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Ron Unz for U.S. Senate

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Harris Emerges Unscathed from Senate Debate, While Unz Surprises

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Silicon Valley software developer and theoretical physicist Ron Unz, a Republican, may have been the biggest surprise of the night in California’s first televised U.S. Senate debate Monday, defying party leadership by expressing support for Democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders, a boosted minimum wage, and free college tuition.

Unz, a last-minute entry into what is California’s first open U.S. Senate race in more than two decades, was among the five leading Republican and Democratic candidates who talked up immigration, economy, and terrorism in a 90-minute forum. The race will decide who will replace the retiring Democratic U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer.

The debate Monday was surprisingly drama-free session from which the Democratric frontrunner, Attorney General Kamala Harris, emerged completely unscathed. Asked to defend a style of governing which critics have called overly cautious, Harris countered that she was “fearless, yes; reckless, no.”

Her Democratic challenger, Rep. Loretta Sanchez of Orange County, still double digits behind Harris in the polls, never once mentioned the attorney general by name or went on the attack against her during the debate at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.

Sanchez touted her work on the key House committees like Homeland Security, and said she has repeatedly proven her abilities “to bring people together” in tough circumstances. But “I’m not the status quo,’’ she argued. “Washington hasn’t changed me — I’ve been changing Congress for more than 20 years.”

Also on stage were Republican candidates Tom Del Beccaro and George “Duf” Sundheim, two former chairs of the state GOP.

• Category: Senate Campaign • Tags: Carla Marinucci, Politico