Latino-black political conflict could loom in California senate race

A historic Latino versus African American political confrontation is brewing in California over the first open U.S. Senate seat in a generation that some fear could threaten Democratic unity in the 2016 presidential election. In the the days since the senate seat became open, many California Latino political leaders have taken offense that national Democratic figures have rushed to support the candidacy of Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who is today the most popular African-American in the Golden State. SEE ALSO: Return of the prodigal son, ‘Antonio Villaraigosa’ “It’s a little premature to assume there’s only going to be one Democratic candidate,” said an obviously miffed California Congressman Tony Cardenas who is urging former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to enter the 2016 race. Even Hispanic political leaders from outside California have entered the fray with Henry Cisneros, former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Bill Clinton, lobbying for Villaraigosa’s candidacy. Cisneros and others say they believe Villaraigosa, who has national name recognition, will soon enter what will likely become one of the most costly Senate races in history. California Hispanic leaders have taken umbrage at the quick embrace of Harris’s candidacy by Democrats outside the state because they have long had designs on a Latino making history by winning one of the two Senate seats. They had been waiting only on the retirement of one of the California’s two aging incumbents: Senator Barbara Boxer announced just two weeks ago that she will not seek re-election next year. The ‘coronation’ of Kamala Harris enters the picture But Latinos were caught off-guard by Harris’s fast entry and the equally quick support she generated in Washington. Her effective anointment by national party leaders, Latinos fear, leaves any Hispanic candidate at a distinct disadvantage and flies in the face that Latinos now are the state’s largest demographic group – more than five times the size of the African Americans population. “I think Hispanic leaders are concerned about some kind of coronation, as opposed to a real electoral campaign,” says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “There are certainly talented Latinos who could run for that seat.” Some California Democratic leaders fear the Latino-black fight could cause a breach in the longstanding minority-labor coalition that have helped Democrats control the state for much of the past half century. “The last thing Democrats need is Latino so pissed off that we give them another reason for staying away from voting in droves,” says a party leader who is working behind the scenes to avoid a political bloodbath. Causing friction among two communities? Historically, the clash represents the changing political culture in California where black political power has been on the wane for the last quarter century. In that time, Latinos have eclipsed African-Americans as political players in the state, which is why Harris emergence as a rising star has been a rallying cry. Former California legislator Willie Brown, an African-America once considered the most powerful politician in the state, has recently even met with Villaraigosa, asking him to step aside for Harris’s sake. SEE ALSO: Mayor Villaraigosa’s legacy: mixed and polarizing But most California Latino leaders figure Villaraigosa is the only Hispanic capable of raising the $20 million believed necessary to win the Senate seat. “The dynamics have changed since 1992,” says former State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez. “We have a role to play.” Representing the Bay Area voters A former San Francisco prosecutor, Harris also represents the current hopes of Bay area Democrats who have long dominated the party in California. Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and state party Chairman John Burton are all from Northern California. But Latinos are now throwing down the political gauntlet, trying to assert their new claim on political power in the state. “California is a different state than it used to be,” says Nuñez. “Before people make a decision as to who they want to be supporting, I think it would be wise for them to take a step back and take a deep breath.”The post Latino-black political conflict could loom in California senate race appeared first on Voxxi.

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Former Los Angeles governor Antonio Villaraigosa may be facing California Attorney General Kamala Harris for the senate seat that’s up for grabs in the state. (Photo Split: Getty Images)

A historic Latino versus African American political confrontation is brewing in California over the first open U.S. Senate seat in a generation that some fear could threaten Democratic unity in the 2016 presidential election.

In the the days since the senate seat became open, many California Latino political leaders have taken offense that national Democratic figures have rushed to support the candidacy of Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, who is today the most popular African-American in the Golden State.

SEE ALSO: Return of the prodigal son, ‘Antonio Villaraigosa’

“It’s a little premature to assume there’s only going to be one Democratic candidate,” said an obviously miffed California Congressman Tony Cardenas who is urging former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to enter the 2016 race.

Even Hispanic political leaders from outside California have entered the fray with Henry Cisneros, former Housing and Urban Development secretary under President Bill Clinton, lobbying for Villaraigosa’s candidacy.

Cisneros and others say they believe Villaraigosa, who has national name recognition, will soon enter what will likely become one of the most costly Senate races in history.

California Hispanic leaders have taken umbrage at the quick embrace of Harris’s candidacy by Democrats outside the state because they have long had designs on a Latino making history by winning one of the two Senate seats.

They had been waiting only on the retirement of one of the California’s two aging incumbents: Senator Barbara Boxer announced just two weeks ago that she will not seek re-election next year.

The ‘coronation’ of Kamala Harris enters the picture

But Latinos were caught off-guard by Harris’s fast entry and the equally quick support she generated in Washington.

Her effective anointment by national party leaders, Latinos fear, leaves any Hispanic candidate at a distinct disadvantage and flies in the face that Latinos now are the state’s largest demographic group – more than five times the size of the African Americans population.

“I think Hispanic leaders are concerned about some kind of coronation, as opposed to a real electoral campaign,” says Arturo Vargas, executive director of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. “There are certainly talented Latinos who could run for that seat.”

Some California Democratic leaders fear the Latino-black fight could cause a breach in the longstanding minority-labor coalition that have helped Democrats control the state for much of the past half century.

“The last thing Democrats need is Latino so pissed off that we give them another reason for staying away from voting in droves,” says a party leader who is working behind the scenes to avoid a political bloodbath.

Causing friction among two communities?

Historically, the clash represents the changing political culture in California where black political power has been on the wane for the last quarter century.

In that time, Latinos have eclipsed African-Americans as political players in the state, which is why Harris emergence as a rising star has been a rallying cry.

Former California legislator Willie Brown, an African-America once considered the most powerful politician in the state, has recently even met with Villaraigosa, asking him to step aside for Harris’s sake.

SEE ALSO: Mayor Villaraigosa’s legacy: mixed and polarizing

But most California Latino leaders figure Villaraigosa is the only Hispanic capable of raising the $20 million believed necessary to win the Senate seat.

“The dynamics have changed since 1992,” says former State Assembly Speaker Fabian Nuñez. “We have a role to play.”

Representing the Bay Area voters

A former San Francisco prosecutor, Harris also represents the current hopes of Bay area Democrats who have long dominated the party in California.

Boxer, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and state party Chairman John Burton are all from Northern California.

But Latinos are now throwing down the political gauntlet, trying to assert their new claim on political power in the state.

“California is a different state than it used to be,” says Nuñez. “Before people make a decision as to who they want to be supporting, I think it would be wise for them to take a step back and take a deep breath.”

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The post Latino-black political conflict could loom in California senate race appeared first on Voxxi.