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.