Panetta In; Hanna Challenged

Nov. 20, 2015 — The first person to declare his candidacy in the open Monterey, Calif., congressional district has come forward.

On Friday, veteran California Congressman Sam Farr (D-CA-20) announced he would not seek a 13th term next year, retiring from the House at what will be age 75 when the current term ends.

Prior to Farr winning this California coastal seat in 1993, then-Rep. Leon Panetta represented the region since his original election 16-plus years earlier. Panetta would later serve as President Bill Clinton’s Director of the Office of Management & Budget, and then as White House Chief of Staff. Out of public life for almost 12 years, President Obama brought him back to Washington as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, and then as Secretary of Defense.

Now, Panetta’s second son, Jimmy Panetta a 43-year-old Monterey County Deputy District Attorney, announced his congressional candidacy yesterday, and will have to be rated a favorite to advance to the general election. The seat’s Democratic nature suggests that two party members could well advance to November.

Another expected candidate is state Senate Majority Leader Bill Monning (D). If he runs, this will be Monning’s second bid for the congressional seat. He was one of the candidates who lost the 1993 special election to Farr. Elected to the state Assembly in 2008, he then won his Senate seat in 2012. He is eligible to run for one more Senate term so should he seek the congressional seat, he will be risking his leadership position and state legislative career.

Carmel Mayor Jason Burnett is another potential Democratic candidate, as are assemblymen Luis Alejo and Mark Stone. The former individual, Alejo, is ineligible to seek a fourth term in the state Assembly, but Stone can run once more. Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker and Santa Cruz City Councilor Pamela Comstock are two more potential Democratic candidates.

Pacific Grove Councilor Casey Lucius is an announced Republican candidate. If the Democrats attract a crowded field, then Lucius may have a chance of advancing to the general election, but her prospects of winning the seat are poor, if not non-existent, particularly in a presidential year.

We can expect a year-long campaign in order to replace Rep. Farr, but the Democrats will maintain the district.


Controversial Rep. Richard Hanna (R-Barneveld/Utica), who told women to give their (campaign) money to Democrats in the last election because “so many of your rights are under assault”, and expressed public agreement with Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s (R-CA-23) earlier comments that the Benghazi hearings were for political purposes, has unsurprisingly drawn Republican primary opposition.

Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney (R), who originally said she would not seek a re-match with Rep. Hanna – she drew 46.5 percent against him in the 2014 GOP congressional primary – has done an about-face and now will run. She is virtually assured of obtaining the Conservative Party ballot line, even if she fails to deny Hanna the Republican nomination. This would mean she could advance to the general election even if she loses he primary.

But, New York has a unique electoral system. Since adopting the federal MOVE Act, which guarantees 45 days election notice to military and other US citizens living abroad, the formerly prevalent late September primaries have vanished. But, the MOVE Act only applies to federal elections. Hence, New York now holds two primaries, one in June for the federal offices, while maintaining their traditional September primary for state races. Thus, defeated candidates like Tenney in 2014 could run for Congress and then turnaround and seek re-election to their state position. Should she lose the congressional primary again, Tenney could revert back into the state Assembly. This makes continuing on as a Conservative congressional candidate a more difficult decision.

In 2014, Tenney was only able to raise and spend $190,000. Now a proven vote-getter against Hanna, that figure is expected to grow and it would not be surprising to see outside conservative groups to come to her aid in the form of implementing independent expenditures.

Though Rep. Hanna did not draw Democratic opposition in the last election, it is probable that the party will file a candidate this time, attempting to take advantage of the split among conservative and moderate Republicans. This sets the stage for an interesting primary and general election.

The 22nd District congressional race will be one to watch.

Louisiana Governor

The Louisiana gubernatorial general election occurs tomorrow, and most indications point to Democrat John Bel Edwards upsetting Sen. David Vitter (R).

Ten polls have been released in the run-off election, and all of them find Edwards leading Vitter from margins between six and 22 percentage points. The most recent survey, from Market Research Insight (Nov. 16-18; 900 likely Louisiana voters) findsEdwards leading Sen. Vitter, 52-40 percent.

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