When long-serving Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Cal., announced her retirement, the political world expected an all-out donnybrook with hopefuls, especially Democrats, battling over who would claim the seat in 2016, but so far it hasn't happened.
Instead, one Democrat, Attorney General Kamala Harris, has surged into an early lead and looks to be the odds-on favorite for at least the party's nomination, The New York Times
Real Clear Politics' latest roundup of polls
gives Harris a clear lead of 9 points over her closest opposition for the nomination.
Her most likely Democratic opponents, former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio R. Villaraigosa, wealthy environmental activist Tom Steyer, and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, have stepped aside, warned off by Harris' large war chest and the massive number of endorsements, including those of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., state legislators, police organizations and abortion rights group Emily's List, that Harris already has wrapped up, the Times notes.
Challenges still could emerge from Rep. Adam B. Schiff, D-Cal., Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Cal., and Rep. Xavier Becerra, R-Cal.
From the GOP side, State Assemblyman Rocky Chavez is planning to run, and said that "a lot of things can happen on the way to a coronation," the Times reports.
If anything stands in Harris' way, it could be her heritage in a state with a 40 percent Latino population and candidates with last names like Chavez, Becerra and Sanchez who may be gunning for her.
However, Harris, the multicultural daughter of an Indian cancer researcher and a Jamaican economist, already has an impressive list of "firsts" under her belt: the first African-American, first Asian and first female attorney general in the Golden State, The Economist notes
"A lot of folks said we wouldn't be able to win from the beginning," Harris told the Times. " 'This D.A. from San Francisco, this woman of color who is against the death penalty, running to become the top cop of the state.'"
She proved them wrong twice.
"An entire generation of Democrats, who have been waiting for this moment for years, took one look at Kamala Harris and quickly backed off," Dan Schnur, a politics professor at the University of Southern California, told The Economist.
Boxer's retirement "should have been the cue for an almighty dust-up among Democrats. A Senate seat is a big deal, after all. Instead it is turning into a coronation," The Economist commented, triggering inevitable comparisons with the virtually unchallenged path former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seems to be walking toward the Democratic nomination for president in 2016.
But Bill Carrick, a Democratic consultant, told the Times, "politics abhors a vacuum. Somebody is going to fall into this."
Harris told the Times, "I always start my campaigns early, and I run hard. Maybe it comes from the rough-and-tumble world of San Francisco politics, where it's not even a contact sport — it's a blood sport. This is how I am as a candidate. This is how I run campaigns."
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