Much has been made of the brewing squabble in the Democratic Party over selection of a candidate to replace Barbara Boxer in the United States Senate. The Latino Caucus revealed a poll it commissioned suggesting a Latino candidate would energize Latino voters, a key voting demographic. Members of the caucus said Latinos were being slighted by the perceived “coronation” of Attorney General Kamala Harris as the senator in waiting.
As George Skelton’s Los Angeles Times column on the brouhaha was headlined yesterday, “All-Powerful Democrats Find New Adversaries: Each Other.”
If the tiff widens, is there an opportunity for a Republican Latino to make some noise?
It may be good politics for a frontrunner to try and clear the field of opponents, but as I have already commented, clearing the field for an open senate seat in the most populous and most important state in the union is a dis-service to the state’s residents.
If a prominent Democratic Latino doesn’t enter the race, a Republican Latino may see an opportunity to rally Latinos. Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is said to be considering the possibility. Former U.S. Treasurer Rosario Marin might try again, making an earlier unsuccessful bid for the senate. The political dynamics might be better for her now than a decade ago. Former Lt. Governor Abel Maldonado is a possibility. As is Ruben Barrales, head of Grow Elect, an organization geared to recruit Republican candidates. Barrales served as a county supervisor and was the local government liaison in the Bush 43 White House before heading the San Diego Chamber of Commerce.
Of course, there is another way to consider the row among the Democrats. Republican consultant Rob Stutzman said, “I think the intramural spats among the California Democrats has as much to do with regional politics as it does with racial politics.”
Northern California has certainly overshadowed Southern California in holding prominent statewide elected positions with the governor, lieutenant governor, both U.S. senators, the attorney general, controller, insurance commissioner and superintendent of public instruction all hailing from Northern California.
However, Stutzman raised another issue if identity politics come to define the senate race. Another potential schism within the party might develop with Asian Americans. He recalled the divisions that occurred when Asian Americans revolted against a quota bill on University of California admissions that was designed to benefit other minority groups.
In fact, Stutzman believes Republicans might be best served if an Asian American candidate runs for the senate seat. Asian American Republicans have done well, especially in Orange County, of late. One possibility he suggested: newly elected Orange County Board of Supervisor member Michelle Steele who would have a free ride in the 2016 election.
There is a reality in politics, which is why the discussion over ethnic politics occurs. May the best person win to represent the people of California.