WASHINGTON (AP) – It was the campaign kickoff that wasn't.
A California congresswoman Tuesday recalled a statement that announced she would launch her campaign for U.S. Senate this week.
The email from Rep. Loretta Sanchez, festooned with U.S. flags and stars-and-stripes imagery, invited supporters to join her Thursday at an Orange County train station to mark the start of her entry into the 2016 contest. "Together we will win," the 10-term Democrat wrote.
But the electronic missive turned out to be a mistake. Sanchez adviser Bill Carrick said the email was a draft that was accidentally distributed and she hasn't made up her mind about the Senate race.
"This isn't what you would want if you are running for city council, much less U.S. Senate," said Democratic consultant Andrew Acosta.
It's a long way from the election but in a major campaign "you want to come out and show you are well organized. When you stumble out of the gate, it gives people pause," Acosta added.
The errant email brought a jolt of drama and confusion to a contest that so far has looked like a runaway for another Democrat, state Attorney General Kamala Harris. The party is strongly favored to hold the seat next year.
Sanchez's entry into the race would have created a demographic and geographical contrast for state voters: Sanchez is Hispanic with roots in Southern California, while Harris is from the San Francisco Bay Area and her father is black and mother is Indian.
Sanchez is among a string of Democrats considered possible contenders for the seat, which is being vacated by retiring Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.
Earlier Tuesday, Rep. Adam Schiff became the latest high-profile state Democrat to nix a bid for the post. Schiff said that his responsibilities as the ranking Democrat on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence took precedence, because it gives him a chance to contribute to the nation's security.
"Having only recently achieved this position, I was very reluctant to leave it," Schiff said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'll have a good opportunity to continue to work on the issues that I care most about."
Boxer's retirement was expected to unleash a logjam of ambitious Democratic challengers seeking higher office in 2016. Instead, Harris has had the field mostly to herself, while Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom and former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took their names out of consideration.
Two little-known Republicans are seeking the seat: Tom Del Beccaro, a former state party chairman, and two-term Assemblyman Rocky Chavez from San Diego County.
Schiff, now serving his eighth term, said he knows he would have been "fighting the odds" had he entered the race. Still, he believes that a candidate from Southern California can make a strong run.
"This was actually quite an attractive opportunity. Had this been a few years down the road when I had more time already in this position, it would have been a different calculus possibly," Schiff said.