Tag Archives: California

Convicted Rep. Fortenberry to Resign

By Jim Ellis

Convicted Nebraska US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln)

March 29, 2022 — A Los Angeles, Calif. jury convicted Nebraska US Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Lincoln) of three felony counts late last week, two involving campaign finance. The jury ruled he concealed illegal campaign funds received from a foreign national, and lied to federal investigators.

The congressman announced over the weekend that he will resign from the House on March 31, answering the call of both parties’ leadership to do so.

Rep. Fortenberry further says he will appeal the verdict and wrote in his official open resignation letter that “due to the difficulties of my current circumstances, I can no longer serve you (meaning his constituents) effectively.”

Since Nebraska’s candidate filing has closed and contenders certified, it is unclear at this time whether the congressman’s name can be removed from the primary ballot. The only ballot-related deadline that has not passed in relation to the May 10 primary is the period before April 4 when county clerks can make “corrections” to the ballot.

State Sen. Mike Flood (R-Norfolk) is the leading GOP candidate in Fortenberry’s absence. Retired Air Force officer John Glen Weaver, teacher Thireena Yuki, and welder Curtis Huffman round out the Republican congressional field. The consensus Democratic candidate is state Sen. Patty Pansing Brooks (D-Lincoln).

Now that Rep. Fortenberry is resigning, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R) will call a special election to fill the balance of the term. Under Nebraska law, since the seat will open before Aug. 1 of the even-numbered year, the special election must be scheduled within 90 days of the official date of vacancy. In this case, the vote must be held on or before June 28.

There will be no primary special election under Nebraska procedure. Nominations will come from the qualified political parties, handled through the 1st Congressional District committees of the various entities. A single-party candidate must be chosen and ballot qualified no later than 65 days before the scheduled election. Qualification refers to meeting the constitutional candidate requirements, filing the proper signature petitions, and paying relevant fees.

It is presumed the Republican and Democratic committees will turn to their leading candidates in state Sens. Flood and Brooks for the two major party nominations, but they don’t necessarily have to pursue such a direction because the special election’s candidate deadline will occur before the regular primary election. It would make little sense, however, for the parties to nominate someone other than their leading contenders, because the new individual(s) would not be able to run in the general election since the regular candidate filing period has closed.

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Notable Candidate Filings

By Jim Ellis

California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) faces little in the way of strong competition in 2022.

March 15, 2022 — Candidate filing closed in three states on Friday — California, Georgia, and Idaho — and we see some highly competitive primary and general election campaigns occurring in each.

Despite 26 candidates filing against him, appointed California Sen. Alex Padilla (D) has done a good job of securing his Democratic base. As a result, he faces no serious opponent. The only way Sen. Padilla would lose in the state’s jungle primary system is if another strong Democrat surfaced and forced him into a double-Democratic general election. No such individual filed. California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) also faces little in the way of strong competition even though he has 25 opponents.

The Georgia governor’s race features the most important May 24 primary campaign, a Republican battle between Gov. Brian Kemp and former US Sen. David Perdue. Three minor candidates are also on the ballot, and they could be a factor to force a runoff if the Kemp-Perdue race evolves into an even contest. In that scenario, a secondary election on July 26 would occur should both Kemp and Perdue be stopped short of 50 percent support.

Former Georgia state House Minority Leader and 2018 gubernatorial nominee Stacey Abrams is unopposed for the Democratic nomination. The state’s US Senate contest is already winnowing down to a battle between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D) and retired pro football player Herschel Walker (R).

In Idaho, Gov. Brad Little faces a Republican primary challenge from Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who has former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Sen. Mike Crapo has four Republican primary opponents but is in strong shape for both re-nomination and re-election to a fifth term.

In the House races, veteran Rep. Mike Simpson (R-Idaho Falls) will face a familiar foe in the Republican primary. Bryan Smith, who challenged the congressman in the 2014 Republican primary and attracted some national attention and support before falling 62-38 percent, returns for a re-match eight years after their original political battle.

Back in California in the US House races, it appears there are seven districts that will host competitive general election campaigns and many more that could send a pair of the same party’s members to the November election from the June 7 jungle primary.

Only one of the projected partisan general election battles comes in an open seat. The 3rd District, which begins in the Sacramento suburbs and stretches down along the Nevada border all the way into southern California, will yield a competitive Republican battle between state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Granite Bay) and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones for one of the general election finalist positions. The state Democratic Party has endorsed physician Kermit Jones. The new 3rd, where Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove) could have run, is rated an R+8 district.

Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) will likely face San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti (R) in the D+8 District 9 that retiring Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-Stockton) currently holds.

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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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Rep. Lawrence to Retire;
Open US House Seats Now Up to 44

By Jim Ellis

Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield)

Jan. 7, 2022 — Four-term Michigan US Rep. Brenda Lawrence (D-Southfield) became the latest Democratic incumbent to announce her retirement. She is the 25th Dem to not seek re-election as compared to 11 Republicans.

Saying, “this is the right time to turn the page and spend more time with my family — my husband, daughter, son and granddaughter — and put them first,” Lawrence made official her decision not to seek a fifth term next year. She is 67 years old. Prior to her election to Congress, Lawrence served as Southfield’s mayor for 14 years. She is the only African American in the Michigan delegation and the lone Wolverine State Democrat to serve on the House Appropriations Committee.

It is speculated upon that the new Michigan map influenced her retirement decision, but Rep. Lawrence said she was confident of being able to be re-elected in the new 12th District. Though her home base of Southfield was included in MI-12, the cities of Dearborn, Westland, and the western part of Wayne County would have, for her, been foreign political turf.

In her closing comments to the Detroit Free Press newspaper, Rep. Lawrence said, “I’m incredibly grateful for the people of Michigan’s 14th Congressional District who have placed their trust in me — in me, a little Black girl from the east side of Detroit.”

The Lawrence decision greatly changes the Detroit area congressional campaigns. Immediately upon Rep. Lawrence announcing her retirement plans, neighboring Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Detroit) declared that she will seek re-election in the 12th District, saying that she currently represents more of this CD than the downtown Detroit-anchored MI-13. This leaves the 13th open and will create a major Democratic primary battle. CD-13 is a majority African American district and heavily Democratic, meaning that winning the party primary is tantamount to election in November.

A group of current and former Detroit state legislators announced Wednesday that they are filing a lawsuit against the Michigan Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission, saying the new congressional, state Senate, and state House of Representatives’ boundaries discriminate against black voters, and therefore violate the Voting Rights Act. If the lawsuit successfully overturns the Detroit district draws, new mapping instructions could be forced upon the commission before the 2022 election.

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Redistricting:
California & New Jersey Maps

Click on map of California above for detailed view

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 3, 2022 — The California and New Jersey redistricting commissions are completing the last steps of passing what look to be the final congressional plans for each state. The cursory analysis suggests that Democrats may gain a seat in California with Republicans doing likewise in the Garden State.


California

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission members approved and sent toward final adoption a new 52-district congressional map that could give the Democrats even more seats in the delegation, though we will see several more competitive districts come into play. California lost one seat in reapportionment and Democrats are taking the loss of one of their Los Angeles County seats, but look to be replacing it, and then some, in other parts of the Golden State.

The 47th and 40th Districts of retiring members Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-Downey) were combined to construct a new 42nd CD, which is heavily Democratic. Rep. Karen Bass (D-Los Angeles), who is leaving the House to enter the campaign for mayor of Los Angeles, sees her 37th District, which was on the chopping block in the first draft map, restored almost intact.

Major change is occurring in the Central Valley. Rep. Josh Harder (D-Turlock) sees his 10th District going from an R1 rating according to the FiveThirtyEight statistical analysis organization to R17. Therefore, it is unlikely he will run in his new designated 5th District.

Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) may leave what is a new 13th District at D7 and move to the downtown Fresno seat, now labeled District 21. This seat has much of resigning Rep. Devin Nunes’ (R-Tulare) territory but is rated a D16. Rep. Costa choosing the 21st might allow Rep. Harder to drop down into new District 13, which would be a much more favorable partisan situation but takes him away from his geographical base.

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita), who won his 2020 election by just a 333-vote margin, sees his designated district, now numbered 27, become at least three points more Democratic. This endangers even further his re-election chances. The 538 organization rated his current 25th CD as a D5. The new 27th becomes a D8.

Several Republicans have proven they can win these D-plus single digit type seats, however. In addition to Rep. Garcia’s two victories in current CD-25, Rep. David Valadao’s (R-Hanford/Bakersfield) 21st district is rated a D9. His new seat, designated District 22, goes to a D10. Another option for him would be to also run in District 13 (D7), which contains some of his current territory. Rep. Young Kim (R-La Habra) won a 39th District that FiveThirtyEight rated as a D6. Her new 45th CD is calculated at D5.

We could possibly see a district swap operation between Reps. Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose) and Jimmy Panetta (D-Carmel Valley) due to geography, and between Reps. Michelle Steel (R-Orange County) and Katie Porter (D-Irvine) for partisan reasons.

Rep. Steel’s district moves from a R2 to a D6, while Rep. Porter’s adjacent CD shifts in the opposite direction, going from a D6 all the way to a R4. The problem can be solved for both members by them simply switching districts. This would mean Rep. Porter would run in the new coastal 47th with Rep. Steel going to the inland new 40th.

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove) gets a solid Democratic district, but its new positioning is unfavorable to him from a geographic perspective. Garamendi’s new 8th District moves closer to the San Francisco Bay Area making him vulnerable to a challenge from a Bay Area Democratic state or local official. It is likely this new Vallejo-anchored CD would produce a double Democratic general election under the state’s top two jungle primary system.

Several members see their districts downgraded from a partisan perspective. Rep. Tom McClintock (R-Elk Grove/Sacramento) goes from R15 to R8 in a new 3rd District that stretches into southern California along the Nevada border.

Rep. Jerry McNerney’s (D-Stockton) 9th CD goes from D14 to D8, again according to the 538 analysis. Rep. Ken Calvert’s (R-Corona) designated CD, numbered 41, drops from his current R13 to R7. Rep. Mike Levin’s (D-San Juan Capistrano) 49th CD recedes two points from D7 to D5.


New Jersey

Click on map of New Jersey above to see detailed view

It appears that the New Jersey Redistricting Commission comprised of six Democratic elected officials, six similar Republicans, and a state Supreme Court selected tie-breaking member, have also agreed upon a new congressional map. New Jersey’s representation level remained constant with 12 seats, so it was a matter of adjusting the current districts.

It is evident that the rumor suggesting the commission would adopt a map that drastically weakened Rep. Tom Malinowski’s (D-Rocky Hill) seat in order to strengthen three other Democratic districts, those of Reps. Andy Kim (D-Bordentown), Josh Gottheimer (D-Wyckoff), and Mikie Sherrill (D-Montclair/Morristown) proved true.

It further appears that Rep. Albio Sires’ (D-West New York) retirement did not change the commissioners’ outlook as to which district to weaken. Sires’ 8th District returns virtually intact, another indication that Sen. Bob Menendez’s son, Robert J. Menendez (D), will likely be the retiring congressman’s successor. The latter Menendez currently serves on the NY/NJ Port Commission.

While the NJ Democrats are securing three of their more politically marginal districts, Districts 3, 5, and 11, Republicans appeared poised, probably in the person of state Senate Minority Leader Tom Kean Jr. (R-Edison) who held Malinowski to a 51-49 percent win in 2020, to convert the new 7th CD.

More research will be done on the likely-to-be-adopted California and New Jersey congressional maps when detailed district descriptions become available. It looks like several incumbent members will have decisions before them about where to run in California, while the focus of the New Jersey competitive action will center around the District 7 Malinowski-Kean re-match.