Citing too much bitterness within the electorate, actress Stacy Dash (R), who was challenging freshman Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-San Pedro), ended her campaign well before the June 5th primary. Ms. Dash, a long shot candidate campaigning as a conservative, would have had a difficult time even qualifying for the general election in a district where only 10.2% of the voters are registered Republicans. Rep. Barragan, an upset winner in 2016, now faces only Compton Mayor Aja Brown (D) as a serious opponent.
Though the California candidate filing deadline passed on March 9th, the Secretary of State has just now released the qualified list, those filed candidates who successfully fulfill all state legal requirements. Originally, almost 300 individuals filed to become congressional candidates in California’s 53 districts. On the final list, 247 of those prospective federal political contenders were officially approved. This includes incumbent, challenger, and open seat candidates who are members of all recognized political parties under California law. Only three of the 51 incumbents seeking re-election are completely unopposed.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) draws 31 official opponents, nine Democrats, eleven Republicans, and 11 minor party or independent candidates. In the open Governor’s race, 27 individuals are now qualified candidates.
California has no partisan primary. All candidates will appear together on the June 5th qualifying election ballot. The top two individuals in every race, regardless of political party affiliation or percentage attained, will advance to the general election.
The Public Policy Institute of California went into the field again with a major statewide survey (3/4-13; 1,706 CA adults) to test residents’ attitudes about issues and candidates. Looking at their new US Senate data, it is clear that the state is again headed for a double-Democratic general election. According to the jungle primary question, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D) leads state Senate President Kevin de Leon (D-Los Angeles) by a 42-16% margin with no prominent Republican candidate on the ballot.
Sen. Feinstein leads among all groups, and surprisingly her margin with Hispanics (41-22%) is about the same as her advantage among white voters (39-15%), considering that she is opposing a significant Hispanic political leader. Not surprisingly, seeing no candidate of their own to support, 71% of surveyed Republicans are undecided. Of those who did made a choice, Sen. Feinstein was getting their support in a 15-11% split.
Looking at the Public Policy Institute of California’s survey for the Governor’s race (see California Senate above), Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) continues to hold a lead. The question is whether a Republican will qualify for the second general election position. According to the jungle primary ballot test question, Mr. Newsom has a 28-14% lead over businessman and former presidential candidate John Cox (R). Close behind is former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) at 12%. Republican state Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) is next with 10%. Former Mayor Villaraigosa is making a strong push to claim second place, which would enable him to battle Newsom in the general election. Republicans have virtually no chance of winning the statewide election.
California’s top-two primary system that allows members of the same party to advance into the general election may prove a major factor in Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s (R-Costa Mesa) Orange County coastal congressional district. Yesterday, former state Assemblyman and Orange County Republican Party chairman Scott Baugh (R) pulled nomination papers in order to qualify before today’s candidate filing deadline.
Mr. Baugh, previously with Rep. Rohrabacher’s permission, began raising money for the seat in anticipation of the Congressman’s eventual retirement. Hence, he has over $545,000 in a federal campaign account. Mr. Baugh’s presence in the race, assuming he completes the filing process, could set up a situation where both Rep. Rohrabacher and he qualify for the general election. With the Democratic field split among ten candidates, none of who have ever successfully run for office, the state’s primary system could conceivably deny the Democrats a potential target.
In 2016, then-Hermosa Beach City Councilwoman Nanette Barragan’s victory over state Sen. Isadore Hall (D-Compton) in a double-Democratic general election was one of the top upsets of the last election cycle. Now, US Rep. Barragan seeks her second term. Previously, actress Stacey Dash had announced her candidacy as a Republican and is building a campaign in the heavily Democratic seat.
There was a belief that former Sen. Hall would seek a re-match, but he has apparently recruited someone else to run. Compton Mayor Aja Brown (D), apparently with Mr. Hall’s backing, filed a congressional campaign committee statement with the Federal Election Commission on Tuesday, and has scheduled an announcement news conference for later today. This development makes the June 5th qualifying election here much more interesting.
Former Rep. Joe Baca (D-Rialto) served in Congress upon winning a special election in 1999 all the way through 2012. Before that, he had been elected to the state Senate and Assembly. After the redistricting commission split his congressional district in the 2011 re-draw, Mr. Baca decided to run in the new 35th District even though his political base in the city of Rialto was placed in the 31st CD. After topping the jungle primary field, the Congressman lost the double-Democratic general election to then-state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, 56-44%. He would return to lose two more consecutive congressional campaigns in District 31, in addition to badly falling in a 2015 race for Mayor of Fontana.
This week, Mr. Baca comes back to active campaigning yet again. This time reverting to the 35th District, Mr. Baca will challenge Rep. Norma Torres (D-Pomona), the current incumbent. Needless to say, the Congresswoman is favored for re-election.
In early January, former US Rep. Doug Ose (R-Sacramento) announced that he would enter the open 2018 Governor’s campaign. Now, less than two months later, he’s dropping out. Republicans need a strong candidate just to qualify for the November ballot in the state’s top-two jungle primary format. Again having two Democrats run against each other in the Governor’s general election will ostensibly make it more difficult for Republicans to turn out their voters for the down ballot campaigns, especially when fielding no Senate candidate, either.
Orange County Assemblyman Travis Allen (R-Huntington Beach) now appears to be the Republicans’ best chance to qualify a November contender, but he will either have to place ahead of former Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa or state Treasurer John Chiang (D) in order to continue his campaign. Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) appears to be a lock to finish first in the June 5th qualifying primary. With the candidate filing deadline fast approaching on March 9th, more than 40 candidates could earn placement on the gubernatorial ballot. Four-term Gov. Jerry Brown (D; 1975-83; 2011-present) is ineligible to seek re-election.
A new Anzalone Liszt Grove survey, now known as ALG Research (2/11-15; 500 CA-25 likely jungle primary voters) finds Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) placing first in the upcoming June 5th jungle primary with 43% voter preference. Attorney Bryan Caforio (D), who lost to Mr. Knight 53-47% in the 2016 general election despite Hillary Clinton carrying the seat by almost seven percentage points, places second with 19%. Non-profit group executive Katie Hill (D) is next with 10%, followed by geologist Jess Phoenix (D) at 7 percent. Under California election law, the top two finishers regardless of political party affiliation advance to the general election.
This poll suggests that we will see the anticipated re-match between Messrs. Knight and Caforio this November.
With Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine/San Diego County) under a FBI investigation for misuse of campaign funds, a new Republican candidate announced that he is entering the congressional campaign and will compete in the June jungle primary. El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells (R) is now in the race, obviously attempting to position himself in case the legal system soon strikes at Rep. Hunter. Four Democrats have declared, two of whom have raised more than $200,000. The 50th District is safely Republican, but that could change if Rep. Hunter soon faces a federal indictment.
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