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East County News Service

April 27, 2016 (San Diego) -- California Senator Barbara Boxer’s upcoming retirement has opened up a free-for-all in the race to replace her.  The ballot will have 34 names –and on Monday, the top five of those contenders took stage for a debate cosponsored by KCRA-TV and the University of the Pacific.

Attorney General Kamala Harris is heavily favored to win the race, having the endorsement of the Democratic Party in a state with only 28% of voters registered as Republicans.  The real question is who her opponent will be in November, after the June 7 primary narrows the race to the top two contenders.

The others in the debate included Orange County Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, a Democrat, as well as two former California Republican party chairmen Tom Del Beccaro and Duf Sundheim, as well as Republican software developer Ron Unz.

Both Harris and Sanchez talked about the need for affordable college education. Both support a pathway for citizenship for undocumented immigrants.

Harris faulted Sanchez for “anti-Muslim rhetoric,” a reference to Sanchez’ statements after the San Bernadino terror attacks indicating she believed up to 20% of Muslims support an Islamic caliphate state.

Sanchez, who serves on the House Homeland Security and Armed Services Committee, touted her anti-war stances on Iraq, stating, ““I’ll use everything before we have to go to war with anybody. “ But she criticized the Obama administration for not doing enough to stop Libya from becoming a breeding ground for Libyan extremists.  But she drew fire from Sundheim over her attendance record at committee meetings.

Del Beccaro by contrast said the U.S. should have done more to intervene militarily in Iraq and Syria.    

Sundheim strayed from his party’s hard line on immigration, indicating that while he supporters beefing up border security, he would also support a “pathway to citizenship” for undocumented immigrants already in the U.S. 

Republicans clashed on Wall Street reforms. “I think we have to crack down on Wall Street, just like Bernie Sanders is saying,” Unz stated.  Del Beccaro disagreed: “I'm not at all concerned about Wall Street and the rich.” Unz said he supports raising the minimum wage, while De Beccaro opposes doing so.