Identifying and analyzing emerging trends in campaigns and elections.

Posts Tagged ‘Julia Brownley’

Activity Points to Another Calif. Retirement

In House on December 3, 2013 at 10:33 am

For the better part of a year, retirement rumors have been swirling around House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA-25), and a new political move yesterday suggests that such speculation may soon become reality.

Unusual political occurrences have been happening in and around Ventura and west Los Angeles counties during the past two weeks. Tony Strickland is a former Republican state senator, statewide candidate, and 2012 congressional nominee in Ventura County’s new District 26. Last November, Strickland lost to then-Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D) 47-53 percent. He originally had been planning to seek a re-match with Rep. Brownley in the upcoming mid-term election, but suddenly reversed course and recently said he would not run in the 26th District next year. He made it plain, however, that his personal plans included running for a different office.

The local Republican leadership then recruited Assemblyman Jeff Gorell to replace Strickland as their favored 26th District candidate. Gorell’s official announcement last week included an endorsement from Tony Strickland.
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Race Updates; Freshmen Stats

In Election Analysis, House on November 14, 2012 at 4:54 pm

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.

The Battle for California

In House on October 2, 2012 at 10:52 am

The 17 California House races are showing varying levels of competition, and the US Chamber of Commerce just laid down the gauntlet to help Republican candidates in 10 of the districts. The Chamber publicly disclosed they will spend upwards of $3.3 million just in the 10 Golden State districts. Among the group are three GOP incumbents, Reps. Jeff Denham (R-CA-10), Mary Bono Mack (R-CA-36), and Brian Bilbray (R-CA-52). These ads feature a positive message.

In three others, Democratic incumbents are hit with negative ads. They are Reps. John Garamendi (D-CA-3), Jerry McNerney (D-CA-9), and Lois Capps (D-CA-24).

Three new open seats are in the next group: CA-26 (Tony Strickland-R vs. Julia Brownley-D), CA-41 (John Tavaglione-R vs. Mark Takano-D) and CA-47 (Gary DeLong-R vs. Alan Lowenthal-D).

Finally, another Republican incumbent, Rep. Dan Lungren (R-CA-7), also is receiving help but the ads in his Sacramento County district focus negative attention on his Democratic opponent, physician and 2010 congressional nominee Ami Bera.

All of the political ads begin with Darlene Miller, owner of the 2008 US Chamber Small Business of the Year, talking about the necessity of understanding which candidate to support. The graphics and voice-over then transition into the individual message for the particular district. The most creative of the ads may be their spot against Jose Hernandez, Rep. Denham’s Democratic opponent and former NASA astronaut whose own ads highlight his career exploring space. Based upon his announced support for Obamacare, the tag line asks “Jose, what planet are you on?”

Expect more outside organization media buys to now surface from all sides of the ideological spectrum.

California Primary Highlights

In House on June 6, 2012 at 12:21 pm

The new California primary, as we knew it would with the new voting system that sends the top two finishers to the general election regardless of political party affiliation, produced some surprises.

We will provide in-depth coverage of these results when the large number of absentee ballots are finally added to last night’s totals, numbers that could change the order of some of the individual race standings. But, for now, the highlights:

In perhaps the biggest surprise of the evening, considering this is largely a Democratic seat, Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA-42), a major redistricting victim, appears to have qualified for the general election in the San Bernardino-based 31st District, very possibly against another Republican. With the election night votes counted, Miller led the jungle primary with 27 percent of the vote, no small feat in a new district where he has literally no carry over from his previous constituency, while state Senate Minority Leader Bob Dutton (R) is currently placing second with 25 percent. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) is third with 23 percent, but the absentee ballots could alter this order. Should it stand, this result would be a boon for Republicans because it would guarantee the party’s victory in the fall, since the general election would be between two members of the GOP. This would be an extraordinary outcome in a district that likely will elect Democrats in most elections.

Absentee ballots will definitely decide the outcome of the new 8th District, also largely a San Bernardino County seat, just to the east and north of CA-31. There, a four-way split among three Republicans and a Democrat will be sorted out to determine which two individuals advance to the general election. Two Republicans, right now, lead, but all four candidates are showing a 15 percent total. The pair of leaders are Assemblyman Paul Cook and homebuilder Gregg Imus. Democrat Jackie Conaway, a law office manager, is third and businessman Phil Liberatore, another Republican, is fourth, but the order could change drastically once all of the ballots are finally tabulated. San Bernardino County Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, originally thought to be a potential general election qualifier, is in fifth place with 11 percent and likely out of the competition.

In the 30th District mega-congressional race between Democratic incumbents Brad Sherman and Howard Berman, both will qualify for the double-Democratic general election. Sherman placed first, with 42 percent, over Berman (32 percent). This is likely to become the most expensive congressional race in the United States. Sherman currently represents 58 percent of this new district while Berman only has 20 percent, thus explaining the order of last night’s outcome.

In another Democratic incumbent pairing, freshman Rep. Janice Hahn claimed a 60-40 percent placement victory against Rep. Laura Richardson, meaning the two will again square-off in the general election. Only about 33,000 votes were cast in this election, not counting more absentee ballots to follow but, since this was already a two-way race, the two would have advanced to the general election regardless of last night’s outcome.

In one of the new seats that the California redistricting commission created, GOP state Assemblyman David Valadao scored 57 percent against two Democrats in his Bakersfield-anchored congressional seat. Unless the absentees change the order, Valadao will face businessman John Hernandez in the general election and not Fresno City Councilman Blong Xiong, as many expected. The size of Valadao’s primary victory gives him a major advantage in the general election. Such an outcome would be another major score for the California GOP.

In the marginal 26th District, GOP state Sen. Tony Strickland will advance to the general election very likely against state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D). Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, a Republican who chose to run in this race as an Independent, is third, some eight percentage points behind Brownley so it is unlikely that the absentee count will change this order.

In the Oakland area, 20-term Rep. Pete Stark is headed for a double-Democratic general election against Dublin City Councilman Eric Swalwell, as expected. This could become, however, a very serious contest as Stark only finished first last night by a 42-36 percent margin. This is a campaign to watch in the fall because Stark is clearly in jeopardy of losing his seat, but the Democrats retain the district regardless of the final outcome.

In a race that avoided a double-Democrat general election, state Assemblyman Jared Huffman advanced to the November vote and will claim the seat at that time, as Republican Dan Roberts edged a split Democratic field for second place. The Democratic nature of the CD will yield an easy Huffman win later this year. Had another Democrat qualified, this contest would have become very interesting.

A dozen incumbents, including members such as Stark, Henry Waxman, Jeff Denham, Lois Capps, Grace Napolitano and Brian Bilbray to name a few, finished with less than 50 percent of the total vote, suggesting further potential competition in the general election.

Much more to come on the California races once the final vote tallies become known.

Weekly Redistricting Update

In Redistricting on May 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm

Today’s spotlight takes us to southern California to underscore just how much difference redistricting and election law changes can make in campaign strategy. The new CA-26 was deliberately designed as a 50/50 seat, and the state’s novel primary law is forcing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC) into making some rather unorthodox spending decisions.

CALIFORNIA (current delegation: 34D-19R) – The new 26th District is fully contained within Ventura County, which sits between cities and counties of Los Angeles and Santa Barbara. According to the latest census count, Ventura has 823,318 residents, which makes it a major political division. The new 26th was designed with the idea of creating a marginal district that would remain competitive throughout the decade. As an open seat, because Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24) is retiring, the district appears to be performing as intended.

Sixty-four percent of the district’s territory comes from Gallegly’s 24th District. Thirty-five percent is added from Democratic Rep. Lois Capps’ 23rd CD, with just a sliver from Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D) current 30th (1 percent). Though President Obama captured 56 percent of the vote here in 2008, the 2010 numbers tell a completely different story. In the governor’s race, Democrat Jerry Brown, the eventual winner, came up one point short in the 26th, as Republican Meg Whitman nipped him 47-46 percent. Republican Carly Fiorina came in ahead of Sen. Barbara Boxer (D) by an almost identical 47-45 percent spread. Finally, to counterbalance the Obama double-digit win, the Republican candidate for Attorney General, Steve Cooley, notched a 49-38 percent score against Democrat Kamala Harris, the statewide winner by less than half a percentage point.

In addition to redistricting, the other major California electoral change concerns how the state nominates candidates for the general election. Instead of featuring a closed primary election system that sends one Democrat, one Republican, and multiple Independent candidates to the general election, the new system puts forth only the two top vote-getters regardless of political party affiliation. The new procedure is creating havoc in District 26.

The Democrats were solidly behind their Ventura County supervisor, Steve Bennett, early in the race. Both the local and national party felt Bennett gave them their best chance of attaining victory in the marginal seat. After officially entering the race, Bennett decided to return to local government instead, and withdrew from the congressional campaign. This left the Democrats without a strong candidate until they were able to recruit three-term state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley; but the heart of her current legislative district is in Santa Monica and not Ventura County. For their part, Republicans coalesced around state Sen. Tony Strickland, who had twice been a statewide candidate.

It is the second supervisor in the race, Republican Linda Parks, who will test just how the new law works. Instead of running as a Republican, knowing that Strickland would take the majority of the GOP primary votes, she decided to declare herself as an Independent, thinking that this would be her best chance of snatching a run-off position away from the Democrats. Parks is a major Ventura County political figure, serving her third term on the Board of Supervisors after winning election as mayor of Thousand Oaks after serving on the locality’s city council. This contrasts heavily with Brownley, though representing some of Ventura County, who actually hails from Santa Monica in Los Angeles County – a point that Parks consistently reiterates.

The set-up here is forcing the DCCC to involve itself in the June election because they fear that both Strickland and Parks could qualify for the general, thus leaving them without a candidate in a seat that they can certainly win.

The DCCC is therefore actively communicating with voters, sending mailers that “Photoshop” Parks into a setting with Republican leaders such as Sarah Palin and former president George W. Bush. Others drive home the point to Democratic voters that Parks is actually a Republican. But Parks counters by highlighting other campaign messages from her previous opponent, ironically Sen. Strickland’s wife, Audra, who challenged her for the board two years ago, that identified her as a liberal and being too aligned with the Democrats. Parks is cleverly juxtaposing both mail messages to prove that she is, in fact, independent because both parties have launched similar attacks against her.

Redistricting and the election law process were done to change the voting system in California, and it appears those goals have been accomplished. The developments in the 26th District until the June 5 qualifying election will be very interesting to watch. It is clear we are seeing unusual happenings here, which are expected to continue.