By Joanna Meza
Rep. Loretta Sanchez’s U.S. Senate bid got off to a rough start after committing a racially insensitive gaffe at the Democratic National Convention in Anaheim last week. Sanchez, D-Garden Grove, mimicked a “war cry” while talking about an Indian-American donor, failing to distinguish between American Indians and those who trace their roots to India.
Sanchez initially ran away from a reporter who confronted her about the gaffe. She later issued a public apology.
“We’re all humans,” Sanchez said. “I think Native Americans have a great history and a great presence in our country.”
Sanchez is the United States representative for California’s 46th Congressional District, which includes Santa Ana and Garden Grove, and parts of Orange and Anaheim.
California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Sanchez’s opponent for the Senate seat, said she didn’t know what to say but described the gesture as “shocking.” Harris’ mother emigrated to the U.S. from India.
Supporters and Democratic operatives believe that Sanchez still has a chance, but little room for further mistakes.
“There’s time to fix this and to get back on her feet, but she doesn’t have a lot of room for error,” Democratic strategist Doug Thornell said.
Sanchez has raised $540,000 while Harris is in the lead with $2.2 million in campaign donations. Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-L.A., is considering entering the race.
Democratic campaign strategist Bill Carrick, who is aiding Sanchez, thinks there is nothing to worry about.
“There was obviously the event of the weekend, but the delegates that I spoke to were not anything but positive,” Carrick said.