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Sanchez bills herself as the bipartisan, moderate candidate in US Senate race

Loretta Sanchez makes her victory speech on the night of the California Primary elections in Anaheim, Calif. Tuesday, June 7, 2016.
Susanica Tam/KPCC
Loretta Sanchez makes her victory speech on the night of the California Primary elections in Anaheim, Calif. Tuesday, June 7, 2016.

A new campaign begins for U.S. Representative Loretta Sanchez, who is already looking for votes among Republicans and Independents in the race to replace retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer.

California Attorney General Kamala Harris outperformed Sanchez by far in Tuesday's primary. Despite the wide, double-digit gap, the Congresswoman from Orange County declared a victory Tuesday night in Anaheim.

“We’re a winner tonight,” Sanchez said.

With Harris’ collection of endorsements from Democratic establishment officials, Sanchez will need to find support beyond her party.

And she wasted no time doing so.

“If you want an effective, bipartisan, work-across-the-isle, independent, ready-to-go, problem solver,” she said in her final speech Tuesday night. “Then, send Loretta Sanchez to the United States Senate.”

Sanchez, positioning herself as a consensus builder, promised to work with small business owners, chambers of commerce and labor leaders to create jobs, a nod to Republican voters that aren’t likely to see a party candidate on the ballot in November.

“Every voter’s up for grabs,” she said. “I’m not turning my back on any voter.”

As she’s done before, Sanchez, 56, talked about how her Mexican immigrant parents struggled to make a life in Anaheim and worked hard to raise seven educated children. But Sanchez drew mild and unsure applauses when she said this experience was a shared one.

“This is a story that all Americans, and all Californians, can agree on,” she said. “Republicans, Democrats, and Independents – the American Dream – that is what we all want.”

Sanchez touted her experience on the House Homeland Security and Armed Services committees while listing her liberal legislative stances such as voting against the Iraq war and the Patriot Act. 

With nearly 20 years in Congress, Sanchez ishanging her hat on experience and not needing an introduction to federal legislation. 

“On day one, I will walk in there, and there will be no on the job training,” she said. 

Her more moderate votes, like the one in 2005 that shielded gun manufactures from certain liability lawsuits, could win her support from conservatives. In Orange County, Sanchez is well known for upsetting Republican incumbent Bob Dornan in 1996 for the 46th District. She ran as a moderate Democrat, then.

However, even in her hometown, she and Harris are in a virtual tie with the majority of the precinct results showing. Sanchez earned 25.9 percent of the vote among Orange County voters; Harris got 25.4 percent.

Sanchez is relying on voters to turn out in the general election in November.

“We’ll have to work with the people and through the people to get this vote in,” she said.