Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, will square off in November for the right to succeed the retiring Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate.
Harris and Sanchez dominated a crowded field of 34 candidates in Tuesday's primary election to advance in the race for the state's first open U.S. Senate seat in more than 20 years. Harris easily led the field, while Sanchez declared victory around 10 p.m. in her bid for the second spot in the November general election.
"Tonight California spoke and it said that we are a state that is unified," Harris said. "We are clear of purpose. Our unity is our strength and our diversity is our power. And I am just thrilled. We have worked so hard. ... I am a proud daughter of California and I could not be more proud than tonight. When I look at who spoke ... in this very important election, it was about all of us together -- African-American, Latino, Asian, Caucasian, LGBT."
Speaking to supporters gathered in Anaheim, Sanchez thanked the crowd for their backing and urged them to stay with her through November.
"It's been an exciting campaign and we're getting ready for round two, so we need all -- all of you, all of you -- to be with us," she said.
Later, she told reporters she had a hectic election day, meeting with voters.
"Everywhere I've gone, I couldn't even go and get lunch because everybody was like, `We voted for you, we voted for you.' Of course, I'm in Orange County, it's my home turf. But remember it's also not that easy to win as a Democrat in Orange County, so we're optimistic."
Harris has been considered a front-runner in the campaign since she threw her hat in the ring shortly after Boxer announced last year she would be leaving the seat she has held since 1992. She has vowed to be a strong proponent for the middle class, women's rights and immigrants.
"No student should think they can't go to college because it costs too much," Harris said earlier. "No woman should be told she can't make her own decisions about her body. No person should live in the shadows because Washington can't pass comprehensive immigration reform. No hard-working American should believe they can't find a job that will support their family."
Harris scored the endorsement recently of Gov. Jerry Brown, and has been backed by a laundry list of elected officials, including Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
Sanchez, who has served in Congress for more than 19 years, and said her experience in Washington, D.C., makes her the ideal replacement for Boxer.
"California needs an experienced and proven leader to tackle the full range of economic, educational and security challenges we face today," she told CNS. "Our next U.S. Senator must have extensive legislative and national security experience and share life experiences of working people."
She stressed she is the only candidate in the race with national security experience, noting her service on the House Armed Services Committee and Homeland Security Committee that makes her "well-versed in issues of defense, foreign relations and national security -- issues that a U.S. Senator must be familiar with if they are to cast votes to confirm presidential appointments or ratify treaties."