Loretta Sanchez enters 2016 Senate race in California counting on her Latino roots

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez announced Thursday that she will be running for the California’s U.S. Senate seat being vacated at the end of the year by Barbara Boxer.

“I am running for the Senate because I am passionate about California and I believe we need a strong and experienced legislator in the Senate,” said Sanchez, a Democrat, amid a group of supporters at the kickoff of her campaign.

If she wins, she will be the first Latina in the U.S. and the first Hispanic-American from California to hold a seat in the Senate.

Sanchez, 55, said she is counting on her Latino roots to win the race, especially in raising the millions of dollars needed for the contest.

“If every Latino gave at least one dollar each, we would have more money than any other candidate,” she added.

With her announcement, Sanchez is injecting competition into a race that had been shaping up as a runaway for Attorney General Kamala Harris, also a Democrat.

Given California’s top-two primary system, which advances the top vote-getters in an open primary, regardless of party, the two could face off again in the general election.

Sanchez launched her campaign from her home town of Santa Ana. She spoke surrounded by supporters, community leaders and family members.

Her mother Maria was at her side. “This is the only woman in the United States that has sent two daughters to Congress,” Sanchez said, looking at her mom. Her sister Linda is also a Democrat and a U.S. Representative from Los Angeles.

Sanchez also took pride in her more than 20 years of experience as a member of the House.

“We have more legislative experience, national security experience and foreign policy experience [than her opponents].”

“I believe the Senator from California must start the first day running and getting it done, and I believe that experience is incredibly important,” she added.

Santa Ana attorney Alfredo Amezcua, who attended the event, said he was delighted with Sanchez announcement.

“The state of California is ready for someone like her,” he said. “The race is going to take a different shape mainly because she is one of the best-known Latinas in California, possibly the whole nation.”

Amezcua added that Sanchez will energize young Hispanic voters. “Most of the youth is from the Latino community and not only will they be encouraged to vote but also will be encouraged to support her candidacy.”

“I was hoping for this” said Luis Torres, a veteran who also said Sanchez has “put the pride back in me for what I had done in Vietnam and Cambodia.”

Wendy Rothman, from Seal Beach, said she was thrilled by Sanchez’s announcement and what it means to minorities like women and the Latino community.

“Her entire life is a statement for minorities and women. Just the fact that she has sacrificed her life for others makes her someone that all women can be proud of, and especially Latinas.”