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Crowded Ticket Could Ease Path For Sanchez In Senate Bid

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo, File

In this Feb. 13, 2015 file photo, Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., responds to questions during a Congressional Hispanic Caucus news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C.

J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo, File

(AP) — Thirty-four candidates want to be California's next U.S. senator.

Beyond the leading Democrats, it's a mostly unfamiliar group that opens the way for surprises and could boost the chances of Rep. Loretta Sanchez in June's primary election.

The Orange County congresswoman is vying to get into a November showdown with front-runner and fellow Democrat Kamala Harris, the state attorney general.

Only the top two vote-getters in June advance to November under California's unusual election rules.

The top Republicans in the race have been polling only in single digits, lagging Harris and Sanchez.

With 12 little-known Republicans on the ballot, it's possible a fractured GOP vote will make it easier for two Democrats to advance.

Seven Democrats are running, with 15 others from minor parties or no affiliation.