Tag Archives: Scott Peters

Race Updates; Freshmen Stats

The remaining two California House races are developing clear and similar trends as more ballots are counted and reported. Both Reps. Dan Lungren (R-CA-7) and Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52) are falling considerably behind their Democratic challengers.

In Lungren’s case, physician Ami Bera has now jumped ahead by 3,284 votes in the last publicly released count with approximately 50,000 ballots left to verify and count. Bera’s lead has grown consistently since Election Day, when he led by less than 1,000 votes. In San Diego, Port Commission chairman Scott Peters has increased his lead to 1,899 votes with about 60,000 remaining to count. This race, too, showed less than a 1,000 vote differential on Election Day. The most recent trend is likely to yield two more Democratic congressional victories. If the challengers do go onto win, the new California delegation split will be 38D-15R, a gain of four Democratic seats.

Five Golden State districts can expect to see major competition in 2014, when the lower mid-term turnout could pose more favorable results for Republicans. Newly elected members in the 7th (Bera) and 52nd (Peters) districts, should they ultimately end in a Democratic victory, can expect strong re-election competition, as will freshman in the marginal 26th District (Rep.-Elect Julia Brownley; Ventura County), and the 36th District where Dr. Raul Ruiz defeated Rep. Mary Bono Mack (R). These seats were designed to be competitive for most of the decade. Republican Gary Miller who won the new 31st District after two Republicans surprisingly qualified for the general election can expect a strong Democratic challenger next time.

The new freshmen are beginning to file into Washington for orientation, and more is being learned about them and the electoral patterns that we all just witnessed. In the House, a minimum of 80 new freshmen will be sworn into office in January, more once the five outstanding races are settled. A dozen new senators will also take their seats as the new year begins.

Unlike the past three election cycles, 2012 proved to be an incumbents’ year. Pres. Barack Obama was, of course, re-elected as were all but one US senator (Scott Brown of Massachusetts) who chose to seek another term. In the House, not counting those members who faced their colleagues in paired incumbent situations, 368 sought re-election and a minimum of 344 were victorious. Therefore, the total congressional incumbent retention factor is right around 94%, proving that the electorate is returning to its pro-incumbent predisposition.

Of the 12 new senators, six are current members of the House of Representatives, three are former statewide officials (two governors and an attorney general), two are from the legal and private sector, and one is a state legislator.

Turning to the 80 known House freshmen, nine are former US House members, 29 are current or former state legislators, 21 from the legal and private sector, 14 currently hold or formerly held local office, three are federal officials, two physicians, and a pair of career military officers.

As you can see, these numbers represent quite a change from the previous House where a full 40 members held no previous political office of any kind.

Do Dems Have a Shot at Gaining Calif. House Seats?

After the June 5 California primary, most observers were stunned to see two Republicans, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) and state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R), qualify for the general election in San Bernardino County’s 31st Congressional District. Considering that this new seat should normally vote Democratic in at least six of every 10 elections, the double Republican primary outcome had not been foreseen. His party’s San Berdo setback did not deter Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-NY-2) from continuing to declare that his team will gain at least four to five California House seats, however.

A look beyond the Obama-McCain 2008 numbers on the newly crafted California Citizens Redistricting Commission congressional map tells a different story. Right now, it appears the Democrats are safe in 28 California seats and Republicans’ 13, with 12 seats in competitive Democrat vs. Republican situations. If these numbers are correct, then the D’s would have to win 10 or 11 of the dozen most competitive districts to reach Israel’s projection of leaving California with 38 or 39 Democratic seats.

Though President Obama carried all 12 of the marginal seats in 2008, he did so under his statewide 61 percent winning percentage in every district. Looking beyond the surface of the presidential race, we find that the Republican attorney general nominee, Los Angeles District Attorney Steve Cooley, who ended up losing statewide by less than one percentage point, actually carried all 12 of these CDs. Additionally, and possibly even more telling, Sen. Barbara Boxer (D), a 52-42 percent winner statewide two years ago, lost nine of the 12 districts to Republican Carly Fiorina. Gov. Jerry Brown (D), a 54-41 percent victor over Republican Meg Whitman in 2010, won eight of the competitive dozen.

Therefore, with Republican performances such as these, what are Israel and other Democratic partisans looking at when they predict lofty Golden State gains, numbers they must attain to have any chance of competing for the House majority?

One argument is that the turnout model will certainly be different from the one that came to fruition in 2010 because, as the theory goes, President Obama will energize the electorate and increase Democratic turnout. That the voter participation rate will exceed the 2010 mid-term performance is almost certainly true, but with a virtually uncontested presidential race in California and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) facing little credible re-election opposition, will the turnout drive be as strong as the national Democrats believe? Conversely, with a public employee pension reform measure on the statewide ballot and considering the cities of San Jose and San Diego already passed similar propositions in June, could this issue actually provide more juice for Republicans and right of center Independents as opposed to Democrats? The answer is, quite possibly.

Turning to some of the individual races, in order to achieve their statewide goal Democrats would have to beat at least three of the four following incumbents: Dan Lungren (R-CA-7), Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-36), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52).

But only in San Diego, despite Republicans outnumbering Democrats 36-33 percent in the new 52nd District, is there a legitimate crack at a vulnerable Republican incumbent. Rep. Bilbray received only 41 percent in the jungle primary but new Democratic opponent Scott Peters, who placed second with only about 23 percent, has vulnerability from his previous controversial service on the San Diego City Council. So, even here, which seems to be the Democrats’ best chance to unseat an incumbent, their conversion bid is far from secure.

Republicans also look to have the upper hand in Districts 21 with Assemblyman David Valadao reaching almost 60 percent in the open seat Central Valley primary, the marginal 26th where they have the stronger candidate, Ventura County state Sen. Tony Strickland, and even in Democratic leaning District 41 (Riverside County), where the combined Republican primary vote formed a majority. Additionally, the Democrats feature a general election candidate there who has already lost three previous congressional campaigns, while the Republicans are promoting a powerful county Supervisor.

Right now, the Democratic victory total is nowhere close to winning 10 or 11 of these 12 seats, as the realistic sum appears closer to five. Instead of gaining four or five California districts, it’s more feasible that the parties will remain constant in their 34D-19R delegation ratio, or quite possibly lose a seat. Such a result virtually guarantees the continuance of the House Republican majority.

More California Primary Updates

With almost 1 million mailed and provisional ballots still being counted after the California primary last Tuesday, a bit more is becoming known about the general election congressional pairings.

In the 2nd District, Republican Dan Roberts has opened up a larger lead for the second general election position. He now has a 1,532 vote advantage over liberal author Norman Solomon (D). Roberts finishing second would be good news for Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D), the first-place qualifier, because the new CA-2 is heavily Democratic and will vote that way in November.

In the 8th District, anchored in San Bernardino County and which then travels up the Nevada border, it now appears certain that a double Republican general election will occur. The smattering of new vote returns places Democrat Jackie Conaway in fourth position and propelled businessman Gregg Imus ahead of Assemblyman Paul Cook for first place. Republican businessman Phil Liberatore is now third. Few uncounted votes remain, so it does appear that Imus and Cook will be the two who advance through to November.

With only 5,100+ votes to tally county-wide in San Bernardino, the CA-31 double Republican general election featuring Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42) and state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton appears to be clinched. Miller placed first with 27 percent of the vote, followed closely by Dutton’s 25 percent. Despite Democrats having a 41-35 percent advantage in voter registration, this seat is now guaranteed to send a Republican to Washington for the next Congress.

In San Diego, the picture as to which Democrat will face Rep. Brian Bilbray (R-CA-50) is becoming somewhat clearer. San Diego Port Commission chair Scott Peters, a former San Diego city councilman, has opened up a 954-vote lead over former state assemblywoman Lori Saldana. The original count separated the two by less than 650 votes. This district will see a competitive general election battle regardless of who becomes Bilbray’s eventual opponent. The Republicans have a 36-32 percent edge in voter registration, but Bilbray failed to break even 42 percent in the June 5 primary.