The front page of every major U.S. newspaper seemed to salute the historic nomination of Hillary Clinton as the presumptive nominee for the Democratic Party after her win in the California Primary Tuesday night, but perhaps the most interesting story took place in the race between the state’s Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, who led 32 other candidates and will face each other in a November runoff.
With such large focus on Clinton, the mainstream media may have missed the story that could change our nation for the next six years.
What makes this story so impactful is what it represents for a nation that has suffered from broken race relations for countless years. For the first time, we will see an African American woman take on a Hispanic woman for a congressional seat. With Harris capturing the largest share of the votes and Sanchez coming in second, both of these women are poised to make history for their communities, for the state of California, and for the U.S. Senate.
In the state of California, the top two vote-getters advance to the general election in November, regardless of party affiliation. This will be the first time since voters started electing senators more than a century ago that a Republican will be absent from California’s general election ballot for the Senate. Before the Seventeenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, state legislators elected senators. California, the home of Ronald Reagan, was once a reliable Republican state, but thanks to demographic shifts it has now shifted left.
If elected this November, Harris, the daughter of Jamaican and Indian immigrants, would set historical marks. She would become the first Indian woman and the second Black woman elected to the U.S. Senate. Rep. Sanchez, if elected, could become one of the first Hispanic women to hold a U.S. Senate seat in the United States. Catherine Cortez Masto, who is also Hispanic, is the Democratic candidate for outgoing Sen. Harry Reid's seat in Nevada.
Either way, this race raises serious questions about the viability of the GOP and provides a stark contrast to what we see playing out in a presidential race. As Republicans push further and further to right, they have left Hispanic, African American, millennial, and the LGBT voters behind. Donald Trump hasn’t helped at all. His push to “make America great again,” has many believing that a Trump presidency would return our nation to a time when white supremacy ruled the land.
Democrats have had same criticism levied at them around diversity, and this race speaks to a party trying to fight their way through the fog. Both Harris and Sanchez, relative newcomers to the national scene, are powerful women of color that would alter the halls of Congress for the better.
With Harris the projected frontrunner, her win in November could once again show that power of the Obama coalition and her dominance in California’s implausible political landscape. Beyond just that, her legal experience and history of taking on the big banks would make her a great ally to Elizabeth Warren and a primary enemy to the Republican party.
The California race will be one to watch in November, not just because of it historical nature, but for what it says about the America’s emerging electorate.
Fowler is the host of the nationally syndicated radio program "The Richard Fowler Show," which can also be viewed on YouTube as an affiliate of The Young Turks network. Follow him on Twitter @RichardAFowler.