March 22, 2016 — The California candidate filing deadline occurred at the end of last week, and several races in both the June primary and general election look interesting.
To review, California uses the top-two, jungle primary system, where all candidates appear together on the June 7 ballot, and then the first two finishers advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. It is likely that this system contributes to the large number of congressional candidates coming forth this year.
In the Senate race, while Democrats hope to qualify two of their own for the general election, namely Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-CA-46), voters will have to find the pair through a mass of 32 other candidates in order for them to secure advancement. Six Democrats, 17 Republicans, and 11 Independents will be in the June Senate race. Attorney General Harris is favored to win the seat in November.
In the congressional races, only two of the 49 incumbents seeking re-election failed to draw an opponent. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA-14) and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA-40) are the only unopposed members for both the primary and general elections.
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.
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.
The two outstanding California House races are now finished. Both Democratic incumbents Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16) have officially pulled out close victories.
Despite the Republicans chalking up their largest majority since the 1928 election, the Bera and Costa wins mean the Democrats actually gain one seat in the lopsided California delegation. This result was made possible because of five other very close wins in San Diego (Rep. Scott Peters over GOP challenger Carl DeMaio), Ventura County (freshman Rep. Julia Brownley barely surviving against Assemblyman Jeff Gorell), and San Bernardino (the open Republican seat where Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) scored a tight 51-49 percent win over GOP candidate Paul Chabot).
With counting of absentee ballots just about complete, some 15 days after the election itself, Rep. Bera has now increased the lead he just took to 1,432 votes, a number that the national and local news media deems insurmountable for former Rep. Doug Ose (R) to overcome based upon the number of ballots still remaining to be counted.
In Fresno, the race is even closer with only a few more ballots left to count in Democratic strongholds. Rep. Costa, like Bera in Sacramento, trailing for most of the post-election period has now assumed an Continue reading >
Now that the 2014 election is finally ending, speculation begins to build around the next in-cycle group of seats.
With Gov. Sean Parnell (R) conceding defeat to Independent Bill Walker in Alaska and the two outstanding California congressional races likely soon ending in razor-thin wins for representatives Ami Bera (D-CA-7) and Jim Costa (D-CA-16), the 2014 cycle will conclude on Dec. 6 when the Louisiana run-offs are decided. Then, we can look forward to almost non-stop coverage of the impending presidential race in addition to frequent US Senate analyses.
Since Republicans will have a majority of either 53 or 54 seats depending upon whether Sen. Mary Landrieu (D) or Rep. Bill Cassidy (R-LA-6) wins the Louisiana campaign, the GOP will likely be forced to defend 24 of 34 states up for election in two years. Therefore, Democrats will have ample opportunity to reclaim their lost advantage, which is the storyline we can expect to hear from the major media outlets.
With this backdrop, some senators are already drawing speculation about potential opponents. Illinois is likely at the top of the Democrats’ target list since the state votes heavily with their party, particularly in presidential years. Sen. Mark Kirk (R) started the ball rolling early this week by stating unequivocally that he intends to seek Continue reading >
As has been the case during this entire week, covering the 13 various campaigns went to political overtime – that is post-election ballot counting, or voting, that could alter the final outcome – has been the dominant political subject.
So far, Democrats have been the beneficiaries of the late counting, winning four of the races and appear headed for three more wins. Republicans claimed one state, and are well positioned for a second win. The GOP then looks to sweep the three Louisiana campaigns that are in post-election run-offs scheduled for Dec. 6.
With most political overtime races trending toward the Democrats, Tuesday’s fortunes looked more favorably upon Republicans.
AZ-2: In Arizona’s 2nd District, it appears that challenger Martha McSally (R), who lost a bitterly close campaign two years ago, will win an even tighter battle this year.
The final count nears and McSally is clinging to a bare 133-vote lead, but it may be enough to unseat Rep. Ron Barber (D). All of the ballots are now tabulated with the exception of about 200 in Pima County. Since this entity is divided among three congressional districts (59 percent of the county is in District 2), it is likely that only between 110-120 of those votes are from the undecided CD. Even if Barber were to attract 60 percent of this number, he would still fall between 100 and 110 votes short of victory.
While it now appears evident that McSally will lead after all of the votes are tabulated and recorded, the closeness of the finish means that an automatic recount will be conducted. Rarely do recounts change the candidates’ finish order, but only a 100-vote spread of more than 215,000 cast ballots does suggest that eligibility challenges to individual voters could exceed that margin. Still, with Republicans in a strong House majority, the body itself must seat all of its members, and McSally’s chances of becoming the ultimate victor here are now Continue reading >