Kamala Harris Snags Key Democratic Endorsement

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Attorney General Kamala Harris won an overwhelming endorsement from delegates at the State Democratic Party Convention this weekend in San Jose.  (Scott Shafer/KQED)

U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris won a resounding 78 percent of delegates' votes at the state Democratic Party convention in San Jose Saturday, far surpassing the 60 percent needed to win the official endorsement. Her opponent, Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez trailed badly with just 19 percent of the vote. The rest preferred "no endorsement."

The endorsement gives Harris, who already leads in polls and fundraising, an even bigger advantage in the June 7 primary. Among other things, she'll get to use the party's endorsement in ads, literature and slate cards. But Harris will also benefit from party resources used to mobilize and convince Democrats in the primary.

"I'm incredibly honored to have the endorsement of the California Democratic Party in the U.S. Senate race," Harris said in a written statement, "and I'm so proud of the support our campaign has received from every corner of our state. We know there is more that unites us than divides us, and I'm grateful to the Californians who joined together to send that message this weekend."

Harris traveled the state in recent weeks to lock down delegates' support.


Sanchez, who is still recovering from a string of gaffes and statements that offended Muslims and Native Americans, issued a statement saying the fight was just beginning.

"Make no mistake, today’s vote was not the primary," said Sanchez spokesman Luis Vizcaino said. "Congresswoman Sanchez is on track to be one of two candidates in the general election where the electoral dynamics change in her favor. We look forward to campaigning across California, the upcoming debates and a November victory for Loretta Sanchez."

The top two finishers in the June primary will move on to November, regardless of their party affiliation. While polls have shown Harris and Sanchez one and two, Republicans aren't conceding.

In fact, one candidate, former Republican Party Chair Duf Sundheim, showed up at the convention in San Jose this weekend shaking hands and talking up his campaign.

"I've had several invitations today from college students to come speak to their groups," he said. It was a bold, if unorthodox move by a Republican candidate apparently determined to set himself apart from a national party alienating large swaths of voters, including Latinos.