Tag Archives: San Diego

Democrats Maneuver in San Diego

By Jim Ellis

Feb. 27, 2018 — Two noteworthy Democrat events happened in San Diego over the past few days.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D)

First, the California Democratic Party state convention, meeting in San Diego over the weekend, actually denied veteran Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) the party endorsement. Though the delegates came close to endorsing state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles), he also fell short.

In the vote to award the party endorsement for the 2018 US Senate race, it was state Sen. de Leon capturing 54 percent of the delegate votes as compared to only 37 percent for incumbent Sen. Feinstein. A total of 60 percent was needed for endorsement. This is not the first time that the liberal grassroots delegates have turned away from Feinstein. According to an NPR account of the convention proceedings, the party delegates chose then-Attorney General John Van de Kamp over Feinstein in the 1990 governor’s race.

The lack of an endorsement will not hurt the senator’s campaign, however. A January Public Policy Institute of California poll (Jan. 21-30; 1,705 California adults) favored Sen. Feinstein over Mr. de Leon, 46-17 percent, when tested in the jungle primary format. She has an even more commanding lead in campaign resources. The year-end Federal Election Commission disclosure report finds her holding just under $10 million in her campaign account as compared to an embarrassingly low $359,000 for de Leon.
Continue reading

Republican Senate Movement in Hawaii, Mississippi


Though America’s 50th state is heavily Democratic, intra-party political developments may yield extra value to Hawaii’s Republican senatorial nomination. A very tough Democratic primary held late in the cycle (Aug. 9) could potentially cause enough partisan upheaval to put the general election in play. Hence, former congressman, Honolulu City councilman, and state Rep. Charles Djou (R-HI-1) is reportedly considering filing as a senatorial candidate.

Djou won a special congressional election in early 2010 to fill then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie’s (D-HI-1) final term in the House when the latter resigned to spend full-time campaigning for governor. In the regular election later in the year, however, he fell to then-state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa (D), 44-50 percent.

Most analysts and observers expected him to run again in the open 1st District, since incumbent Hanabusa is challenging appointed Sen. Brian Schatz in the  Continue reading >

San Diego Shocker

Councilman Carl DeMaio

Councilman Carl DeMaio

It looked to be a foregone conclusion that former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio (R), who lost a close 52-48 percent election to now-resigned Mayor Bob Filner (D) just last November, would run in the special mayoral election to be held before the end of this year. Not so, according to DeMaio’s announcement yesterday.

Almost immediately after his 2012 loss, DeMaio switched gears into a congressional campaign against freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52). Peters unseated Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) by an even closer 51-49 percent count on the same day that DeMaio lost to Filner. With strong fundraising and polling – two surveys actually posted DeMaio ahead of Peters by 10 and 11 points from data collected two months apart – the former municipal candidate was becoming one of the strongest Republican congressional challengers in the nation.

There appear to be several major reasons DeMaio has decided to bypass what looks to be a winnable mayor’s race in order to stay in what, on paper, should be a tougher congressional contest against a well-funded incumbent, and they all relate to mathematics. In fact, multiple numbers point to DeMaio having a better chance to attain victory in the congressional race than running citywide.

First, while the early congressional polls place him ahead of Rep. Peters, as we previously mentioned, the one public survey released for the prospective mayoral campaign showed him trailing; one point behind former state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher who has flipped his voter registration from Republican to Independent to Democrat in less than  Continue reading >

Filner Resignation Affects House Race

It appears that the San Diego City Council and scandal-ridden Mayor Bob Filner have reached a tentative resignation agreement, but the ensuing mayoral replacement process will probably adversely affect Republican chances of unseating freshman Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA-52).

Apparently Filner’s lawyers have prepared a document that outlines their client’s departure terms. The council is dealing with the situation in closed session, so the public is not yet privy to what’s contained in the settlement. Attorney Gloria Allred, representing one of the women that the mayor and former congressman allegedly sexually harassed, is saying that the proposal includes a provision for the city to pay Filner’s legal fees. Allred is voicing opposition to such an arrangement and it is likely that she won’t be the only one to object. Therefore, the end of the Filner tenure may not be as close as media reports suggest.

Regardless of when the mayor leaves office, a special election will be conducted for voters to choose a replacement. The legal calendar dictates that the special primary be scheduled within 90 days of the vacancy occurring, followed by a run-off contest between the top two finishers within an additional 49 days if no candidate receives an outright majority in the first election.

Former city councilman Carl DeMaio (R) lost a close 52-48 percent election to Filner last November, after placing first in the primary election. Upon absorbing the loss, DeMaio began taking steps to challenge freshman Rep. Peters, citing 2012 precinct vote totals. The figures prove that he out-polled Filner by 12 percentage points in CD-52’s overlapping city portion. The district area outside the city is even more Republican, so to argue that DeMaio, or any other Republican candidate, would do better outside San Diego than inside is reasonable.

The budding congressional race was developing into a major campaign and one of the best Republican conversion opportunities in the country. Both candidates reported robust fundraising in late June – Peters more than $621,000 raised with $525,890 cash-on-hand; DeMaio an impressive $487,983 raised with $469,644 in the bank – while two early polls staked the challenger to a sizable lead. The Tarrance Group, for Mr. DeMaio back in April, posted their client to a 49-39 percent advantage over the new incumbent. In June, Survey USA confirmed the spread, reporting  Continue reading >

Three States, Three Different Approaches


A major political decision announced just yesterday will help a Pennsylvania freshman Republican congressman. In November, businessman Keith Rothfus (R) unseated incumbent Rep. Mark Critz (D) in the newly drawn 12th Congressional District.

Critz was originally paired with then-Rep. Jason Altmire (D) in the one district after PA lost a seat in reapportionment. The sophomore congressman prevailed over Altmire in a close, hard-fought contest, but then Critz went on to lose the general election to Rothfus 48-52 percent, despite President Obama again carrying Pennsylvania.

Since the election, it was assumed that Critz would seek a re-match with congressman Rothfus in an attempt to regain his lost position. Critz, however, has decided on a different political direction. Instead of again running for Congress, the ex-member will now run for lieutenant governor. With the Democrats appearing well positioned to unseat Gov. Tom Corbett (R), riding on a ticket with the Democratic gubernatorial nominee could allow Critz to sail back into office.

In Pennsylvania, candidates for lieutenant governor run independently in the primary but, once nominated, are paired with the gubernatorial nominee on a general election ticket. The leading Democratic gubernatorial contender is Critz’s former congressional colleague, Rep. Allyson Schwartz (D-PA-13). As a political team, the two would strike a balance between the dominant liberal wing of the Democratic Party and its more moderate faction.


With the polls showing that Rep. Mike Michaud (D-ME-2) would defeat Gov. Paul LePage (R) even in a three-way match with Independent attorney Eliot Cutler, the congressman will officially announce his gubernatorial campaign later today. Earlier, Michaud had formed a gubernatorial exploratory committee.

While Michaud’s prospects appear strong in the governor’s contest, the battle for his open House seat could reflect a different complexion. Though the Democrats will be viewed as likely winners early in the race, a strong Republican candidate could become highly competitive in an inland western  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.