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Rocky Chavez's Departure From Senate Race Could Bolster GOP

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, foreground, leaves the state Assembly at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Thursday, March 5, 2015. Chavez entered the 2016 race for the U.S. Senate, Thursday.

Rich Pedroncelli / AP

Amita Sharma | KPBS
Republican Rocky Chavez’s sudden exit from the U-S Senate race this week could actually bolster the GOP’s chances of winning the seat. But that success may depend on one concept: unity.

Chavez quit at the start of a debate on KOGO-AM Monday after weak fundraising. He plans instead to run for re-election for his state assembly seat. Chavez says he doesn't know if his withdrawal from the U.S. Senate contest boosts the odds of a Republican making it into the fall runoff.

"The two Republicans who are running – I think they have a very traditional Republican message and I don't know if that's going to resonate," says Chavez.

The two Republicans are former state GOP chairmen: Duf Sundheim or Tom Del Becarro.

Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna says the only real shot one of them has of being a contender in November requires another cut in the field.

"They probably should go behind closed doors and flip a coin," says Luna. "It’s kind of like the Democrats fighting over a Senate seat. You don't want to have two reasonably strong Republicans fighting over the nomination. This is one of those times where ego and ambition could get in the way of party loyalty."

Those two Democrats are California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez.