Tag Archives: California

Election Tomorrow in California’s 36th CD

California's 36th CD (govtrack.us)

On Feb. 8, Rep. Jane Harman (D) announced that she would resign her seat in the House of Representatives in order to become the president of a foreign affairs think tank. Tomorrow, her congressional replacement will finally be chosen. In what was predicted to be a walk in the park for Democrats because of the district’s historical voting pattern, the race has instead become close. Although Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) should win, Republican businessman Craig Huey appears to be positioned to score an upset victory. Even if he loses, Mr. Huey may still be in play for the November 2012 election, however, as the proposed redistricting changes will make the seat more competitive.

When California changed their primary law to allow the top two vote-getters, regardless of party, to qualify for the general election, the 36th district, a seat that gave President Obama 64 percent of its votes in 2008 and saw only one major Republican candidate get even 40 percent (President George W. Bush in 2004), was predicted to send two Democrats into the second election. Secretary of State Debra Bowen (D), who represented most of this South Bay coastal region in the state Assembly and Senate before winning statewide, and Councilwoman Hahn were the favorites to advance to the special general election. When the primary votes were counted in late May, however, Craig Huey had slipped past Bowen and found himself winning the right to challenge Hahn.

For her part, Ms. Hahn — whose father, the late Kenneth Hahn, was the long-time Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors chairman, and whose brother Jim was a one-term mayor of Los Angeles — is not a particularly strong candidate. She has twice lost bids for higher office, the 36th CD back in 1998 after Ms. Harman had vacated for an unsuccessful run for governor, and a 2010 Democratic primary race for lieutenant governor. Now, embroiled in controversy over her support for a highly suspect program that pays gang members and ex-convicts to act as gang interventionists, Hahn has become locked in a battle with an unknown Republican opponent in a campaign that she should win easily.

The current 36th district is highly Democratic. The new district, should the draft redistricting map be enacted into law, will encompass Palos Verdes Republican voters who previously were melded into another district. The new seat would still lean Democratic but will be much more competitive.

There have been no recently released polls for this campaign. Hahn has been conducting internal surveys but refuses to publicize the results, another indication that the race is trending much closer than one would expect. On the money front, Hahn has raised $1.1 million, while Huey banked $840,000 according to late June public disclosure financial reports. All of Hahn’s funding is from sources other than herself, including almost $300,000 from PACs and party donations, while almost $700,000 of Huey’s grand total is self-contributed.

Regardless of the outcome tomorrow, the real race in this southwestern LA County region will occur next year in the regular election. For the first time in more than two decades, several California congressional seats will enter the competitive ranks, and this particular district is likely to be among them.
___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com

Tuesday’s California Special Election is Just a Beginning

The special election to replace Rep. Jane Harman (D), who resigned her seat earlier this year to accept a position with a foreign affairs think tank, will be held this coming Tuesday. Early voting is currently underway and the preliminary numbers surprisingly show Republican ballots almost equaling Democratic absentees according to the first tabulation. It is, of course, unknown for whom each person actually voted, but does provide an indication about the total turnout trend. With a 45-28 percent advantage in voter registration over Republicans, Democrats should easily win this seat. The candidates are Los Angeles City Councilwoman Janice Hahn (D) and businessman Craig Huey (R).

Mr. Huey is even a surprise to have advanced into the run-off. In California’s new top-two primary system, political party is irrelevant in terms of qualifying for the general election. In a district such as this, it was originally believed that two Democrats would be squaring off on Tuesday but Huey pulled the upset.

Hahn’s campaign strategy suggests the race is close. She is running attack ads while emphasizing that she serves on the “non-partisan” LA City Council. This is a surprising approach for a candidate running in a district that so favors her own party.

Even if Huey loses but comes close on Tuesday, this race should be a key target in the regular election, assuming the proposed redistricting map is enacted. Under the re-draw, what will be the new 36th district becomes much more Republican than under the current boundaries, suggesting a high degree of competition for next year. So, as in the upcoming NV-2 special election slated for Sept. 13, whoever wins this CA-36 vote on Tuesday will effectively mark the beginning of their campaign season and not the end. We will have much more on this race in our Monday update.
___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com

Hahn Attacking in California

The next special congressional election is two weeks away in California and Democratic nominee Janice Hahn appears nervous. The general election phase of this contest should be an easy run for any Dem, and was viewed as such ever since Republican Craig Huey slipped through the jungle primary election instead of the favored Debra Bowen (D), California’s Secretary of State. CA-36 is solidly Democratic. The worst number posted by the party’s presidential candidate since 1996 is 57 percent, and the region routinely elects liberals to virtually every political position. But Hahn isn’t acting like a runaway winner. She just aired a new ad attacking Huey as an “extremist politician” followed up with a more positive commercial about her own career. The latter ad surprisingly does not mention she’s a Democrat, instead choosing to emphasize that she has “never held partisan office.”

Several weeks ago Ms. Hahn, a Los Angeles City councilwoman who has previously lost a race for Congress (1998) and another for lieutenant governor (2010), surveyed the district but refuse to publicize the results even while tepidly claiming that she led Huey “beyond the margin of error.” These actions suggest that the CA-36 special election is much closer than anyone would have originally believed. Hahn will still likely win this race, but it’s probable she will under-perform the Democratic average.

Even if the councilwoman does prevail on July 12, the road to re-election may be quite difficult. The new Palos Verdes East seat, as the 36th has been named in the new redistricting plan, covers many of the same communities – Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Torrance – but the new seat possesses a much more Republican complexion. While Barack Obama carried the new Palos Verdes East seat with 53.6 percent of the vote, under the old 36th district boundaries, the president’s number topped 64 percent. In the very close race for attorney general in 2010, an election the Democratic nominee carried by less than one percentage point statewide, the Republican nominee actually scored a 45-41 percent plurality within the Palos Verdes East boundaries.

While Ms. Hahn now surprisingly finds herself in a competitive race, it is likely she will face a difficult re-election challenge even if July 12 brings her success. The Palos Verdes East seat looks like another of the more competitive districts that the new California Citizens Redistricting Commission constructed.
___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com

California Congresswoman Woolsey Retires

Today, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA-6) formally announced that she will not seek an 11th term in Congress next year. Woolsey, a former Petaluma, Calif. city councilwoman before coming to Washington, first entered the House in 1992 replacing then-Rep. Barbara Boxer (D) who won election to the Senate that same year.

Ms. Woolsey becomes the 14th House member who is choosing to step aside in 2012, but only the second to retire. The other dozen are running for higher office. Oklahoma Rep. Dan Boren (D-OK-2) is the only other member who, so far, is voluntarily opting to leave politics.

Congresswoman Woolsey is one of the most liberal members of the House. She is the chair of the Progressive Caucus in the House and has consistently aligned herself on the far left spectrum of the Democratic Party. She came to fame for being the first former welfare recipient to win election to Congress. Since then, another member, Rep. Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), also claims the same distinction.

The new California redistricting map radically alters Woolsey’s 6th district. Previously anchored in the Bay Area’s Marin County, CA-6 covered only the aforementioned locality and part of Sonoma. Under the California Citizens Redistricting Commission’s 2011 congressional redistricting plan, the Woolsey district will now stretch all the way from Marin to the Oregon border, taking in a large portion of Rep. Mike Thompson’s (D-CA-1) current territory. The new North Coast district is heavily Democratic but has a considerably different constituency for Woolsey. The congresswoman would likely have held the seat, but she could have been vulnerable in a Democratic primary to a state or local official more familiar with the new district. It does not appear, however, that the re-map is the driving reason why the 73-year-old veteran representative will be walking away from her position.

Considering the major redistricting shake-up that is proving challenging for more than a third of California incumbents from both parties, Woolsey’s retirement is likely the first of several more. Seeing his district split six different ways, House Rules Committee chairman David Dreier (R-CA-26) is a retirement possibility. So are Reps. Pete Stark (D-CA-13), Lois Capps (D-CA-23), Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-34). While none of the aforementioned has specifically said they will leave Congress, their new districts will either be substantially different from their current seats, or politically unfavorable to them in a primary or general election. After years of representing safe districts, being thrown into a seriously competitive situation late in their careers may send some or all of these members packing.

Since the Woolsey retirement had been rumored for some time, two Democrats had already begun assembling a congressional campaign, and others will likely follow. State Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D) said he would not run against the congresswoman, but was beginning to raise money for a federal race in case she decided not to seek re-election. Through March 31, Huffman had raised $123,000 for his potential federal campaign.

In addition to Assemblyman Huffman, author and leftwing activist Norman Solomon had also announced his candidacy, once again presuming the Woolsey retirement. He did not file a financial disclosure report in the first quarter.

Now that Ms. Woolsey has made her plans official, expect other state legislators, Marin and Sonoma County local officials, and individuals from the newly added smaller north coastal counties, to seriously consider making congressional bids. Regardless of who eventually wins the Democratic primary in the newly configured district, that person will succeed Ms. Woolsey as the region’s Representative. Should the proposed lines actually become the final district boundaries, rate the North Coast seat as “Safe Democratic.”
___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com

The California Citizens Redistricting Commission

The newly formed California Citizens Redistricting Commission (CCRC) has almost completed its work. The 14-member bi-partisan group released the new congressional map in compliance with their stated duties on June 10, and it appears they have accomplished most of their key objectives. Currently, the congressional plan is published and available for public comment. Changes may be made before July 7; final passage must come before August 15. The Commission appears to be on time to meet the published schedule.

The CCRC was created through a vote of the people via ballot initiative. The purpose of the body is to take legislative and congressional redistricting power away from the state legislature in order to make the process less political and ostensibly more responsive to the public. The commission was also tasked with drawing districts more in line with community interests, without regard to the political fortunes of the current incumbents.

It appears the commission, comprised of five Democrats, five Republicans, and four Independents (each map must receive four Democratic votes, four Republican, and three Independent tallies – the specific congressional map in question actually earned the support of all 14 members), accomplished their objectives, at least in terms of creating compact, community specific districts and generating more political competition.

Most of the incumbents are not happy with the map. Of the state’s 53 incumbent representatives, 27 are actually paired with a fellow incumbent – that is, their places of residence are in the same district as another congressman. In fact, one seat in the Central Valley near Fresno, now has three incumbents. The vast majority of these members have another district in which to run, but many do face serious political situations.

The following is a list of the California incumbents who face a potentially precarious road to re-election in 2012:

  • Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D) – With her new district now stretching from her Marin County base all the way to the Oregon border along the California coast, Ms. Woolsey is reportedly set to announce her retirement early next week.
  • Rep. Jerry McNerney (D) – Will have a choice of opposing Rep. Pete Stark (D) in a Bay Area seat, or running in the San Joaquin Valley seat, far from his political base, but a solidly Democratic seat. He could face significant primary opposition.
  • Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D) – One of the trio of members placed in the same district, Rep. Cardoza does have a neighboring seat in which to run, but it is a more marginal seat than his current 18th district. He becomes more vulnerable to a Republican challenger.
  • Rep. Jim Costa (D) – Fresh from a highly competitive 2010 election in which he survived in a close tally, Rep. Costa finds his new seat to be even more marginal. A strong Republican candidate has the potential to give Costa a serious run.
  • Rep. Lois Capps (D) – The new Santa Barbara-San Luis Obispo district becomes a 50/50 seat for Democrats and Republicans. Capps currently has a safe Democratic coastal seat. A strong Republican candidate will have a chance to win here.
  • Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) – Currently placed in the same seat with fellow GOP Rep. Buck McKeon, Mr. Gallegly will also have the opportunity to run in a marginal district labeled “East Ventura.” Gallegly is a retirement candidate.
  • Rep. David Dreier (R) – The House Rules Committee chairman may have the most difficult political situation of any California incumbent. His current 26th district is now spread among six new seats. All of his options are difficult. He could possibly survive in the new Ontario district, but will already face stiff opposition from state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D).
  • Rep. Brad Sherman (D) – Will likely face another incumbent either in the Democratic primary or the general election. His choices are challenging Rep. Howard Berman in the West San Fernando Valley seat or running against Gallegly in East Ventura. Even if Gallegly were to retire, the East Ventura seat is so marginal that it is difficult for both sides to win consistently, so Sherman would not be guaranteed victory even as the sole incumbent running.
  • Rep. Howard Berman (D) – Could face Rep. Sherman in the Democratic primary. The new West San Fernando Valley seat is 51 percent of Sherman’s current territory versus just 19 percent of Mr. Berman’s.
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra (D) / Rep. Lucille Roybal-Allard – This is a legitimate pairing, as neither member can easily move to a new district. Both will have to run for the “East Los Angeles” seat and it appears obvious that one of the two will not return to the next Congress.
  • CA-36 Special Election Winner – Should Democrat Janice Hahn win the July special election, as expected, she will find herself in more Republican district in which to seek re-election. The Democrats should hold the seat, but it will be more competitive.
  • Rep. Laura Richardson (D) – Paired with Rep. Linda Sanchez (D) in the Long Beach Port seat. Ms. Richardson, however, can slip over to the Hawthorne-Gardena district, but will face a serious Democratic primary challenge from state Assemblywoman Isadore Hall.
  • Rep. Linda Sanchez (D) – Paired with Rep. Richardson, but will likely only face state Sen. Alan Lowenthal (D) in a serious Democratic primary battle for the Long Beach Port seat.
  • Rep. Ed Royce (R) – Receives a less Republican district, but one he can win, at least early in the decade. Could move to the Orange County South district, but that would mean challenging fellow Rep. John Campbell (R) in a Republican primary.
  • Rep. Gary Miller (R) – Sees his safe Republican seat become a likely Democratic district. Rep. Miller has few good options. He could possibly move into the Ed Royce district should the veteran Congressman move south. But, even here Miller would be potentially vulnerable in both a Republican primary and the general election.
  • Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) – Currently paired with Rep. John Campbell (R). If Royce does move into the Orange County South district, Rep. Rohrabacher could find himself in a Republican primary battle with Campbell in the Orange County Coastal seat.
  • Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D) – This Orange County seat is another one that gets more competitive under the new map. Rep. Sanchez could find herself in a highly competitive general election campaign.
  • Rep. John Campbell (R) – Again, if Rep. Royce moves south, then Mr. Campbell will have a choice of facing him in a Republican primary campaign, or Rep. Rohrabacher in a similar situation but in a different district.

___________________________________________________
For further detailed insights, to sign up for my daily email updates, or to sign up to track specific issues or industries, please contact me at PRIsm@performanceandresults.com