Party and Interest Group Support

While the California Senate race is historic, it is seemingly not very interesting. On one hand, you have an open seat in the largest state in the country in several decades, but on the other hand you have a guaranteed win for the Democrats, as both women running are from the same party. The top-two primary system might have made the race an intersting study for the primary, but at this point, the attention of the press is waning, with most new stories talking about how uninteresting the race has become.

As the front-runner, Kamala Harris leads in both fundraising and endorsements, most recently adding retiring senator Barbara Boxer to her list of endorsements. Moreover, Harris had raised more than $8 million more than Loretta Sanchez when the two last filed finance reports at the end of June. Significantly, nearly all spending by outside groups has supported Harris.

While the race has not been targeted nationally since it is a safe Democratic seat, the state party recently came under fire for funding attack ads against Sanchez. The critique was based on the assertion that the state party organization should be focused on supporting down-ballot contests where Democrats are facing opposition. This could be seen as a call for the political establishment to focus on party rather than individual victories; however, the fact that both congresswomen registering their dissatisfaction have endorsed Sanchez might also have something to do with it.

As the party favorite, Harris has also received $118,000 from leadership PACs, while Sanchez has received no such insider support. Ultimately, Sanchez faces a disadvantage since the endorsements of several Democratic leaders seem to have brought with them the interest groups and industries with the deepest pockets. Finally, when it comes to outside expenditures, the groups that are supporting Sanchez have a distinct Republican allegiance.



4 thoughts on “Party and Interest Group Support”

  1. I am surprised that the Democratic Party in California would launch attack ads against a member of their own party. It looks like this top-two primary system can, especially in solid red or blue states, cause contention within the party. Do you think this might discourage Democrats from showing up to the polls in November?


    1. I think this election will see pretty low turnout among Democrats since there is a lack of motivation based on the fact that voters are sure a Democrat will win. I’m not sure how much the negativity adds to that fact. An interesting counterbalance is the presidential elections, which always draw more voters out. When you already have a ballot in your hand, why not vote down ballot? Definitely an interesting idea!


      1. I can’t remember if I shared this article previously – but it argues that the turnout issue in these kinds of contests may particularly be among the minority party. I wonder if a counterpoint for Democrats is that they’ll know their party will win no matter what – so maybe that gives them a boost? I suspect some grad student somewhere is building her dissertation on this weird new system. 🙂


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