Senate No-Go’s in Florida;
A California Democrat Fights Back

Aug. 3, 2015 — Three House members who had been very public about considering US Senate bids in their respective states, yesterday announced their decisions not to pursue a statewide campaign.

In what is becoming the most unpredictable of all Senate races, another surprise occurred in Florida.  Rep. Jeff Miller (R-Pensacola), who had been hiring staff, beginning to raise money, and even assembling an initial campaign schedule suddenly reversed course and will not join the growing field of Republican candidates.

Gainesville Rep. Ted Yoho (R), potentially a victim of the mid-decade, court-ordered congressional redistricting process, also reached the same conclusion about his own prospective Senate campaign.  So did California Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Los Angeles).

Rep. Miller seemed primed to launch a Senate campaign, though he had no evident path to victory.  Coming from the far northwestern section of the Florida panhandle, Miller has little in the way of name ID throughout the state’s major population centers.  In early polling, he was placing behind two younger House members with less seniority, but his deficit margin was small.

Rep. Yoho only earlier in the week raised the prospect of his entering the Senate race.  Mr. Yoho’s 3rd District, lying between Rep. Corinne Brown’s (D-Jacksonville) seat and that of Rep. Gwen Graham (D-Tallahassee), could be radically reconfigured.  The state Supreme Court declaring Brown’s 5th CD as illegal will likely mean many more Democrats, particularly in the Gainesville area, will be placed in Yoho’s FL-3 and potentially endangering his re-election.  Yesterday, however, he too reversed field and said he would not join the statewide campaign.

When Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced that she would not seek a fifth term, Rep. Becerra’s name was prominently mentioned as a potential statewide candidate.   Though he kept saying he would decide at a later date, he made no discernible move to construct a campaign.  All the while, Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) was committing money and support.  Therefore, it came as no surprise when the congressman announced he would not pursue a 2016 Senate race.  He will seek another term from his 34th US House District next year.

CA-24

Though Democratic Party leaders in California and Washington clearly prefer Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal as the candidate to succeed retiring Rep. Lois Capps’ (D-Santa Barbara), Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider (D) struck back against her opponent’s institutional support.

Yesterday, the mayor released her internal Lake Research poll (July 26-28; 350 likely CA-24 2016 primary voters) for next June’s jungle primary that places all candidates, irrespective of political party affiliation, on the same ballot.  The top two finishers, regardless of percentages, then advance to the November general election.  Therefore, it is possible to find two Democrats or two Republicans battling each other in the fall campaign in lieu of the normal D and R pairing.

According to the Lake Research data, it is neither Schneider nor Carbajal who claims first position, but rather San Luis Obispo County Republican Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian.  He attracts 24 percent of the preference vote, followed by Mayor Schneider at 16 percent.  Supervisor Carbajal places only third with 11 percent, just ahead of GOP businessman Justin Fareed who posts 10 percent.  Schneider then publicly made the argument that she is the better positioned Democrat.

The 24th District will be competitive.  Encompassing Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, with a sliver of Ventura County, the CD leans Democratic but could switch in favorable Republican years.

Additionally, redistricting greatly changed this region.  The 2011 California Citizens Redistricting Commission members transformed Rep. Capps’ seat from a safe meandering gerrymandered Democratic coastal district into a competitive CD with the inclusion of the more Republican-leaning San Luis Obispo County and the rural portion of Santa Barbara County.  Capps two victory percentages under the present lines were just 55 percent (2012) and 52 percent (2014) against lesser Republican opposition.

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