Political Notebook

Kamala Harris presses Democratic flesh in Fresno campaign visit

A week ahead of the state Democratic Party convention in San Jose, U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris came through Fresno on her “Winning Results for California Tour.”

It’s probably no coincidence that the San Francisco Democrat and current state attorney general is touring the state now, because convention delegates (including those from the central San Joaquin Valley) will consider endorsing a candidate for the Senate seat being vacated by Barbara Boxer.

There’s a whole host of candidates, but on the Democratic side, only two that really matter – Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, an Orange County congresswoman.

Winning the party’s endorsement isn’t easy. It’s even harder when two high-profile Democrats are seeking it. Non-incumbent candidates such as Harris and Sanchez need 60 percent of delegate votes to win the party’s endorsement. If that threshold isn’t reached, there is no endorsement.

On Friday morning, Harris – who has consistently led in the polls – downplayed the endorsement, saying it’s tough to win.

But that’s not to say she’s not trying.

On Thursday evening, she attended the Fresno County Democratic Women’s Club’s “Salute to Democratic Trailblazers” event at Pardini’s. On Friday morning, she followed that up with a meet-and-greet at the Teamsters Local 431 hall on West Olive Avenue, where she talked with about 60 people.

Her message was solidly Democratic Party.

Take crime, for instance.

“We’ve been offered a false choice,” Harris, the state’s top cop, told the union crowd. “A choice that suggests you’re either soft on crime or you’re tough on crime, instead of asking if we are smart on crime.”

She then drew a parallel with public health.

“You want to deal with an epidemic, be it a health epidemic or a crime epidemic, the smartest and cheapest way to deal with it is prevention first,” she said. “If you’re dealing with it in the emergency room or the prison system it is much too late and far too expensive.”

She stated unequivocally that climate change is real, and the nation denies it “to our collective peril.”

She also said that climate change is real, and the nation denies it “to our collective peril.”

Her talking points were also pro-union.

For example, she said she opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a controversial 12-nation Pacific Rim trade agreement that is awaiting Senate approval.

The reasons, Harris said, were concerns about protecting U.S. jobs and environmental issues.

Harris said she’ll fight for votes in Fresno and has visited the central San Joaquin Valley region several times – and will come more in the future, including as a senator if she wins in November.

“Elected leaders have to be in this region and meet with people and understand the details of the condition of life of the people in this region,” she said in an interview. “I have always taken very seriously that, certainly in the work that I have done, it’s about all the people, not the people of a certain region.”