Monthly Archives: June 2012

California Primary Highlights

The new California primary, as we knew it would with the new voting system that sends the top two finishers to the general election regardless of political party affiliation, produced some surprises.

We will provide in-depth coverage of these results when the large number of absentee ballots are finally added to last night’s totals, numbers that could change the order of some of the individual race standings. But, for now, the highlights:

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, considering this is largely a Democratic seat, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42), a major redistricting victim, appears to have qualified for the general election in the San Bernardino-based 31st District, very possibly against another Republican. With the election night votes counted, Miller led the jungle primary with 27 percent of the vote, no small feat in a new district where he has literally no carry over from his previous constituency, while state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R) is currently placing second with 25 percent. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) is third with 23 percent, but the absentee ballots could alter this order. Should it stand, this result would be a boon for Republicans because it would guarantee the party’s victory in the fall, since the general election would be between two members of the GOP. This would be an extraordinary outcome in a district that likely will elect Democrats in most elections.

Absentee ballots will definitely decide the outcome of the new 8th District, also largely a San Bernardino County seat, just to the east and north of CA-31. There, a four-way split among three Republicans and a Democrat will be sorted out to determine which two individuals advance to the general election. Two Republicans, right now, lead, but all four candidates are showing a 15 percent total. The pair of leaders are Assemblyman Paul Cook and homebuilder Gregg Imus. Democrat Jackie Conaway, a law office manager, is third and businessman Phil Liberatore, another Republican, is fourth, but the order could change drastically once all of the ballots are finally tabulated. San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, originally thought to be a potential general election qualifier, is in fifth place with 11 percent and likely out of the competition.

In the 30th District mega-congressional race between Democratic incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, both will qualify for the double-Democratic general election. Sherman placed first, with 42 percent, over Berman (32 percent). This is likely to become the most expensive congressional race in the United States. Sherman currently represents 58 percent of this new district while Berman only has 20 percent, thus explaining the order of last night’s outcome.

In another Democratic incumbent pairing, freshman Rep. Janice Hahn claimed a 60-40 percent placement victory against Rep. Laura Richardson, meaning the two will again square-off in the general election. Only about 33,000 votes were cast in this election, not counting more absentee ballots to follow but, since this was already a two-way race, the two would have advanced to the general election regardless of last night’s outcome.

In one of the new seats that the California redistricting commission created, GOP state Assemblyman David Valadao scored 57 percent against two Democrats in his Bakersfield-anchored congressional seat. Unless the absentees change the order, Valadao will face businessman John Hernandez in the general election and not Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong, as many expected. The size of Valadao’s primary victory gives him a major advantage in the general election. Such an outcome would be another major score for the California GOP.

In the marginal 26th District, GOP state Sen. Tony Strickland will advance to the general election very likely against state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D). Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, a Republican who chose to run in this race as an Independent, is third, some eight percentage points behind Brownley so it is unlikely that the absentee count will change this order.

In the Oakland area, 20-term Rep. Pete Stark is headed for a double-Democratic general election against Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, as expected. This could become, however, a very serious contest as Stark only finished first last night by a 42-36 percent margin. This is a campaign to watch in the fall because Stark is clearly in jeopardy of losing his seat, but the Democrats retain the district regardless of the final outcome.

In a race that avoided a double-Democrat general election, state Assemblyman Jared Huffman advanced to the November vote and will claim the seat at that time, as Republican Dan Roberts edged a split Democratic field for second place. The Democratic nature of the CD will yield an easy Huffman win later this year. Had another Democrat qualified, this contest would have become very interesting.

A dozen incumbents, including members such as Stark, Henry Waxman, Jeff Denham, Lois Capps, Grace Napolitano and Brian Bilbray to name a few, finished with less than 50 percent of the total vote, suggesting further potential competition in the general election.

Much more to come on the California races once the final vote tallies become known.

Walker’s Convincing Win in Wisconsin; NJ-9 Surprise

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) handily repelled his recall challenge with a 53-46 percent victory over Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett (D) with a turnout larger than the 2010 midterm vote that originally elected him. The extraordinary outcome yielded a voter participation rate exceeding 2.5 million voters. In the 2010 midterm election, the total turnout was just under 2.2 million. Walker won that election over Barrett 52-46 percent, so he even slightly increased his margin of victory, too. The 2008 presidential election year turnout saw 2.9 million Wisconsin voters going to the polls, putting the size of the recall participation rate into perspective.

In a separate race, even though the two ran as a team in the midterm, Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch (R) also survived her recall, 53-47 percent. Three of the four Republican state senators who were facing recalls also won, but the lone Democratic victory does flip majority control by one vote. Much more in-depth analysis will be forthcoming about this race in the coming days.

In New Jersey’s new 9th Congressional District, in what was projected as a close contest between paired incumbents Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8), recorded the exact opposite result. Veteran Rep. Pascrell, trumpeting his backing from former President Bill Clinton but long thought to be the underdog here, scored an impressive 61-39 percent victory over Rep. Rothman. This is especially stunning considering that two of the three Democratic county party structures officially endorsed Rothman. Pascrell rode a huge turnout and overwhelming 92 percent loyalty factor from his Democratic voting base in Passaic County, thus leading to his strong victory. He will now cruise in the general election.

Major Primary Voting Today

Today, Gov. Scott Walker (R) faces Wisconsin voters to determine whether he should be recalled from office. All late polling shows a very close race, with Walker right at the 50 percent mark and his Democratic opponent, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, hovering in the high 40s. Clearly, this race will come down to favoring the side that does the best job of turning out its votes.

In New Jersey, 9th District Democratic voters are forced to choose between incumbent Reps. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8) and Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9). The winner of today’s vote will claim the seat in the November general election. A tight finish is forecast. New Jersey lost a district in reapportionment, which forced these two incumbents to fight for one seat.

Turning to Iowa, Rep. David Loebsack (D-IA-2) is the prohibitive favorite to repel a primary challenge from state Sen. Joe Seng. The state legislator appears strong on paper but is making little effort to secure the congressional nomination.

Out west, New Mexico’s 1st District open seat Democratic primary is in toss-up mode. Statewide, Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) and former representative Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) will win their respective parties’ Senatorial nominations. Likewise for Rep. Denny Rehberg (R) and Sen. Jon Tester (D) in Montana. Voters will also nominate a Democrat and Republican in the open at-large Treasure State House seat tonight. South Dakota voters will choose a Democratic opponent for freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (R-SD-AL).

But the state with the most elections is California, where a new primary election law is changing the face of Golden State politics. Today, the top two finishers in every district election will qualify for the November vote regardless of political party affiliation. This will likely lead to at least seven Democrat vs. Democrat general elections and possibly two Republican vs. Republican. See yesterday’s post for a breakdown of how the races look going into the election there.

Calif. Primary Preview

Tomorrow, California voters go to the polls along with those in five other states, the latter we reviewed on Friday. Because of the Golden State’s new primary election law, the top two finishers in all partisan elections will advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. This, along with a congressional redistricting map that adds more competition to California politics, creates an entirely new dynamic and changes campaign strategies. For a state that defeated only one incumbent during the entire last decade, as many as 22 of the 53 congressional seats will see some level of legitimate competition.

District 1 (Wally Herger-R retiring: Open Seat) – This northern-most California open seat will almost assuredly stay in the Republican column. Tomorrow’s vote will answer whether this will be a double-Republican general election, meaning state Sen. Doug LaMalfa and former state senator Sam Aanestad both qualifying for the November vote. Or will Democrat Jim Reed slip into second place by solidifying the Democrats?

District 2 (Lynn Woolsey-D retiring: Open Seat) – This Marin County/north coast district will go Democratic in the fall and will likely see two Democrats move into the general election. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) will certainly be one qualifier. The question is will liberal author Norman Solomon or businesswoman Stacey Lawson secure the second position.

District 3 (John Garamendi-D) – Expect Rep. Garamendi and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann (R) to be the general election participants in what should be a competitive general election, in a seat that is much more Republican than the incumbent’s current 10th District.

District 7 (Dan Lungren-R) – Tomorrow’s vote will likely yield a re-match between Rep. Lungren and physician Ami Bera in what again promises to be a competitive general election. Lungren is favored, but not by much.

District 8 (Jerry Lewis-R retiring: Open Seat) – The new 8th District, stretching northward from San Bernardino up the California-Nevada border, will likely send two Republicans to the general election. Assemblyman Paul Cook (R) will probably advance with eight Republicans vying for the second position.

District 9 (Jerry McNerney-D) – This Stockton-San Joaquin Valley seat is much different from Mr. McNerney’s previous district. It is decidedly Democratic, but Republican Ricky Gill has already raised well over $1 million. This general election battle could get very interesting, but McNerney is the clear favorite.

District 10 (Jeff Denham-R) – Retired astronaut Jose Hernandez (D) will likely be the qualifier against freshman Rep. Jeff Denham in a district that has only a 38 percent carry-over rate from his current district. National Democrats like Hernandez. Denham is the decided favorite.

District 15 (Pete Stark-D) – Expect a double-Democrat general election between Rep. Stark and Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell. Stark only represents 46 percent of the new district, so things could get very interesting here in November.

District 16 (Jim Costa-D) – Rep. Costa decided to run in this Central Valley district rather than the new 21st that contains 79 percent of his current constituency. Rep. Dennis Cardoza’s retirement allowed Costa to run here, which is a more Democratic district. This seat could become competitive in the general election, but the Republican qualifier will likely be a relatively weak candidate. Costa has the inside track to re-election.

District 21 (Open Seat) – Rep. Costa not running here gives the Republicans their best conversion opportunity in the state in the person of Assemblyman David Valadao. Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong will likely be the Democratic qualifier. Valadao is favored in November.

District 24 (Lois Capps-D) – The new redistricting plan created several very marginal districts, and this Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo County district is one of them. Former lieutenant governor and state Sen. Abel Maldonado (R) will advance to the general election and oppose Rep. Capps. This will be one of the hottest congressional races in the country and is a pure toss-up.

District 26 (Elton Gallegly-R retiring: Open Seat) – The 26th is another very marginal district that both parties can win. Republicans will advance state Sen. Tony Strickland to the general election. The second position will be a fight between Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) and Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, a Republican who is running as an Independent.

District 29 (Open Seat) – This will be another double-Democrat general election and will heavily favor Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas to be the eventual winner.

District 30 (Brad Sherman-D/Howard Berman-D) – This likely double-Democrat general election will be the most expensive congressional race in the country as veteran Reps. Brad Sherman and Howard Berman must square-off for this one seat. Sherman represents 58 percent of this new constituency, while Berman has only 20 percent carry over from his current 28th CD. This will be a hard-fought and bitter general election battle.

District 31 (Gary Miller-R) – Rep. Miller’s move to the 31st District avoids a pairing with fellow Republican Rep. Ed Royce in new District 39. The vote tomorrow will determine which of three candidates qualifies for the general election: Miller, state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton, and Redlands Democratic Mayor Pete Aguilar. Miller represents no people in the new 31st and hopped over here when Rep. Jerry Lewis, a resident of this district, announced he would retire. This is one of the most interesting races in the entire state. A likely general election toss-up.

District 35 (Rep. Joe Baca-D) – Rep. Baca gives up District 31, which includes his home city of Rialto, to run against Democratic state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod. Both will qualify for the general election and set up another double Democrat campaign. Baca represents 61 percent of the heavily Hispanic Ontario-based district. This could be a competitive November election, but no doubt a safe Democratic seat.

District 36 (Mary Bono Mack-R) – Rep. Bono Mack gets a CD fully contained within Riverside County and is two points more Republican than her previous district. She and emergency room physician Raul Ruiz and she are the only candidates who have filed, so both will advance to the general election regardless of tomorrow’s vote. Bono Mack is a big favorite in November.

District 41 (Open Seat) – The new Riverside County congressional seat is another of the marginal seats created in the 2011 redistricting plan. The two likely general election participants are Democrat Mark Takano, who has already lost three congressional races in this region, and Republican County Supervisor John Tavaglione. This will be a toss-up election in the fall.

District 44 (Janice Hahn-D/Laura Richardson-D) – Another of the incumbent pairings, this campaign will go to the general election featuring two Democratic Reps, Hahn and Richardson, in a heavily minority district. The real battle here begins on Wednesday morning.

District 47 (Open Seat) – Another new open seat has been created in the Long Beach area. State Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) is likely to be a general election finalist. The second position could go to Republican Long Beach City Councilman Gary DeLong. Former representative Steve Kuykendall (R-CA-36) is in the race, but does not appear to have caught fire. Democrats are favored here in November, but the GOP does have an outside chance at scoring an upset.

District 51 (Bob Filner-D, running for San Diego mayor: Open Seat) – This will be yet another double-Democrat general election. Expect state Sen. Juan Vargas and former state Sen. Denise Moreno Ducheny to qualify for the general.

District 52 (Brian Bilbray-R) – This is another challenger race that could become serious in a district that is only a 40 percent carry over from Rep. Bilbray’s current CD. The congressman should finish first tomorrow night. The big question is will the second place finisher be Democrat Scott Peters, the San Diego Port Commission chairman, or former state assemblywoman Lori Saldana.

The Big June 5th Primary is Fast Approaching

Next Tuesday, six states go to the polls to nominate Senate and House candidates, and possibly recall a governor. On Monday, we’ll cover all of the hot California races. Today, we look at the other states voting on June 5.

Iowa: In a state promising to be a hotbed of presidential campaign activity in the general election, two, and possibly three, House seats will also be highly competitive. The contenders in Districts 3 and 4 are already set. District 3, anchored in Des Moines and Council Bluffs, will feature a general election incumbent pairing between veteran representatives Leonard Boswell (D-IA-3) and Tom Latham (R-IA-4). The new 3rd is very marginal, and this will be a close race. But Tuesday’s primary carries no drama for either man. To the northwest is new District 4, featuring Rep. Steve King (R-IA-5) defending his position against Christie Vilsack (D), the state’s former First Lady. The seat leans Republican, so King is favored, but, as in District 3, Tuesday’s vote is already well-defined.

In the southeastern 2nd District, Rep. David Loebsack (D) faces Davenport state Sen. Joe Seng. Loebsack should hold, but he loses his Cedar Rapids power base to District 1 and adds Davenport, a city he has not previously represented but one in which Seng has served in local government as well as the state legislature. The 2nd has the chance of becoming moderately competitive in the general election particularly if Seng pulls a big upset over the incumbent on Tuesday.

Montana: A gubernatorial primary is underway for the state’s at-large open seat. Attorney General Steve Bullock is the prohibitive favorite in the Democratic primary. Former Rep. Rick Hill (R-MT-AL) is attempting a political comeback in this race after being out of office for 12 years. The Senate competitors are already set: Sen. Jon Tester (D) and Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-MT-AL). In the open House race, former lieutenant governor nominee Steve Daines has the inside track to the Republican nomination, while the Democrats are in a battle among seven candidates led by state Sen. Kim Gillian and state Rep. Franke Wilmer.

New Jersey: The races here are quiet except for the 9th District Democratic pairing between representatives Steve Rothman (D-NJ-9) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ-8). This race has been hotly contested for weeks and turned nasty on several occasions. Most believe Rothman has the slight advantage, particularly with official party endorsements in two of the district’s three counties. Pascrell needs a larger than normal turnout in Passaic County to snatch a close win. Surprisingly, the mayor of the district’s largest city, Paterson, has endorsed Rothman as has a member of the city council. These endorsements sting Pascrell because he was a former Paterson mayor before being elected to Congress. The representative does have former president Bill Clinton’s public support. A wild finish is guaranteed here.

New Mexico: In the Senate campaign, it appears that Rep. Martin Heinrich (D-NM-1) and ex-Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM-1) are headed for their respective party nominations. This will be a highly competitive general election. In Heinrich’s open House race, a tight Democratic primary is evolving. Polls show state Sen. Eric Griego and Bernalillo County commissioner and former congressional candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham to be in a virtual tie, with former Albuquerque mayor Martin Chavez trailing the duo. There is no run-off election in New Mexico, so this race will likely being decided on Tuesday by only a handful of votes. Republicans will nominate former state Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones. The eventual Democratic nominee has the inside track for the fall election.

South Dakota: Little in the way of contests are occurring in South Dakota. There is no Senate race this year, and freshman Rep. Kristi Noem (R) is positioning herself for a second term. For the Democrats, Minnehaha County Commissioner Jeff Barth and former congressional aide Matt Varilek vie for the right to challenge Noem. Though South Dakota does feature a run-off, the two-way race guarantees that Democratic voters will choose a nominee on Tuesday night. Noem will be a big favorite in the general election.

Wisconsin: Finally, the long-awaited recall election for Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) will be decided next Tuesday. Momentum had been swinging Walker’s way and he still seems to have more energy behind his candidacy than does Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, his Democratic opponent. At least one survey, however, the Lake Research poll taken for the Democratic Party, shows the race to be a tie. All others give Walker a slight lead. The race will turn on the rate of voter participation and both sides are gearing up for a major effort. The result here could be a harbinger for the general election, certainly in Wisconsin, but possibly nationwide, too. Arguably, this race will have the greatest effect on national politics of any June 5 campaign.

The plethora of California congressional races will be covered in our Monday report.