Can the GOP topple Rep. Loretta Sanchez?
Ever since her headline-grabbing upset of conservative Republican icon Rep. Robert K. Dornan back in 1996, Rep. Loretta Sanchez has won reelection in her working-class district by wide margins. Now, however, Republicans believe they stand a fighting chance of unseating Orange County's only Democratic member of the House.
Armed with years of local political experience, strong ties with the area's ascendant Vietnamese American community and the backing of Republicans in Washington and around the nation, Republican state Assemblyman Van Tran is giving Sanchez her first serious challenge in more than a decade.
"That seat has been on the radar screen for Republicans for a long time, but [until now] they've not really had a substantive candidate," said Chip Hanlon, a founder of Red County, a conservative blog about Orange County politics. Republican leaders and campaign donors now "believe this is a winnable fight," Hanlon said.
"It's important to note she has taken it seriously from Day 1," said Andy Stone, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
On Friday, the Sanchez campaign announced that former President Bill Clinton will appear at a rally for her in downtown Santa Ana on Oct. 15.
Arguing that Sanchez is a better fit for the working-class district because her record better serves their interests, Stone said she is "working diligently to point out Van Tran's record on a whole range of issues that affect people's lives."
-- Jean Merl
Photo: Rep. Loretta Sanchez mixes with constituents at February 2007's Tet Festival in Garden Grove. Her district is largely Latino but also has a large Vietnamese American community. Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times