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Ron Unz for U.S. Senate

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Even Republicans Swing Left in 1st California U.S. Senate Debate

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Credit: Carlos Gonzalez, Associated Press
Credit: Carlos Gonzalez, Associated Press
Most of the candidates running for California’s up-for-grabs U.S. Senate seat were swaying so far to the left during Monday’s televised debate that even the Republicans were talking about raising the minimum wage, the problem of income inequality and how bad George W. Bush’s foreign policy was.

“I think we have to crack down on Wall Street, just like Bernie Sanders is saying,” said Republican Ron Unz, who lamented the “oligarchy” of the “financial elite” while complimenting a position of a Democratic candidate for president.

That was just one of the unexpected left turns Monday when, in an unusual moment in California politics, two Democrats and three Republicans shared a debate stage. Co-sponsored by The Chronicle, KCRA-TV of Sacramento and the University of the Pacific, the debate on the Stockton campus was one of only two multiparty primary debatesscheduled before California’s June 7 primary and the only one to be televised live across the state and streamed digitally. The top two vote-getters in the primary, regardless of party affiliation, will face off in November.

Despite the bipartisan lineup, there were few clashes among the candidates and no sound bite zingers that will go viral. Instead of battling over partisan issues, the candidates, with the frequent exception of conservative former California Republican Party Chairman Tom Del Beccaro, frequently agreed on topics that would appeal to most voters in left-leaning California, where all statewide officeholders are Democrats and the Legislature is under Democratic control.