California Attorney General Kamala Harris, right, won California's primary for the U.S. Senate seat this week with about 40 percent of the vote. The seat is being vacated by Sen. Barbara Boxer, who is retiring. Under new state primary rules, Harris, a Democrat, will run against Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez in the general election. Photo courtesy of Kamala Harris
LOS ANGELES, June 9 (UPI) -- There will not be a Republican on the ballot when Californians cast votes in November's U.S. Senate contest. Instead, two Democrats will compete under a new top-two primary system that was approved by voters in 2010.
Californians had 34 candidates to choose from in the state's U.S. Senate primary on Tuesday. California Attorney General Kamala Harris won with about 40 percent of the vote, while Orange County Rep. Loretta Sanchez got about 18 percent of votes.
"This election has been about all of us coming together as proud Californians to fight for the ideals of our country," Harris said in a statement Wednesday.
The two Democratic women will face off against each other on Nov. 8. The absence of a Republican was brought about by changes to primary rules enacted in 2012. The GOP's chances likely suffered as Republican voters had to choose from a large field of candidates, the Los Angeles Times reports.
In 2010, California voters approved a top-two primary system -- meaning the top two candidates who receive the most votes in a primary will move on to the general election, regardless of party.
Harris earned 800,000 more votes than Sanchez, giving the state attorney general a comfortable lead.
"Our unity is our strength. Our diversity is our power," Harris said Tuesday night. "We understand that we have so many challenges as a country and we are prepared to lead."
Sanchez's strategy may be to increase her favorability with Republicans, Independents and Latino voters. The California representative's expertise on national defense and her reputation as a fiscal moderate may pull in GOP support. Sanchez serves as a senior member of the Armed Services and Homeland Security committees.
The Sanchez campaign said there are "significant challenges ahead" but added that Harris should not expect an easy competition. About 6 million people voted in California on Tuesday, but more than 12 million voted in the 2012 November election -- meaning the number of voters Sanchez can reach increases significantly.