Monday, April 17, 2017

California Shaping Up To Be An Elephant's Grave Yard In The 2018 Midterms


The biggest Democratic delegation in Congress is, by far, from California. Of California's 53 House members, 39 are Democrats. Only 14 are Republicans and it's realistic to imagine that 14 being cut in half in the 2018 midterm cycle. Yesterday's L.A. Times noted without flinching that last month’s state registration report reveals an accelerated erosion of Republican strength. Their hold on those 14 districts is weak-- and that in not a single one do they hold a majority of voters. "There are a number of Republican incumbents who are sitting on ticking time bombs,” said Eric McGhee, a researcher at the nonpartisan Public Policy Institute of California.
The GOP’s statewide brand was once lustrous enough to carry six straight presidential elections, from 1968 to 1988. Compare that with last November, when President Trump lost half of the Republican congressional districts. In eight of the nominally Republican districts, Democratic voter registration has risen since 2013. How many of those saw an uptick in Republicans? Zero.

Two Republican pluralities have shrunk more than others in the last four years: those in districts represented by Reps. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) and Mimi Walters (R-Irvine).

“There’s a long-term trend for Republican registration to be sagging,” McGhee said. The reason, as he and other researchers have found, is that young Californians coming into the political mainstream are registering either as Democrats or as unaffiliated “no party preference” voters. While some still occasionally choose GOP candidates, voters from days gone by-- the ones being replaced-- were reliable and registered as Republicans.

“That replacement process is just inexorably driving Republican numbers down,” McGhee said. “And it’s not clear where the bottom is.”

...[T]he Republican wall could crumble in the next round of political map drawing. In 2001, a bipartisan closed-door agreement gave 19 House seats to the GOP, a gerrymandering that sparked the creation of an independent redistricting commission. When the commission ignored political party registration in 2011, Republicans lost five House seats. The commission will again draw districts after the 2020 census. If demographics truly are destiny, the Grand Old Party has work to do. And fast.
If Californians have to wait for that for the Republican wall to crumble it will be due entirely to an incompetent and horribly corrupt DCCC, incompetence and corruption California Democrats are sick of and unwilling to take any longer. Some power was wrested from the hands of Nancy Pelosi whose grip on the DCCC has resulted in an erosion of control of dozens and dozens of House seats nationally since she started appointing DCCC chairs. Her selection of Rahm Emanuel was the literal death knell for any notion of an effective or even vaguely competent DCCC. It hasn't gotten any better with her subsequent appointments and this year rank-and-file Democrats in Congress forced her to accept some changes including the election of regional Vice Chairs. In California, Ted Lieu was unanimously elected. He's not part of that DCCC losing DNA and isn't tied to any of the Rahm Emanuel precepts that have made the committee the fail-safe insurance policy the Republicans needed for holding onto the House in perpetuity.

Local Democratic county parties have come to loath the DCCC and recognize it as an enemy of accomplishing anything. One county chairman told me this morning that "The DCCC keeps screwing up our congressional elections. We're sick of it and we're not going to let it happen anymore. Everybody has high hopes that Ted Lieu is going to approach this very differently from the way the DCCC has in the last decade." The chairman of the L.A. County Democratic Party-- and probably next state party chair-- Eric Bauman, told Bay Area Democrats last week that the goofballs at the DCCC have been "carpetbagging [their loser candidates] into districts where we have perfectly good candidates of our own." And as state party chair, Bauman is committed, for example, to working with Lieu to do something the DCCC has adamantly refused to ever do-- recruiting a solid Democratic candidate to take on Devin Nunes in CA-22 (Fresno, Tulare, Visalia) and starting to build towards winning that seat.

No doubt Bauman had CA-25 in mind, where the DCCC drove a local candidate out of the congressional race, replaced him with some outsider, Brian Caforio, who proceeded to under-perform Hillary Clinton dramatically and lose-- badly lose-- what should have been a sure Democratic win. This cycle a local candidate, Katie Hill, is running for the nomination. She remarked that "Most of the Republican-held seats left in California are made up of a combination of suburban and rural communities, like those that make up my home district. These communities have strong identities, pride, and their own cultures. If we want to successfully reclaim these seats, it is imperative that we have candidates who have a deep understanding of their districts and are qualified based on life experience and community ties, not just their ability to fundraise. It doesn't matter how much money the Democrats throw at a race-- if you have a candidate that is perceived as an outsider, we will never win."

I ran into Ted Lieu the other day and he told me he's meeting with Wendy Reed this week, the Democrat taking on the longshot campaign to dislodge Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, something that is sure to displease Pelosi who doesn't believe in challenging Republican leaders electorally and has relentlessly kept the DCCC from ever doing so. McCarthy and Nunes have been exempt and have free-passes to reelection year after year after year. Those free-passes should be a thing of the past, at least in the region Ted Lieu is overseeing. When we reached Wendy today, she told us that she "understands the need for the DCCC to heavily invest in best-bet districts like CA-25, but districts like CA-23 next door deserve some party support as well. The Los Angeles and Tulare County portions of CA-23 voted 10 points more liberal than Kern, and deserve representation. Not only do people in such districts deserve candidates in a basic sense of representational democracy, but Democratic candidates market the Democratic Party and its values and ideals with our campaigns, we promote party membership, the party platform, and future votes. I have heard that our reorganized DNC/DCCC understands this and intends to help more districts, so I will continue to hope and advocate for it."

This cycle, Lieu is encouraging Democrats to run in districts the DCCC has never even considered before-- including against a powerful GOP chairmen like Ed Royce and Devin Nunes, not to mention Dana Rohrabacher, Darrell Issa, Mimi Walters, as well as the regular suspects the DCCC has continuously screws up (Denham, Valadao, Knight). And in the past, where the DCCC has aggressively discouraged Democrats from taking on Republicans like McCarthy, Duncan Hunter, Ken Calvert and Paul Cook, Lieu has been willing to spend time helping candidates even in these "impossible" districts.

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