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U.S. Senate candidates face off in nationally televised debate at Cal State LA

October 5, 2016

California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez faced off Wednesday night in a spirited debate in the race for the state's open U.S. Senate seat.

The two candidates squared off for 60-minutes inside the packed University-Student Union Theatre on the Cal State LA campus. The event was the only scheduled debate in the race to fill a seat held by retiring Senator Barbara Boxer, who was elected in 1992.

The Oct. 5 debate was sponsored by the Pat Brown Institute at Cal State LA, KABC-7 TV and the League of Women Voters California Education Fund. The candidates fielded questions on topics including foreign policy, the political process and domestic policy from ABC Eyewitness News anchor Marc Brown and a three-person panel representing the sponsoring organizations. Associated Students, Inc. President Kayla Stamps asked Sanchez and Harris what each could do to encourage college students to vote and use their political power.

VIDEO: U.S. Senate Debate

The debate marked the first time that two statewide candidates faced off in a general election under California’s top-two primary system, which sends the two candidates who received the most votes in the primary into a November election runoff, regardless of political party.

Guests were welcomed to the event by Cal State LA President William A. Covino.

“Cal State LA is proud to host this important debate on our campus,” he said. “This event underscores our commitment to engagement, service, and the public good.” 

The debate was aired live by KABC and streamed on the Cal State LA YouTube page. C-SPAN broadcasted the event to a national audience. The audience included reporters from news organizations across California, including the Los Angeles Times, Sacramento Bee, KQED Public Media, and KPCC Southern California Public Radio.

“The debate was a victory for the voters of California. They had an opportunity to see the candidates discuss important issues that affect all of us,” said Raphael Sonenshein, executive director of the Pat Brown Institute and one of the debate panelists.

Photo: California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez​ during the U.S. Senate Debate at Cal State LA. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State LA)

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Cal State LA is a university dedicated to engagement, service, and the public good. Founded in 1947, the University serves more than 27,000 students and 247,000 distinguished alumni, who are as diverse as the city we serve. Located in the heart of Los Angeles, Cal State LA has long been recognized as an engine of economic and social mobility. Led by an award-winning faculty, the University offers nationally recognized programs in science, the arts, business, criminal justice, engineering, nursing, education and the humanities.

Cal State LA is home to the critically-acclaimed Luckman Fine Arts Complex, Pat Brown Institute for Public Affairs, Hertzberg-Davis Forensic Science Center, Hydrogen Research and Fueling Facility, Billie Jean King Sports Complex, TV, Film and Media Center and the Center for Engagement, Service, and the Public Good. For more information, visit