How much does Sanchez’s House experience matter in the Senate?

loretta sanchez 2CalWatchDog-Loretta Sanchez spent much of her time at the California Democratic convention last weekend trying to persuade the party faithful that her 19 years of experience in Congress makes her the best choice to replace Democrat Barbara Boxer in the U.S. Senate.

Unlike the House, where the strength is in building coalitions, individual senators have a lot of power — the place runs almost entirely on unanimous consent. Personal relationships matter and senators don’t respect those they don’t respect or those who can’t keep their promises.

Especially in an increasingly partisan world, the ability to make friends across the aisle is key in the Senate. For example, Boxer was successful on transportation legislation because she was able to find common ground with Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., with whom she disagreed with on almost everything else.

“Relationships are very important in a Senate that runs on consensus,” said Jim Manley, former spokesman for Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

Sanchez, an Orange County congresswoman, is running against fellow Democrat Kamala Harris, the state Attorney General and frontrunner in both polling and fundraising, as well as two former state Republican party chairs, Duf Sundheim and Tom Del Beccaro.

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