Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt made a somewhat surprising announcement during his show Thursday: He’s supporting a Democrat in California’s Senate race.
California has an open primary system, in which the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election. Given the state’s heavily blue leaning, it shocked few when two Democrats ― California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez ― came out on top in June’s primary contest.
Hewitt, a resident of California’s Orange County who recently made headlines for un-endorsing and then re-endorsing Donald Trump for president, said Sanchez is his pick to replace outgoing Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.).
“I’ve known Loretta Sanchez forever,” he said. “And she’s going to make a great senator.”
Sanchez, who has served in Congress for two decades, has positioned herself as a moderate alternative to Harris. As the Washington Post reports, she’s looking to build an unusual coalition of Latino voters ― who make up roughly a third of the state’s electorate ― and Republicans, who don’t have a candidate of their own to support in the race.
Appearing on Hewitt’s program Thursday, the congresswoman highlighted her personal background ― both of her parents are Mexican immigrants ― as well as her foreign policy chops and her history of working with Republicans in Congress.
“I am an independent thinker, and that’s one of the things that the establishment of the Democratic Party up in San Francisco doesn’t like about me, is that I don’t necessarily vote party line, that I actually look at the issue, that I actually work across the aisle, that I have been elected 10 times in Republican Orange County, and that I have needed those Republican votes in order to be elected,” she said.
“Most Republicans I know are all in for her, because she’s center-left,” Hewitt said of Sanchez. “She’ll at least take the meeting, right? We’ll be able to get in and say, ‘We’d like you to consider this position.’”
Hewitt explained that his choice is a pragmatic one, noting that while they may have significant differences in opinion on policy, he has more in common with Sanchez than he does with Harris.
“You need Republican votes to win, and that’s why I’m glad to endorse you,” he said. “You and I are not going to agree a lot, but occasionally, we’re going to agree on armed services and some defense appropriation issues. I’m not going to agree with your opponent ever.”
Sanchez has also been backed by former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a Republican.
“Loretta knows how to work with Democrats, Republicans, and Independents,” he said in a statement last month.
Harris, meanwhile, has a strong lead in the polls, and has earned the support of prominent liberals like California Gov. Jerry Brown, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren and California Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom.