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Loretta Sanchez unloads on President Obama for endorsing her rival for Senate

Rep. Loretta Sanchez. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)
Rep. Loretta Sanchez. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Orange County congresswoman Loretta Sanchez let loose on President Obama for endorsing her rival in California’s U.S. Senate race, accusing him of being part of the “entrenched political establishment” that has failed California voters.

Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced their support for U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris early Tuesday morning, praising her record as California’s attorney general and a prosecutor. Harris has been a longtime political ally of the president.

Sanchez said she was “disappointed” that Obama would intervene in a Senate race between two Democrats, saying his time would be better spent trying to defeat Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and GOP candidates for Senate.

“I believe that California voters are deeply concerned about the entrenched political establishment which has failed to work for them. Yet, it has been clear for some time that the same political establishment would rather have a coronation instead of an election for California's next U.S. Senator,” Sanchez said in a statement released by her campaign Tuesday evening. 

Sanchez has said for months that the party has favored Harris since she jumped into the race in early 2015, when Sen. Barbara Boxer announced she was retiring. Gov. Jerry Brown and the California Democratic Party already have endorsed Harris.

"California's Senate seat does not belong to the political establishment — it belongs to the People of California, and I believe California voters will make their own independent choice for U.S. Senate in November,” Sanchez's statement said.

The Harris campaign responded by saying that Sanchez's criticism of Obama was misguided. 

"It's disappointing to see Congresswoman Sanchez attack President Obama, claim he has failed to work hard and win results for our families, and question his commitment to defeating Donald Trump," Harris campaign manager Juan Rodriguez said in a statement. "That's not the perspective Californians want from their next U.S. Senator." 

In her statement, Sanchez also called Harris’ record as attorney general “troubling” and unleashed her most pointed criticism of her opponent in the campaign.

“Her glaring lack of experience on national security and federal issues may explain her notorious inability to take a timely stand on important federal issues, but that does not explain her failure to lead on a whole array of issues including a state investigation of officer-involved shootings,” Sanchez said. “Troubling increases in crime rates during her tenure, including a 10 percent increase in violent crimes including rape, reveal an Attorney General who says little and does even less.”

Sanchez also criticized Harris’ role in the nationwide $25-billion mortgage settlement with five major financial institutions for improper foreclosure practices during the recent housing market crash.

Harris has highlighted that settlement as one of her major accomplishments as attorney general, saying she delivered $20 billion in mortgage relief to Californians.

But Sanchez said in her statement that just a “small fraction of people got any meaningful relief,” and tens of thousands of Californians still lost their homes.

The two Democrats will face off in the November election, setting the stage for the highest-profile contest between two members of the same party since California adopted a top-two primary election system.

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