Raise your hand if you recognize any of these names: President Christina Grappo, Jason Krauss, Clive Grey, Eleanor Garcia, Jerry J. Laws.
No? We didn’t either.
They’re all candidates for California’s first U.S. Senate vacancy in almost a quarter-century. Sen. Barbara Boxer, a Democrat first elected in 1992, is stepping down this year, and 34 people filed for the June 7 primary. Most of them are virtually unknown.
Even the leading candidates — Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez, both Democrats, former state Republican Party chairmen Tom Del Beccaro, Duf Sundheim and Silicon Valley businessman Ron Unz — aren’t household names.
But one of them will be California’s next senator. Despite the crowded field, including one candidate who wrote his ballot statement in binary computer code, this isn’t a sideshow. A seat in the U.S. Senate carries immense power, with a direct role in such issues as containing ISIS and encryption standards for mobile devices as well as the confirmation of executive and judicial officers.
Yet many voters have no opinion about the candidates, according to the Field Poll. With the primary less than six weeks away, nearly half of likely voters are undecided. And there won’t be many opportunities to size up the candidates, especially with the presidential campaign barreling into California like a hurricane.