general elections for the Senate seat. The seat will be vacated by U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer when she retires at the end of her current term.
In 2010, the state of California adopted the top two primary system under Proposition 14, which advances the top two vote-getters regardless of their party affiliation.
“The election demonstrates that Proposition 14 is an abject failure,” said U.S. Senate candidate Tom Del Beccaro who trailed the two winners in fourth place with 4.4 percent of the vote as of press time. “It’s not clear to me how voters will react in the fall to a lack of choice.”
Del Beccaro was one of 34 candidates that competed in the California U.S. Senate primary election.
Eric Schickler, a campus political science professor, noted that with so many candidates running in the Senate primary, there was a lot of unpredictability going into voting.
“Two Democrats could end up being the nominees,” Schickler said ahead of results. He added that Harris had garnered significant support, according to polls, and that many expected her to snag the most votes.
Jose Diaz, president of Berkeley College Republicans, expressed frustration at the overwhelming Democratic majority in the state of California.
“I’d like to see a Republican, me being a Republican,” Diaz said.
Three Republicans, including Duf Sundheim, Phil Wyman and Del Beccaro, trailed the two winners with percentages of votes in the single digits as of press time.
Emory Rodgers, a Democratic candidate who ran in the primary election as a progressive Democrat, sought to use Bernie Sanders’ model to gain traction over social media and raise campaign funds, according to his campaign manager Max Smerling.
Rodgers garnered a low percentage of votes in the election — less than 1 percent. His platforms focused on income inequality, living wage and homelessness.
“He was inspired by Bernie to get in the race. He is running almost hand in hand with him in the issues,” Smerling said. “He wanted to get in the race to change the conversation.”
In total, seven Democrats, 12 Republicans, one member of the Green Party, two Libertarians, one member of the Peace and Freedom party and 11 independents ran for one of the two spots on the ballot.
General elections will take place Nov. 8.
Contact Kailey Ramage-Martinez and Suhauna Hussain at [email protected].