California's Historic Senate Race Puts Women of Color Front and Center in Politics


This article was originally published at Revelist.

Hillary Clinton isn't the only woman entering the history books this election cycle. For the first time ever, two women of color are running against each other in a senate race.

When California's voters head to the voting booth in November, they'll choose between Kamala Harris, an African-American and Indian-American woman who serves as the state's attorney general, and Loretta Sanchez, a Latina who's currently a member of the state's House of Representatives.

Both women are vying to fill retiring Senator Barbara Boxer's vacant seat—and are also both Democrats. They nixed out Republican candidates during the June 7 primary, which ThinkProgress reports is a result of California's "jungle primary" system.

A 2010 measure allows candidates with the most primary votes, regardless of party affiliation, to land on the November ballot. However, Sanchez is a moderate Democrat who is conservative on certain issues, like gun control, according to Bloomberg.

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Kamala Harris (left) and Loretta Sanchez

photo: Revelist/Wikimedia Commons

If elected, Harris—who's the daughter of Jamaican and Indian parents—will be the second Black woman elected to the senate and the first Indian woman, according to the Associated Press. The 51-year-old will be traveling the trail blazed by former Illinois Senator Carol Moseley Braun, who served one term after being elected in 1992. 

Similarly, Sanchez would be the first Latina senator, though she may be entering Congress at the same time as Catherine Cortez Masto, a fellow Latina who's running for Senator Harry Reid's Nevada seat.

Regardless of who wins the seat, California's newest senator will add some much needed racial and gender diversity to the white, male-dominated senate. 

While women are more than 50 percent of the American population, only 20 of America's 100 senators are women and only six senators are people of color, according to the Pew Research Center.

No matter who becomes California's next senator, this groundbreaking election shows what diversity in politics can—and should—look like.

This article was originally published at Revelist.

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