Six months ago, former Assembly Member Sarah Reyes was undecided in the U.S. Senate race to replace the retiring Barbara Boxer.
The Fresno Democrat said her pick between Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, would come down to which one would do something for the Central Valley. Which one who wouldn’t simply “talk from a distance on what they are going to do for the Valley, but come in here and actually talk to real people.”
Now, the choice is clear, Reyes said. She’s endorsed Sanchez.
Since May, when Reyes said she would be watching, Sanchez has made multiple central San Joaquin Valley visits, including coming to town for the Veteran’s Day parade earlier this month. She’s also personally called Reyes and sought her advice and input on local issues.
“She has spent time talking to a variety of folks in the communities, not just in Fresno but all around the Central Valley,” Reyes said of Sanchez. “And not just pomp and circumstance. It's been getting to know people and understand the issues. I haven't seen that from the attorney general.”
Reyes wasn’t Sanchez’s only recent local endorsement. Former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante – a Valley native who now lives in Elk Grove – and Sanchez’s House colleague, Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, have also endorsed her over Harris.
In a statement released through Sanchez’s campaign, Costa said he’s backing Sanchez because of her support for water and transportation infrastructure investment, and because she “understands the importance of our farming families, farm workers, and our farm communities.”
Reyes said Sanchez has talked with Costa about water, farming and agriculture. Sanchez has also met with farmers, developers and regular citizens locally.
“She really has done her due diligence on the Central Valley,” Reyes said.
On paper, at least, it appears Sanchez would be a better fit than Harris for the region. Sanchez is part of the centrist Blue Dog Coalition in Congress. She’s Hispanic, as are many Valley Democrats. And fair or not, Harris is perceived locally as a Bay Area liberal.
It really doesn’t appear to be much of a swing region for Democrats, who often tend to be more conservative locally.
While Sanchez makes multiple visits and picks up central San Joaquin Valley endorsements, Harris looks to have struck out locally, at least when it comes to elected officials – current or former.
The June primary race, however, is more than just Democrats. All candidates, Republicans, Democrats and third parties, will be on the ballot together. The top two finishers will move on to the November general election.