Why Doesn’t Loretta Sanchez Want To Be Re-elected?

UPDATE: The Courage Campaign, where I work as Public Policy Director, is asking our members this morning to call Loretta Sanchez and ask her to vote “yes” on the bill. OFA is also organizing an 11AM rally at Loretta Sanchez’s Santa Ana campaign office – click here for details.

Original post:

Back in 1996, when I was still shedding my youthful Orange County conservatism, I walked a few precincts in Garden Grove and Anaheim for Loretta Sanchez. That fall, she won by about 900 votes, a big upset produced through her hard work and clear desire to represent her constituents and their needs.

Since then she’s seen off several challengers, and won re-election by increasing margins. This year, however, she faces a strong Republican challenger in Assemblymember Van Tran. Tran has built an impressive electoral machine in west-central Orange County, and while most observers don’t think he will win, Sanchez is certainly worried.

When facing such a challenger, you would think that one of the ways you’d defend yourself is to ensure your base is happy, and that you are doing all you can do to motivate your base and your constituents to vote for you. Particularly by addressing one of your constituents’ primary needs, which is health care.

That’s why it is simply baffling, even bizarre, to read this report from Roll Call (via David Dayen’s FDL whip count):

As their whip efforts narrow to just a handful of Members, House Democratic leaders are facing an unlikely problem vote: Rep. Loretta Sanchez.

Sanchez was nowhere to be found on Saturday – she was in Florida on a fundraising jaunt, two Democratic sources said – and while leaders expected her to return for the Sunday vote on final passage, they weren’t assured. What’s more, leaders now list the Orange County Democrat as a “no” vote….

Sanchez this week told the Orange County Register that she needs to be satisfied that the health care overhaul is affordable. “The Senate bill is a bad bill,” she told the paper.

Loretta Sanchez is apparently making the same mistake several other Democrats are poised to make, which is assuming that voting “no” on the health care bill is anything other than guaranteeing their own defeat in November.

Here’s why. If Sanchez votes yes, then she gives her constituents and her base a good reason to care about her re-election. They’ll be motivated to ensure that she sees off Van Tran, a right-winger in the classic Orange County tradition, to defend someone who made the right choice on health care. Tran would still present a challenge, but Sanchez would be able to mobilize an army of volunteers and donors to help defend against it.

But if Sanchez votes no, then she has nothing to fall back on. Her base would desert her. Volunteers would stay home, and small donors would find a more useful purpose for their money. Her pleas for support against Van Tran would fall on deaf ears. Her constituents would be forced to choose between two candidates who have shown no willingness to do anything for them on health care – one of whom had just betrayed them in Congress.

A “yes” vote gives Sanchez a fighting chance at victory. A “no” vote seals her doom.

I’ve always had a soft spot for Loretta Sanchez, stemming from that 1996 campaign. It pains me to see her throw 14 years of service down the drain like this. But if she votes “no,” she’s on her own, and nobody will save her from Van Tran and an Orange County Republican Party determined to avenge one of their most stinging and significant defeats they’ve ever suffered.

21 thoughts on “Why Doesn’t Loretta Sanchez Want To Be Re-elected?”

  1. The NO vote is the safe, as well as intelligent, place to be for Ms. Sanchez or any House member.

    If HCR pases the right will bludgeon the Democratic party with all the bad features and gifts to Big Insurance and Pharma in the bill.

    So will Progressives.  

    That’s why almost everyone see big losses for Dems in November.  Obama made a big mistake by screwing his base by not getting them single payer or at least a broad public option.  

    The smart politicians are not going to want to be defending the YES side of this disaster all summer.

  2. I strongly agree with Robert.  If Loretta Sanchez stabs her constituents, her party leaders, and this administration in the back by voting no on health care, she can dream on about assistance in the fall.  Hopefully this is one of those reports that is mistaken or overblown.  It makes no sense, politically or as policy, for her to oppose this.

  3. Going Republican Lite, Blanche Lincoln style will get you nowhere. GOP voters in a midterm partisan low turn out election would have already sent in their Van Tran Ballots if they could. She’ll get hammered. I would have put Sanchez on my donor list as Van Tran is necrotic wingnut debris and as corrupt as they come. She votes no, I won’t even pay attention to that race other than to prepare for 2012.

    I can understand people like Stupak and his gang, don’t agree with the logic or their stance on abortion, but it is their belief system. Voting no based on flimsy logic or baseless fears of threats by Teabaggers in your district isn’t acceptable.

  4. Robert,

    Thanks for writing this. I put up my post about why I thought Loretta was doing this shortly following your own. Basically, Loretta Sanchez has proven to be for “Loretta” all of these years. She started out as Loretta Brixey running for Anaheim City Council as a Republican. And when she discovered that she could have more luck running with her Spanish maiden name and as a Dem in her district, she switched.

    She also has some personal relationships with lobbyists that she does not care to comment on (I and others have tried to get a statement on the record, but she ignores bloggers). You can read more here about these conflicts of interest:



    Really, you shouldn’t have a ‘soft spot’ for Loretta, she’s showing her true colors at this point. It is time that she is challenged seriously for her seat.  

  5. Loretta likes the spotlight.

    This positioning shines it right on her.

    She wants her time on camera. She gets it.

    I count her as a likely yes vote. She will look at the CBO score and say the bill is responsible.

    She is more Blue Dog that Latino activist, unlike her sister.

    There is no gain to voting NO.

    She doesnt win the Vietnamese vote and she doesnt win the ex-Dornan right-wing vote.

    She needs the progressives and our money and Labor to campaign for her.

    She won in 96 with Acorn and Sierra Club walkers/canvassing and with EMILY List and Pro-choice money.

    While it makes no sense for her to be a NO, there is always a wild-hair with Loretta.

  6. and besides, contrary to what was asserted, her reluctance to support the Senate bill was because it was not progressive enough, not because she was trying to endear herself with Teaparty types. She came out and supported a public option before the House vote. She knows that her yes vote on the more progressive House bill would have eliminated any potential benefit with conservative voters in her district by a no vote on the more moderate Senate bill.

    I agree on the political analysis of the post(a no vote wouldn’t help her with the right and would hurt her with her base) but she knew that. She also realized that although the bill wasn’t what she wanted it was an important first step, and in the end this outweighed her concerns the bill did not go far enough. She undoubtedly was tired of being taken for granted, had some legitimate doubts, hence the drama.  

  7. Re: “If Loretta Sanchez stabs her constituents, her party leaders, and this administration in the back by voting no on health care, she can dream on about assistance in the fall.”

    Sanchez is responsible to her constituents, not to Pelosi and Obama. Voting against this bill would not have been a “stab in the back.” Obama and Pelosi didn’t put her in office. She ultimately voted yes because it was what her constituents wanted.

    This “throw everybody overboard for Obama” mentality among the Democrats needs to stop.  

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