Feb. 15, 2016 — The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee released its early primary and secondary target lists for the 2016 campaign, which is a rather curious grouping. It is already clear that the House Democratic leadership sees no path to the majority in this election, at least during this campaign period.
With the Republican advantage at 247 (once former Speaker John Boehner’s western Ohio seat is filled in special election) to 188, the Democrats would need a net gain of 30 seats just to obtain a one-seat majority. The fact that their primary and secondary target list includes only 24 races suggests that they are nowhere close to putting enough seats in play to seriously challenge the Republican leadership structure.
On the primary list of 16 candidates, two seats are already under Democratic control, CA-24, the Santa Barbara seat of the retiring Rep. Lois Capps, and the FL-18 district of Rep. Patrick Murphy who is running for the Senate. Therefore, what they believe are prime opportunity races number just 14.
Jan. 8, 2016 — The California Field Poll was released early this week and the results show a surge for Texas Sen. Ted Cruz in the Republican presidential race, but their conclusions are largely irrelevant. California polling can’t accurately project the state’s all-important delegate count, hence the statewide ballot test total is less important here than in other places.
Despite Republicans performing poorly in California since the turn of the century, the Golden State still sends the largest delegation to the Republican National Convention (172). The California apportionment system yields a more open contest than most states because finishing first statewide is worth only 10 at-large delegates.
As in six other states (Connecticut, Indiana, Maryland, Missouri, South Carolina and Wisconsin), California apportions upon congressional district vote in addition to the aggregate statewide total. Since the Golden State possesses 53 CDs, California primary day actually yields 54 separate elections: one in each congressional district in addition to the statewide tally. The candidate placing first in each individual district, regardless of vote percentage or raw total, is awarded three delegates in winner-take-all fashion.
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.
Nov. 18, 2015 — Democratic Sacramento Congressman Ami Bera is no stranger to close elections, and it appears he’s headed toward another in 2016.
Three years ago, Dr. Bera defeated then-Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-3) in a 52-48 percent win, a spread of just under 9,200 votes. His first re-election was even closer, a 1,455-vote margin against former Rep. Doug Ose (R-CA-3) who was attempting a political comeback. In both instances, Bera trailed in the Election Day vote but his strength among the early and absentee ballots, which, in California usually accounts for about half of the vote, brought him the victories.
Now, his presumptive opponent will be Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones (R) who officially announced his challenge to Rep. Bera as the week began. Expect this to again be a highly competitive campaign in a congressional district that hosted the most expensive 2014 campaign in the United States. The two candidates combined to spend over $9 million, and there was an additional $13 million expended from outside organizations. This, in a media market that ranks as the 20th largest in the country.
The 7th District is fully contained within Sacramento County, encompassing the eastern and southern portions of the region. In effect, this district claims virtually the entire county except for the city of Sacramento and the small delta agricultural area. It combines the Sacramento suburban area along with rich agricultural lands and contains the cities of Folsom and Elk Grove.
Nov. 16, 2015 — Three retirement announcements, and how the process of filling the vacancies looks to play out:
Twelve-term Rep. Sam Farr (D-Carmel), who represents the exclusive Monterey Peninsula in coastal California, announced that he will not seek re-election next year. The 74-year-old veteran congressman was first elected in a 1993 special election, after serving 12-plus years in the California state assembly.
The district includes all of Monterey and San Benito Counties, and portions of Santa Clara and Santa Cruz Counties. The 20th is heavily Democratic, as President Obama’s twin 71 percent victories here reveal. Under California’s top-two political primary system, it is probable that two Democrats will advance from the June primary to the general election.
Rep. Farr came to Congress when President Clinton tabbed this region’s congressman, then-Rep. Leon Panetta (D), to serve as his Director of the Office of Management & Budget. During his tenure in the House, Panetta had been chairman of the House Budget Committee. Now, Panetta’s son, Jimmy Panetta, a Monterey County Deputy District Attorney, is a potential congressional candidate.