Tag Archives: Gary Miller

NRCC Announces More Patriots

The National Republican Congressional Committee has released the names of their second round of Patriot Program members, those congressmen who the NRCC believes are its most vulnerable incumbents. Back in April, the Committee publicized the first group of 11 GOP members facing the most competitive political situations.

Yesterday, nine more Representatives became “Patriots.” The program is designed to recruit incumbents in safe political situations to help raise and/or contribute funds to the designated colleagues.

The nine new members are:
• Dan Benishek – MI-1
• Michael Grimm – NY-11
• Bill Johnson – OH-6
• Tom Latham – IA-3
• Gary Miller – CA-31
• Tom Reed – NY-23
• Scott Rigell – VA-2
• Keith Rothfus – PA-12
• Lee Terry – NE-2

Two are rather obvious choices who did not make the first cut when the original Patriots were tabbed three months ago. Rep. Benishek won a second term last November, but with just 48 percent of the vote, outlasting by one point the same opponent he topped in double digits just two years before. Rep. Miller holds the most Democratic seat, at least in terms of the 2012 presidential vote, of any Republican House member.

Rep. Grimm represents the Staten Island seat that generally votes Republican, but did elect a Democrat for a term in the original Obama presidential year of 2008. Announced Democratic candidate Domenic Recchia, a New York City councilman, has already raised more money than Grimm, hence the sophomore congressman being added as a Patriot Program participant.

Representatives Johnson, Rigell, and Terry all hold marginally swing districts. In the majority of political circumstances they, as Republican incumbents, should maintain their seats.

Rep. Reed scored only a 49-46 percent win last November in a district that is more Democratic than his original pre-redistricting 29th CD. Even with the change, the three-point victory was an under-performance.

Rep. Rothfus upset Democratic incumbent Mark Critz in 2012, taking advantage of a favorable Republican redistricting map. The fact that Critz is considering seeking a re-match lands Rothfus in the Patriot Program.

Rep. Latham won a huge victory (52-43 percent) over fellow Congressman Leonard Boswell (D) last November in an incumbent pairing situation, but the district is still very attainable for the Democrats who plan to make the seat a target. It’s unlikely they’ll succeed, but the NRCC action signals that their party will take no chances here.

House Re-Set

Completing our two-part series examining the congressional political picture (the July 8 Political Update covered the Senate outlook), today we look at the House.

Currently, 234 Republicans and 201 Democrats comprise the body’s membership. Three seats are slated to soon become vacant: Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA-5) will be sworn into the Senate upon official certification of his late June special election victory; Rep. Jo Bonner (R-AL-1) announced his resignation effective in mid-August to accept a position at the University of Alabama; and Rep. Mel Watt (D-NC-12), should he be confirmed, will become the Director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency thus leaving the House at an undetermined date.

In contrast to the 2012 cycle when 62 seats were open, at this point only 14 members have announced their retirements, accepted new positions, or are running for a different office. Three others: representatives Robin Kelly (D-IL-2), Mark Sanford (R-SC-1), and Jason Smith (R-MO-8), have won special elections since the current 113th Congress began making a grand total of 17 seats that have opened, or will open, since the 2012 general election. Of the fourteen currently projected open seats, eight are Republican held and six Democratic.

Toss-Ups

Attributable to a tight national redistricting model, only eight seats are now in this column. Six of those belong to Democrats (representatives Ron Barber (AZ-2), Scott Peters [CA-52), Patrick Murphy (FL-18), Joe Garcia (FL-26), Mike McIntyre (NC-7), and Jim Matheson (UT-4)], while only two are Republican-held [representatives Gary Miller (CA-31) and Mike Coffman (CO-6)]. Therefore, the GOP is in a slightly better position to gain a small number of seats.

The Leans

Both parties have just about an equal number of “lean” seats. Majority Republicans have 18 of their members or open seats rated as Lean Republican, while  Continue reading >

Do Dems Have a Shot at Gaining Calif. House Seats?

After the June 5 California primary, most observers were stunned to see two Republicans, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) and state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R), qualify for the general election in San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District. Considering that this new seat should normally vote Democratic in at least six of every 10 elections, the double Republican primary outcome had not been foreseen. His party’s San Berdo setback did not deter Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-2) from continuing to declare that his team will gain at least four to five California House seats, however.

A look beyond the Obama-McCain 2008 numbers on the newly crafted California Citizens Redistricting Commission congressional map tells a different story. Right now, it appears the Democrats are safe in 28 California seats and Republicans’ 13, with 12 seats in competitive Democrat vs. Republican situations. If these numbers are correct, then the D’s would have to win 10 or 11 of the dozen most competitive districts to reach Israel’s projection of leaving California with 38 or 39 Democratic seats.

Though President Obama carried all 12 of the marginal seats in 2008, he did so under his statewide 61 percent winning percentage in every district. Looking beyond the surface of the presidential race, we find that the Republican attorney general nominee, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who ended up losing statewide by less than one percentage point, actually carried all 12 of these CDs. Additionally, and possibly even more telling, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), a 52-42 percent winner statewide two years ago, lost nine of the 12 districts to Republican Carly Fiorina. Gov. Jerry Brown (D), a 54-41 percent victor over Republican Meg Whitman in 2010, won eight of the competitive dozen.

Therefore, with Republican performances such as these, what are Israel and other Democratic partisans looking at when they predict lofty Golden State gains, numbers they must attain to have any chance of competing for the House majority?

One argument is that the turnout model will certainly be different from the one that came to fruition in 2010 because, as the theory goes, President Obama will energize the electorate and increase Democratic turnout. That the voter participation rate will exceed the 2010 mid-term performance is almost certainly true, but with a virtually uncontested presidential race in California and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) facing little credible re-election opposition, will the turnout drive be as strong as the national Democrats believe? Conversely, with a public employee pension reform measure on the statewide ballot and considering the cities of San Jose and San Diego already passed similar propositions in June, could this issue actually provide more juice for Republicans and right of center Independents as opposed to Democrats? The answer is, quite possibly.

Turning to some of the individual races, in order to achieve their statewide goal Democrats would have to beat at least three of the four following incumbents: Dan Lungren (R-CA-7), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-36), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52).

But only in San Diego, despite Republicans outnumbering Democrats 36-33 percent in the new 52nd District, is there a legitimate crack at a vulnerable Republican incumbent. Rep. Bilbray received only 41 percent in the jungle primary but new Democratic opponent Scott Peters, who placed second with only about 23 percent, has vulnerability from his previous controversial service on the San Diego City Council. So, even here, which seems to be the Democrats’ best chance to unseat an incumbent, their conversion bid is far from secure.

Republicans also look to have the upper hand in Districts 21 with Assemblyman David Valadao reaching almost 60 percent in the open seat Central Valley primary, the marginal 26th where they have the stronger candidate, Ventura County state Sen. Tony Strickland, and even in Democratic leaning District 41 (Riverside County), where the combined Republican primary vote formed a majority. Additionally, the Democrats feature a general election candidate there who has already lost three previous congressional campaigns, while the Republicans are promoting a powerful county Supervisor.

Right now, the Democratic victory total is nowhere close to winning 10 or 11 of these 12 seats, as the realistic sum appears closer to five. Instead of gaining four or five California districts, it’s more feasible that the parties will remain constant in their 34D-19R delegation ratio, or quite possibly lose a seat. Such a result virtually guarantees the continuance of the House Republican majority.

More California Primary Updates

With almost 1 million mailed and provisional ballots still being counted after the California primary last Tuesday, a bit more is becoming known about the general election congressional pairings.

In the 2nd District, Republican Dan Roberts has opened up a larger lead for the second general election position. He now has a 1,532 vote advantage over liberal author Norman Solomon (D). Roberts finishing second would be good news for Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D), the first-place qualifier, because the new CA-2 is heavily Democratic and will vote that way in November.

In the 8th District, anchored in San Bernardino County and which then travels up the Nevada border, it now appears certain that a double Republican general election will occur. The smattering of new vote returns places Democrat Jackie Conaway in fourth position and propelled businessman Gregg Imus ahead of Assemblyman Paul Cook for first place. Republican businessman Phil Liberatore is now third. Few uncounted votes remain, so it does appear that Imus and Cook will be the two who advance through to November.

With only 5,100+ votes to tally county-wide in San Bernardino, the CA-31 double Republican general election featuring Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) and state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton appears to be clinched. Miller placed first with 27 percent of the vote, followed closely by Dutton’s 25 percent. Despite Democrats having a 41-35 percent advantage in voter registration, this seat is now guaranteed to send a Republican to Washington for the next Congress.

In San Diego, the picture as to which Democrat will face Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) is becoming somewhat clearer. San Diego Port Commission chair Scott Peters, a former San Diego city councilman, has opened up a 954-vote lead over former state assemblywoman Lori Saldana. The original count separated the two by less than 650 votes. This district will see a competitive general election battle regardless of who becomes Bilbray’s eventual opponent. The Republicans have a 36-32 percent edge in voter registration, but Bilbray failed to break even 42 percent in the June 5 primary.

California Primary Results Still Unfolding

The California primary vote occurred Tuesday, but as many as eight congressional races are still unresolved. Because the California election law allows mail votes, which now normally comprise more than half of the cast ballots, the counting process drags on for days. The Secretary of State estimates that the counties are now sorting, counting, and reporting hundreds of thousands of additional primary votes.

For example, Los Angeles County indicates that it is handling 162,108 mailed, delivered, and provisional ballots. A “delivered” ballot is one where the voter actually returns his mail ballot to the polling place. San Diego County estimates 135,000+ votes remain to be counted. San Bernardino, the site of the two of the eight undeclared elections, has only 13,911 ballots remaining.

The biggest surprise race in the undeclared category is right in San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District, the place where Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) is attempting to seek re-election. Under a rudimentary calculation formula based upon only publicly available information, it appears that just 5-10,000 votes remain to be counted. If true, this means Mr. Miller will qualify for the general election because he placed first with 27 percent in the jungle primary. As you will remember, California now has a top-two finisher law, meaning that the top two vote-getters, regardless of political party affiliation, advance to the November general election.

In second place, at 25 percent, is Miller’s fellow Republican Bob Dutton, the state Senate Minority Leader. Posting 23 percent, some 1,500 votes behind Dutton, is Redlands Democratic Mayor Paul Aguilar. If there are less than 10,000 votes remaining, then it would be extremely difficult for Aguilar to make up the difference between he and Dutton. Failing to do so means the Republicans would qualify both candidates for the general election here, guaranteeing the party will win this very marginal seat. Such a result will be a huge boon to the Republicans and certainly Rep. Miller.

Also partially in San Bernardino, the new 8th District that should elect a Republican in the general election, is in a virtual four-way tie, though the later numbers suggest that GOP Assemblyman Paul Cook and businessman Gregg Imus (R) will qualify for the general election. The other very close competitors are Democratic businesswoman Jackie Conaway, and Republican accountant Phil Liberatore. If Cook and Imus qualify for the general election, a second double Republican campaign will evolve.

In northern California’s 2nd District, the seat from which Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) is retiring, state Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) has secured a general election position. The open question is whether Republican Dan Roberts, currently second, or liberal author Norman Solomon will qualify for November. Huffman becomes the clear general election winner should Roberts hold onto second place because the seat is so heavily Democratic in general elections.

In San Diego, Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50), who scored an underwhelming 41 percent in the new 52nd CD, has qualified for the general election. He waits to see whether San Diego Port Commission chairman and former city councilman Scott Peters will be his opponent or ex-assemblywoman Lori Saldana. The two are only separated by 645 votes (meaning less than one percentage point), and the order could easily change when the estimated 35,000+ uncounted ballots are added to the total. Whatever the final result, Bilbray will have a highly competitive race on his hands in November.

In the new Central Valley 21st District, anchored in and between the cities of Bakersfield and Fresno, GOP state Assemblyman David Valadao easily captured the first position with 57 percent of the vote and waits to see if former Hispanic Chamber of Commerce president John Hernandez or Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong will qualify to challenge him later this year. Hernandez leads Xiong by 1,046 votes with an unknown number of ballots remaining to be counted. Against either man, Valadao becomes the prohibitive favorite for the open seat win in November, which would neutralize the Republican loss of retiring Rep. David Dreier’s (R-CA-26) seat in Los Angeles County, from a delegation count perspective.

Though the following elections will not be competitive in the general election because all of the succeeding incumbents will cruise in the November vote, Reps. Doris Matsui (D-CA-6), Judy Chu (D-CA-27), and Linda Sanchez (D-CA-38) all await a determination as to who they will face in the general election.

California House races will be heavily discussed throughout the remaining cycle because of the large number of competitive races that are on tap. Right now, it appears Democrats are secure in 27 of the state’s 53 congressional districts, Republicans’ 13, with five Democratic-held seats and four Republican-held seats headed for strong general election competition.

Four new open seats, including the aforementioned CA-21, are up for grabs. Three of the four (Districts 26, 41, and 47) appear to be headed to the toss-up or “tilt” categories. Republicans Tony Strickland and John Tavaglione appear to have the early advantage in Districts 26 (Ventura) and 41 (Riverside), respectively. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) has a slight edge in new District 47 (Long Beach area), but his primary performance (34 percent) was clearly unimpressive. His GOP opponent is Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong who ran stronger than expected, scoring 29 percent, and eliminated former one-term Rep. Steve Kuykendall (R-CA-36).