Kamala Harris Elected as California's New U.S. Senator | NBC Southern California
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Kamala Harris Elected as California's New U.S. Senator
BY Associated Press

Californians elected Kamala Harris as the state's new U.S. senator.

The state attorney general defeated fellow Democrat Rep. Loretta Sanchez to become first new senator from California in 24 years.

Speaking to supporters in Los Angeles, Harris struck a defiant tone on a night when Donald Trump moved within reach of the White House, and Republicans clinched control of the House and appeared on track to hold the Senate.

After her commanding win Tuesday, she promised to "fight for who we are and for our ideals."

Harris says she's committed to taking action on immigration reform, civil rights and fighting climate change at a time when "our ideals and fundamental values are being attacked."

She said, "I say we fight. And I intend to fight."

In the race to replace retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, it was the first time since voters started electing senators a century ago that Republicans were absent from California's general election ballot, reaffirming the GOP's fading influence in the state. Democrats control every statewide office and both chambers of the Legislature.

Harris, 52, becomes the first Indian woman elected to the Senate, and the second black woman. Illinois Sen. Carol Moseley Braun was elected in 1992 and served one term. Harris, a lifelong prosecutor, is the daughter of parents from India and Jamaica.

The exit poll found Harris with an edge in nearly all demographic groups. The two were about evenly splitting the Hispanic vote, even though Sanchez, the daughter of Mexican immigrants, had made overt appeals for Latino support.

Harris never trailed in polls or fundraising and was the consensus pick of the Democratic establishment. She was endorsed by President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, Gov. Jerry Brown, Boxer and her soon-to-be Senate colleague from California - Dianne Feinstein.

Harris and Sanchez emerged from a 34-candidate primary in June, in which only the top two vote-getters advanced to November. None of the Republicans managed to break out of single digits in voting.

Their rivalry revolved around who was best suited for the job - a veteran prosecutor with liberal credentials who touted her experience fighting big banks and environmental criminals, or a 10-term member of the House who positioned herself as a moderate, with experience in national security and military affairs.

The Senate contest marks a generational and demographic shift in the state that is growing increasingly diverse in population and favorable for Democrats.

Boxer, who is white and turns 76 this week, will be replaced by a Baby Boomer.

The matchup between Harris and Sanchez is seen as a harbinger of things to come. California Voters could increasingly find only two Democrats to pick from for top offices in November elections.