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Ron Unz for U.S. Senate

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Ron Unz’s U.S. Senate Race Raises Concerns of Splintered GOP Vote

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Republican Ron Unz may have jumped into the high-profile race to replace retiring Democratic Sen. Barbara Boxer, but he’s not drafting the speech he’s planning to deliver on the Senate floor in January.

“I’m an honest person, and I say what I believe,” said Unz, a Palo Alto software developer and entrepreneur who made an unsuccessful GOP primary bid for governor in 1994. “Sure, I could say I’m going to be the next senator, but that wouldn’t be honest.”

A Field Poll earlier this month shows just how tough a road Unz and other Republicans face in the Senate race, where only the top two finishers, regardless of party, advance to the November general election.

Democrat Kamala Harris, the state attorney general, leads the field at 27 percent among likely voters, followed by Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, with 14 percent support. None of the top three Republicans — Unz, Walnut Creek attorney Tom Del Beccaro and Palo Alto mediator Duf Sundheim — had more than 5 percent backing.

Instead of being in it to win it, Unz is using his Senate run to battle a measure on the November ballot that would repeal much of 1998’s Proposition 227, an initiative he sponsored — and bankrolled — that banned bilingual education in California public schools.