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Ron Unz for U.S. Senate

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Controversial English-Only Crusader Sets His Sights on California's Senate Race

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Ron Unz has a knack for wading into controversy. In the 1990s he fathered the English-only campaign for California’s public schools. This year, Unz launched a racially charged crusade to upend Harvard University’s admission and tuition policies.Now, Unz’s last-minute entry into California’s U.S. Senate race in March has sent a midwattage jolt through what has been a largely lifeless campaign. His bid has not threatened front-running Democrat state Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, but could cause discomfort to the field of candidates.

Just three weeks after the Silicon Valley multimillionaire jumped into the race, an April 9 Field Poll put Unz in third place — far behind Harris and Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez and a mere 1% ahead of GOP rival Tom Del Beccaro — among Californians expected to vote in the June primary. That performance was enough to earn him an invitation to the first Senate debate on Monday at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

With electoral pandemonium consuming the Republican presidential race — churned up by Donald Trump‘s campaign that is now on its way to the California primary — an unorthodox candidate such as Unz may have an outside chance to catch on, said Lori Cox Han, a political scientist at Chapman University in Orange.

“If someone like Ron Unz, with a conservative message, can tap into some of the voter angst that certainly the Trump campaign has been able to tap into, then I think it’s possible for him to gain traction,” she said.

• Category: Senate Campaign • Tags: Phil Willon