A gaffe by Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA) this weekend may have fatally wounded her campaign bid for outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer’s (D-CA) seat after she made a war whoop sound and gesture while telling delegates and supporters a story about an Indian man whom she had mistakenly expected to be Native American.
Sanchez has reportedly refused to rule out the possibility of running instead for re-election to the House of Representatives. When asked by the Los Angeles Times on Sunday whether she would rule out a reelection run for her House seat if her Senate campaign was in trouble, she did not deny it and responded with “Let me be very clear: I am running for the United States Senate. Thank you.”
Candidates seeking either House or Senate election have until March of 2016 to file in California.
The war whoop gesture created fodder for her opponent, Attorney General Kamala Harris, who called it “shocking” and suggested that “there is no place for that in our public discourse.” Harris’s mother is an immigrant from India.
On more than one occasion, and during her speech on Sunday to those who had convened at the California Democrats Convention in Anaheim, Sanchez apologized, and described herself as a longtime champion of civil and human rights who has Native American blood in her mother’s family.
“It’s hard to put yourself out there and to do what leaders need to do–day in and day out–and yes, sooner or later we make mistakes,” she said, according to the Associated Press. “In this crazy and exciting rush of meetings yesterday, I said something offensive and for that I sincerely apologize.”
This is the second gaffe Sanchez has made in less than a week. Early last week, her team had erroneously sent out a premature campaign announcement, retracted the statement, and then announced on Thursday.
Some Democrats have reacted with extreme sensitivity to Sanchez’s remark, while others shrugged.
San Jose delegate Amparo Diaz told the AP that it was “offensive, absolutely” and that “everyone was just shocked… We looked around to reassure each other we had just seen the same thing. Did it really happen?”
But the same sentiment was not echoed by Laguna Beach delegate Marni Magda, Magda told the Associated Press that Sanchez embraces diversity and that she would “never be racist against anyone….I think she thought she was being funny and didn’t realize there were people who would be offended.”
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