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Kamala Harris Has Been Laying the Tracks for a Senate Race for a Long Time

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California Atty. Gen. Kamala Harris, a candidate for U.S. Senate, speaks at UCLA on Jan. 30. Her preparations for the 2016 race have been apparent for a long time. (Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times)

In the real world, Kamala Harris’ campaign for the U.S. Senate began just two weeks ago, days after Barbara Boxer’s Jan. 8 announcement that she would retire in 2016. In the political world, her preparations for the race have been apparent for a long time.

Last fall, for example. The Democratic attorney general spent close to $1.5 million in the first 18 days of October — the last calculations available — and most of it went to the airwaves.

That level of spending certainly was not necessary for Harris to eke out a victory over Ronald Gold, a Republican who spent less than $17,000 over the same period. Don’t remember Ronald Gold? Voters didn’t, either. Harris won by 15 percentage points.

That money was spent to craft an image for Harris for a campaign that her strategists could not yet see but knew was coming, like a train whistling closer but still around the bend. Boxer and her Senate colleague Dianne Feinstein, both elected in 1992, were seen as potential retirees in 2016 and 2018, respectively. Jerry Brown was running for his last term as governor, offering an opening there in 2018.

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