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Sanchez Senate Bid Opens Orange County House Seat

Sanchez is running for Senate in California. (By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

After waffling on a run earlier this week, Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez announced Thursday she is  running for California's open Senate seat.  

"I'm running to give a voice to every Californian," Sanchez said at a rally in Santa Ana. While her candidacy sets up a competitive Senate race, Sanchez's bid also leaves vacant the Orange County-based 46th District for the first time in two decades, which could draw a crowded field of contenders looking to ascend to Congress.  

The 46th District — which includes Disneyland, one of the Golden State's most famous landmarks — is heavily Democratic. President Barack Obama carried the majority Hispanic district with 61 percent in 2012, and Sanchez has won it with at least 59 percent in each of the two elections since the most recent round of redistricting.  

Democratic operatives mention three possible Democratic contenders for the seat.  

Former state Sen. Lou Correa, who ran unsuccessfully last year for a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, would be a top contender. Correa has represented the district in some capacity since 1998, including a short stint on the board of supervisors starting in 2005 before being elected to the Legislature.  

Former state Assemblyman Jose Solorio could also look at a run. Solorio has also represented the area for more than a decade, first on the Santa Ana City Council and later in the state assembly. Solorio lost a state Senate race in 2014.  

Santa Ana City Councilwoman Michele Martinez and Santa Ana Unified School District Trustee Valerie Amezcua, a former probation officer, could also run.  

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