In the Democrat-against-Democrat U.S. Senate race, state Attorney General Kamala Harris emerged as the victor over rival Rep. Loretta Sanchez Tuesday night.
Harris will replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer. Boxer is a liberal icon who is stepping down after nearly a quarter century in the U.S. Senate.
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The Senate contest marked a generational and demographic shift in the state that is growing increasingly diverse in population and favorable for Democrats.
The Democrats-only race marks the first time since voters started electing senators a century ago that Republicans will be absent from California’s general election ballot, reaffirming the GOP’s diminished stature in the state.
Boxer, who turns 76 this week, will be replaced by one of two Baby Boomers.
Harris, 52, could become the first Indian woman and the second black woman elected to the Senate. Harris’ father is Jamaican and her mother is from India.
If 56-year-old Sanchez pulls off an upset, the daughter of Mexican immigrants could become one of the first Latinas to hold a U.S. Senate seat.
The matchup between Harris and Sanchez is seen as a harbinger of things to come in the nation’s most populous state. Voters could increasingly find only two Democrats to pick from for top offices in November elections.
Despite its historic dimension, the Harris vs. Sanchez contest was overshadowed by the race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump and ignored by many voters, especially Republicans who ended up without a candidate. And as two Democrats they largely agree on many issues, including the need to fight climate change and protect abortion rights.
The two Democrats emerged from a 34-candidate primary in June, in which only the top two vote-getters advanced to November. None of the Republicans managed to break out of single digits in voting.