Category Archives: CALIFORNIA

California’s Strange Special Election in District 22 Held Yesterday

By Jim Ellis

Connie Conway (R)

April 6, 2022 — Voters in California’s Central Valley region have had their special congressional election wrap up as of yesterday. Former Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) resigned at the beginning of this year, and Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) scheduled a special election to fill the balance of the term even though this seat will disappear in the next Congress.

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members significantly re-drew the Fresno area, and Nunes’ 22nd District largely became the new 5th CD that stretches northerly from the Fresno area’s northeast sector to the outer Sacramento suburbs. The new 5th is strongly Republican, and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) sought re-election from this district. Had Nunes wanted to remain in Congress, this is the seat where he would have run.

Such being the case, the current 22nd District that former President Trump carried 52-46 percent and where Rep. Nunes averaged 61.7 percent of the vote during the five elections of the past decade, is split into four different seats, meaning last night’s special election winner really has no place to run in the general election. Therefore, the new member will serve just the balance of this year and retire.

Despite the lack of a congressional future, the 22nd District special drew four Republicans and two Democratic contenders. The race leader as of this writing is former state Assembly Minority Leader Connie Conway (R), who had said from the beginning that she would only serve the remainder of this term. She currently leads the race with 34.8 percent. It will take a week before results can be finalized due to mail-in votes that still need to be tabulated.

Another Republican, Elizabeth Heng, who held Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) to a 57-43 percent victory in the current 16th CD (Rep. Costa is seeking re-election this year in the new 21st District), was also in the race. She was originally talking about running for the full term in the neighboring 13th District, a marginally competitive open seat, but did not file for the regular election.

The other Republican candidates were former FBI agent Michael Maher and retired Navy officer Matt Stoll. The Democrats were Lourin Hubbard, an operations manager at the California Department of Water Resources, and graduate student Eric Garcia.

In this special election, all of the candidates were placed on one ballot. If a contender received a majority of 50 percent plus one vote, said individual is elected outright and would be sworn into the House upon the California Secretary of State officially certifying the election. If no one received a majority, the top two finishers, regardless of party preference, would advance to a special general election run concurrently with the regular California primary election on June 7; with Conway’s tally currently standing at just 34.8 percent of the vote, it looks like things are headed that way.

Though the seat will be occupied for only a short time, this is an important election. Five seats are currently vacant, the number increasing with the resignations of Reps. Jeff Fortenberry (R-NE) and Filemon Vela (D-TX) last week on March 31, and four are from the Republican side. This reduces the Republican conference temporarily to 209.

If the Republican party holds the 22nd CD in this special election cycle, and a Republican candidate ulitimately will likely win, the conference would grow to 210, with the majority Democrats at 221. If the Republicans hold the AK-at large, MN-1, and NE-1 seats in their own scheduled special elections later in the year, the party will again hold 213 seats. Democrats, on the other hand, look to drop to 220 when Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) resigns.

It is possible we will not see special elections in the Texas and Florida Democratic vacancies until the regular general election date. It appears that both Govs. Greg Abbott (R-TX) and Ron DeSantis (R-FL) have the legal leeway to schedule concurrently with the regular general election to fill the Vela and Deutch vacancies.

California’s current 22nd District is comprised of parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties and includes the northeastern portion of Fresno city and the communities of Clovis, Dinuba, Visalia, and Tulare.

DCCC’s Red to Blue Targets

By Jim Ellis

March 14, 2022 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released their first targets in what they call their Red to Blue program or, in other words, the districts they hope to convert from Republican to Democrat. Curiously, two districts on the list are already blue.

Below is a look at the DCCC’s dozen released targets:


CA-22: Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.4% in District 21

• FiveThirtyEight: D+10
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 42.3% R / 55.1% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Assemblyman Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield)

By the numbers, this is one of the Democrats’ best national targets, but Rep. Valadao has consistently won in Democratic seats. He lost in 2018, but won the seat back two years later. Assemblyman Salas is the Democrats’ top recruitment target. Despite the lopsided Democratic numerical advantage, the finish here will again likely be razor-thin.


CA-45: Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County)
2020 Win Percentage: 51.1% in District 48

• FiveThirtyEight: D+5
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 45.8% R / 52.2% D
Endorsed Candidate: Jay Chen – Community College Trustee

Freshman Rep. Steel is another Republican to whom the California Citizens Redistricting Commission members were not kind. Moving into the more inland Orange County district from her coastal seat, Steel has been a well known figure in Orange County politics for many years, particularly with her service time on the Orange County Board of Supervisors before winning the congressional seat.

A D+5 seat is exactly the type the Republicans must win to achieve their goal of re-taking the majority. With national redistricting cutting against them, the GOP must win a sizable number of the 22 seats so far within the Even to D+5 category.


CO-7: Rep. Ed Perlmutter (D-Arvada) – Open Seat
2020 Win Percentage: 59.1%

• FiveThirtyEight: D+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 43.8% R / 51.7% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Brittany Petterson (D-Lakewood)

This district does not really belong on the list since it is already a blue seat. Democrats are favored to hold the seat and Sen. Petterson is clearly their candidate to do so.


IA-1: Rep. Mariannette Miller-Meeks (R-Ottumwa)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% (6 votes districtwide) in District 2

• FiveThirtyEight: R+4
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 49.7% R / 46.8% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Rep. Christina Bohannan (D-Iowa City)

Rep. Miller-Meeks won the closest race in the country in 2020, a literal six-vote affair against former state senator and 2018 lieutenant governor nominee Rita Hart (D). This year, the congresswoman will see a different opponent since Hart chose not to return for a re-match. State Rep. Bohannan has two Democratic opponents, but she should have little trouble in winning the party nomination on June 7.

This will be another close eastern Iowa campaign, and this district is actually one point more Democratic than the previous 2nd according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical organization. This is a top Democratic target, but Rep. Milller-Meeks will be favored assuming the political climate remains favorable for Republicans.


IA-2: Rep. Ashley Hinson (R-Marion/Cedar Rapids)
2020 Win Percentage: 50.0% in District 1

• FiveThirtyEight: R+6
• Dave’s Redistricting App: 51.1% R / 45.4% D
Endorsed Candidate: State Sen. Liz Mathis (D-Hiawatha)

In the first redistricting map presented last year, Rep. Hinson would likely have been defeated. With the legislature rejecting that draw, a new one emerged. This gives the congresswoman a more favorable seat but one this is still highly competitive. Democrats have recruited a strong candidate in Sen. Mathis. She has no primary opposition at this time. In a favorable GOP political climate, this seat would become difficult for the Democrats to convert despite its statistical closeness.
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Redistricting Challenges – Part II

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 26, 2022 — Yesterday, we covered the US House members whose districts have changed to the point of having seats where a majority of their new constituencies are unfamiliar. Today, we delve deeper.

To reiterate, a total of 28 states have now completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

In 16 specific instances the outlook is seriously negative as nine Democratic members and five Republicans face major challenges toward continuing their congressional careers.

The members in the worst situations are those paired with another incumbent. Illinois Rep. Sean Casten (D-Downers Grove) faces freshman Rep. Marie Newman (D-La Grange). Casten has only a quarter of the new Chicago suburban constituency as compared to Newman’s 42.9 percent carryover factor. Her home base in La Grange, however, is not included in the new 6th District.

Remaining in Illinois, neither paired Republican Reps. Mary Miller (R-Oakland) nor Rodney Davis (R-Taylorville) have large constituencies in the new 15th CD. Rep. Miller has only a 34.7 percent carryover factor from the current 15th but is larger than her opponent’s, Mr. Davis, 30.8 percent figure coming from his 13th CD.

Michigan Rep. Bill Huizenga (R-Holland) has announced that he will run in his state’s new 4th District, meaning a pairing with veteran Rep. Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph). He has only 25.1 percent of his constituents in the new 4th as compared to Upton’s much stronger 68.8 percent carryover factor. Still, Rep. Upton says he is unsure as to whether he will seek re-election to a 19th term.

Staying in Michigan, Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomington Township) has decided to enter in a paired battle with Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills). He has only 26.7 percent of his current 9th District constituency in the new 11th CD as compared to Rep. Stevens’ having 46.1 percent coming from her current 11th District. Her home base of Rochester Hills, however, does not carryover, while Rep. Levin’s base in Bloomington Township becomes the anchor population in the new CD.

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Redistricting Challenges – Part I

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 25, 2022 — Today we begin a two-part series about incumbent US House members who could be considered redistricting “victims”, meaning those who find themselves in districts with a largely unfamiliar constituency.

A total of 27 states have completed their redistricting process, and 41 incumbents seeking re-election in these places will be in new seats where a majority of the electorate has not previously seen their names on the congressional ballot.

Interestingly, many of the changes are positive for some of the members in question, because the new constituents are favorable to the incumbent’s party. Others, however, face potentially tough re-nomination or re-election battles, and some will see challenges coming from both Republicans and Democrats.

Interestingly, the four incumbents with the most new constituents, those having a district where a range from just 10 to 20 percent of their current electorates are present in the new CD, actually chose to run in the new places. Each eschewed a seat where they have a larger number of current voters.


Texas Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D-Austin) has the least carryover of any member from a redistricting completed state. Moving from his current 35th District into the new 37th CD means just 10.0 percent of his current constituents reside in the succeeding district. Placing Doggett here was not the intent of the map drawers, however, as the 37th was meant to be one of the state’s two new seats, a Democratic district fully contained within Austin’s Travis County.

Doggett’s 35th District is now the open seat, in a domain that again stretches from Austin to San Antonio. Had he stayed in the 35th, a total of 60.7 percent of his constituency would have remained constant, according to the Daily Kos Elections site statisticians who have calculated the redistribution percentages for all of the states that have completed redistricting.

Rep. Doggett faces little in the way of Democratic primary opposition, and the new 37th is a similar Austin-anchored seat to his original 10th District in which he began his US House career back in 1995.

North Carolina Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-Hendersonville) chose to run in the 13th District, which was designed to be that state’s new seat. Despite having only 11.1 percent of his current constituency in the new district, Rep. Cawthorn likes his chances. The 13th lies closer to the Charlotte metro area in comparison to his current western North Carolina seat.

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Two More House Dems to Retire

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 20, 2022 — Setting off a game of political musical chairs, eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced Tuesday that he will not seek a ninth term later this year. Rhode Island US Rep. Jim Langevin (D-Warwick) also announced that he will not seek re-election later this year.

CA-9; CA-13; current CA-22

Eight-term California Democrat US Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) announced his retirement this week.

Originally elected to a Bay Area-anchored district in 2006 when he defeated veteran Rep. Richard Pombo (R), McNerney’s then-11th District was moved into the San Joaquin Valley because of 2011 redistricting. The new 9th District will still be anchored in the city of Stockton, but the updated version is somewhat more Republican than the current CA-9. The Congressman would have been favored for re-election, however.

Immediately upon McNerney’s announcement, Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock), who had decided to seek re-election in the new 13th District after his current 10th District was divided into various parts under the new redistricting plan, declared that he will run to succeed the retiring congressman. The 9th CD is slightly more Democratic than the CA-13, but it is still cast as a relatively competitive general election seat.

With Rep. Harder abandoning his re-election plans in CA-13, state Assemblyman Adam Gray (D-Merced) quickly announced that he will run for Congress in the suddenly open district that stretches north to south from Modesto to Fresno through Merced and Madera Counties.

California’s Central Valley is in a state of political flux. With the special election for resigned Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) underway in the neighboring current 22nd District and the candidates having no place to run in the regular election, the 13th District could now become an attractive landing spot for one or more of the GOP special election contenders.

A Republican will be an underdog in the new 13th, but at least the candidate would have a fighting chance to win a full term and the opportunity of seeking re-election if successful.

Former Rep. Nunes’ CA-22, a Republican seat that occupies parts of Fresno and Tulare Counties, was torn to pieces as part of the California Citizens Redistricting Commission plan, as was Rep. Harder’s CD in the agricultural region’s northern section. As a result, a Republican district, numbered 5, was created northeast of Fresno to the outskirts of Sacramento that Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) will claim. This is where Rep. Nunes would have run for re-election had he stayed in Congress.

Two swing Democratic districts, the aforementioned 9th and 13th, and two stronger Democratic seats — the 21st that contains downtown Fresno where Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) will seek re-election, and the new 22nd District to the west from where Republican Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) is endangered in the general election — were also created.

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