It's starting to look as if the race for the
Former L.A. Mayor
The reluctance of any sitting politician to enter this race is certainly understandable. Harris, in her second term as California's attorney general, is a formidable candidate with a national profile who would be hard to beat. She's got a financial edge too, having raised more than $2.5 million since January. And many prominent state and local party leaders have already pledged their allegiance to her, including L.A. County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey and
No one is suggesting that Harris is not qualified to run; clearly she is, and she may well turn out to be the superior Democratic candidate — should anyone take her on. But as with Hillary Rodham Clinton, so far the only viable Democratic candidate for president, we'd prefer to see real competition. An unopposed candidacy is great for political parties, not for voters or democracy.
A strong field of Democratic candidates is more likely to ensure that campaign debates cover topics Democrats care about, and elicit authentic answers instead of canned responses. Without such a vigorous vetting, Harris would be able to script her communication so carefully as to be meaningless. Social media enable candidates to bypass tough news media questions and reach voters directly. Meanwhile, the Republican candidates, who so far include Assemblyman Rocky Chavez of Oceanside and a bunch of unknowns, will set much of the agenda for the larger campaign, and you can bet it will be an endless dog pile on Harris.
Political parties should not be kingmakers. In reliably blue California, however, that's what happens when a field is cleared — deliberately or not — for a Democratic candidate.