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Senate Fundraising Reports Confirm Kamala Harris Is the One to Beat

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California Attorney General Kamala Harris. (Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Variety/2014 Photo)

A cursory look at fundraising data from the fourth quarter of 2015 confirms what polls and endorsements have shown from the start: California's attorney general, Democrat Kamala Harris, is the person to beat in the race to replace retiring U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

In its filing with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the Harris campaign reports having raised nearly $2 million from individuals, PACs and other sources in the last four months of 2015. She has nearly $4 million in the bank with the June 7 primary a little over four months away.


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That’s about twice as much cash on hand as her closest competitor, Democratic Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez, has amassed. Her campaign reports having raised $865,031 the last quarter, with $2.1 million in the bank. But that includes a $300,000 loan from the candidate last year and $475,000 in transfers from other campaign-related committees.


The leading Republican in the latest Field Poll, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez from San Diego, reports raising just $14,101, with a paltry $369 left to spend.

Former GOP Party Chair Duf Sundheim hauled in $59,656 in the last quarter, leaving him with $69,683 cash on hand. The FEC report from a third Republican candidate, Tom Del Beccaro, was not immediately available.

Harris is widely considered a rising star on the national scene, with close ties to President Obama and other party leaders. She's also a prolific fundraiser by national U.S. Senate campaign standards.

But with those high expectations come closer scrutiny. Harris and her campaign were put on the defensive by national reports last month highlighting an extremely high "burn rate" of campaign cash, with stays in posh hotels costing up to $1,886 a night, expensive airplane tickets and luxury ground travel. The campaign has also had its share of turmoil, with turnover in top management.

But the race is clearly Harris' to lose. The latest Field Poll showed 27 percent of likely voters supporting Harris, while 15 percent preferred Sanchez. Three Republican candidates were in single digits, while 44 percent said they were undecided.

If numbers like those hold and the two Democrats finish in the top two in the June 7 primary, it would set up a first-ever all Democratic runoff in November. That would set up a fascinating appeal by two Democrats to California's moderate and conservative voters, a prospect that would make the state's U.S. Senate race a focus of national attention.

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