Wednesday, June 04, 2014

What Happened In California Last Night?


Israel, Aguilar-- a victory for the Republican wing of the Democratic Party

There were, at least in theory, 53 congressional seats up for grabs in California last night. Almost all of them, however, were't really up for grabs, at least not last night. Four, however, were: 3 open seats-- retirements of Republican Buck McKeon (CA-25), Republican Gary Miller (CA-31) and Democrat Henry Waxman (CA-33)-- and a heavily financed insurgency by a ConservaDem, Ro Khanna, against progressive icon Mike Honda (CA-17).

Two of the districts are natural Red-to-Blue targets: CA-25 and CA-31. CA-31 is a D+5 district and Democrats should have captured it in 2012-- and would have had DCCC chairman Steve Israel not interfered on behalf of corrupt conservative Pete Aguilar. Israel did the same thing again this cycle, even though a far more electable candidate, Eloise Reyes, was in the race. He helped Aguilar with fundraising, helped poison the well for Reyes and spent $172,269 attacking Republican Lesli Gooch and hated Democrat Joe Baca. The results were nearly a replay of last cycle's catastrophe:
Paul Chabot ®- 11,329 (27%)
Pete Aguilar (D)- 7,368 (17%)
Lesli Gooch ®- 6,978 (17%)
Eloise Reyes (D)- 6,746 (16%)
Joe Baca (D)- 4,799 (11%)
Danny Tillman (D)- 3,648 (9%)
Ryan Downing ®- 1,421 (3%)
Aguilar managed to slip into second place by a mere 390 votes, avoiding Republican vs Republican general election like the one Israel presided over in 2012. But that is exactly what did happen in CA-25, where Israel's heinous posture was even worse. Cook reports that the district has a PVI of R+2. That's old news.; shows the way the district has changed and clearly predicts that by November, CA-25 will have an even PVI.

While all eyes have been fixed on the very loud and expensive primary campaign that's pitted Republican hopefuls Tony Strickland and Steve Knight against one another in hopes of facing Democrat Lee Rogers in November, a strange thing has been happening within the district: Democrats have been closing in on Republicans rapidly this year.

The five-point spread in party registration that the GOP enjoyed two years ago is now just a one-point spread today. In fact, the Democrats have narrowed the gap by 2.6% since December 31.

The reason for this appears to be a significant push by Democrats in the 36th Assembly District (Antelope Valley and some parts of northern SCV)… [T]he City of Santa Clarita has a 6.7% GOP advantage, down from 9% in 2012 (ten years ago, it was 17%).
Last cycle, one of the biggest Democratic donors was trying to get me to join the board iof a music-related company she was forming. I had no interest. She was persistent but I really had no interest. And then she figured out a way to get me to change my mind. She offered to through an even for CA-25 candidate Lee Rogers at her mansion and guarantee she would raise a minimum of $50,000 for him. Sign me up! We agreed to meet at some watering hole where people like me avoid like the plague. I think I may have even changed out of my hoodie. I shouldn't have. She swept into the room and informed me that, "Darling, Steve told me your candidate isn't serious and isn't even going to really run. He knows about these things." Undermining progressive candidates like this is something I've watched Steny Hoyer, Rahm Emanuel, Debbie Wasserman Schulz and Steve Israel do for years. She didn't do the event for Lee and I didn't join her board. He was serious of course and he did run-- and came closer to beating Buck McKeon than anyone else ever had. He came so close, in fact, that McKeon decided to avoid a rematch by becoming a lobbyist.

This cycle, Israel did his worst to prevent Lee Rogers from winning a very winnable open seat. He'd rather spend DCCC money on Blue Dogs and New Dems running in much, much redder and much less winnable districts. AR-02, for example, is an Israel fave. He's already reserved $625,000 in broadcast time between October 21 and November 4, even though the Democrat in the race is a conservative who has signaled he'll be regularly voting with the GOP and even though the district has a PVI of R+8. Rogers, who hwas endorsed by the Congressional Progressive Caucus, is in a district with a rapidly narrowing 1% registration gap was left to fend for himself. The DCCC spent no money in CA-25 the way they did in CA-31. The result: a Republican vs Republican general election in November:
Tony Strickland ®- 14,573 (29%)
Steve Knight ®- 14,016 (28%)
Lee Rogers (D)- 11,107 (22%)
Ivan Thomas (D)- 4,868 (10%)
Troy Castagna ®- 2,905 (6%)
David Bruce (L)- 907 (2%)
Michael Mussack (NPD)- 700 (1%)
Navraj Singh ®- 534 (1%)
CA-33 was the most-watched race in the state, with 18 candidates on the ballot. 17.7% of registered voters bothered casting ballots. The DCCC played no role, although the California Democratic Party worked on behalf of Ted Lieu, who will face off against Republican Elan Carr in November and, hopefully, ending the political career of carpetbagger Wendy Greuel. The results among the 8 candidates who got more than 1% of the vote (along with the amount each campaign spent):
Elan Carr ®- 17,904 (21.49%)- $402,594
Ted Lieu (D)- 15,870 (19.05%)- $448,551
Wendy Greuel (D)- 13,976 (16.77%)- $864,173
Marianne Williamson (NDP)- 10,789 (12.95%)- $1,340,720
Matt Miller (D)- 9,973 (11.97%)- $353,595
Lily Gilani ®- 5,831 (7%)
Barbara Mulvaney (D)- 1,945 (2.33%)- $142,096
Kevin Mottus ®- 1,935 (2.32%) $64,373
Vanity candidate David Kanuth raised $912,945 and spent $609,153, and garnered 1,177 voted (1%) for his efforts. The only outside spending in the race was EMILY's List's $158,519 on behalf of Greuel and Blue America's $20,923 on behalf of Williamson. The tenor of Greuel's highly negative campaign turned off women voters she was depending on, acerbated her poor image with the voters and cost her a spot in the general. She has $185,960 left in her campaign treasury.

Up in the Silicon Valley area (CA-17), Mike Honda unleashed a can of whoop-ass on plutocrat-backed Ro Khanna, beating him decisively. The results, again, with amounts spent:
Mike Honda (D)- 28,136 (49%)- $1,122,500
Ro Khanna (D)- 15,691 (27%)- $2,615,519
Vanila Singh ®- 9,783 (17%)- $216,771
Joel Vanlandingham ®- 4,248 (7%)
Honda and Khanna will face off in November.

Last night Blue America challengers Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12) and Pat Murphy (IA-01) won their primaries and, like Ted Lieu (CA-33), advance to the general election. If you'd like to give them a boost, you can do that here on the Blue America ActBlue page. Next week's key primaries are opportunities for Patrick Hope (VA-08) and Jay Stamper in the South Carolina Senate race.

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At 7:39 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a resident of CA-31, I am now faced with having no vote in the November election due to the new primary setup. I refuse to vote for a Republican, and I can't vote for Aguillar.

I have had to leave ballot choices empty before (Lookin' at YOU, Feinstein!), and I'm getting tired of seeing how many more times I get to take this only choice when the Top 2 method fails me.

At 7:49 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

I wouldn't vote for either one of them either.

At 9:54 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just wanted to drop a quick note to say I do really appreciate your analysis and follow-up of these Cong. races. Very informative.

Does Pelosi dictate that Israel stays in his position?


At 10:14 AM, Blogger ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I also appreciate it Howie, and I'd like to echo bamage's question.

My impression is that Pelosi has to keep Hoyer and such as happy, or else they'd demote her. But I could be wrong...maybe she's an active part of the problem. I don't have any real information about it.


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