Surprisingly enough, considering it's 17 months out, there's actually been some measure of news in the California delegation, most of it pretty good for Democrats. Let's take a look at the top pickup opportunities for Democrats, as well as the top hold races. We'll start with the seats that may be contested (there are only two):
1) CA-37: This is the open seat vacated by the late Juanita Millender-McDonald, which will have an open primary on June 26 and a general election (if nobody gets 50%) a couple months thereafter. There are debates this week (Friday) and next (June 14), but so far this has been a battle of endorsements. The CA Democratic Party and the League of Conservation Voters have backed State Senator Jenny Oropeza; the Legislative Black Caucus and the CA Federation of Labor of LA County have backed Assemblywoman Laura Richardson. I do believe that Richardson's endorsements probably mean more on the ground; of course, there's also Millender-McDonald's daughter, Valerie McDonald, who some believe will "split the black vote" and hand the primary to Oropeza. This is a very safe Democratic seat, so the winner of the primary on the Democratic side is all but assured to be the next Congressman.
2) CA-11 (McNerney): Antiwar advocates were pleased with Rep. McNerney's vote on the Iraq funding bill. Former Assemblyman Dean Andal has announced
that he'll run for the seat. Obviously, the first re-elect is the toughest, so McNerney will have a fight on his hands here, whether against Andal or somebody else. However, I don't think that attacking McNerney by attacking Nancy Pelosi
, which the NRCC has done in recent radio ads, is going to work, considering the Speaker is more popular than Bush as well as previous House Speakers like Newt Gingrich.
OK, on to the Republicans. I'm going to rank them in order of most possible pickup, including their number from the last roundup
. I'm also adding the "Boxer number," an excellent system for measuring districts given to me by a reader whose name escapes me. Basically, seeing how Boxer fared in her 2004 re-election against Bill Jones in a particular district is a decent indicator of how partisan it is. If I put "57," that means Boxer received 57% of the vote. Anything over 50, obviously, is good.
1) CA-04 (Doolittle). Last month: 1. Boxer number: 40. John Doolittle's stayed out of the courthouse thus far, but he's clearly damaged goods and the GOP knows it. A number of prominent Republicans have made waves about challenging Doolittle in the primary, including Air Force reservist Eric Egland
, a former Doolittle supporter. Schwarzenegger flack and former Bush-Cheney campaign guy Steve Schmidt apparently has his support. In the article, he calls Charlie Brown a "Cindy Sheehan Democrat," which is ludicrous on several levels, but undeniably more effective in that reliably Republican district than we may think. Doolittle believes that he still has majority support, but then again he thinks rogue Democrats in the Justice Department are conspiring against him. Charlie Brown still has a better chance against Doolittle than a fresh face.
2) CA-26 (Dreier). Last month: 2. Boxer number: 48. Not much new to report here. David Dreier is the ranking member of the Rules Committee and his name comes up on occasion, but he's been pretty mum about his low fundraising totals
. Like almost all Republicans, he voted to fund Bush's war, saying "We cannot and will not abandon our mission just as real progress is starting to be made." I would think a decent campaign could make some hay out of that remark. Declared Democratic opponent Russ Warner has sent out fundraising letters, but hasn't been incredibly visible at this early stage.
3) CA-41 (Lewis). Last month: 9. Boxer number: 43. Obviously, the big story is Robert "Douchebag of Liberty"
Novak's leak (he's used to those) that Jerry Lewis won't seek re-election
, which would make this an open seat. Of course, it would still lean to the GOP in this fairly red district, but an open seat will at least give Democrats the opportunity to find a candidate and force the other side to put in some resources. Lewis' people have denied the report
that he's retiring. I previously speculated
that Lewis may be wanting out of the Congress to defend himself in a long-dormant corruption investigation, now that the hiring of a new US Attorney for Los Angeles, a fiercely independent former DA, is imminent. We're still waiting for attorney Tim Prince to jump into this race.
4) CA-24 (Gallegly). Last month: 4. Boxer number: 47. Novak also mentioned Elton Gallegly in his report:
District 24: Rep. Elton Gallegly (R) decided to retire last cycle for health reasons, only to change his mind at the last minute and run. California Republicans continue to wonder what his '08 plans will be. The congressman may not be sure himself.
Gallegly's probably safe if he runs, but nobody really knows what will happen. An open seat means a pretty good pickup opportunity relative to the others.
5) CA-50 (Bilbray). Last month: 3. Boxer number: 48. What surprised me was that the Boxer number was so high in a district everyone calls "hard right." Brian Bilbray has been demagoguing the immigration issue
of late, which for all I know works in this district. Michael Wray
, the former Francine Busby staffer who looks to be running here, hasn't been very visible this month.
6) CA-42 (Miller). Last month: 5. Boxer number: 41. As reported at Trash Dirty Gary
, Miller has tried to shift the blame
for his ethical troubles by blaming the cities and counties he represents, in a roundabout way. This tactic was blasted
in an op-ed by the Daily Bulletin.
Caught in the fallout from recommending legislation two years ago that would advance the projects of a major campaign contributor, Rep. Gary Miller now says he plans to tighten the process.
Only instead of dealing directly with that issue, the Brea Republican is going to start requiring that all cities and counties that seek federal aid from his office certify that the request will benefit the community, and not a specific individual, organization or business entity.
That's good. We would hope that government agencies making appropriations requests would be doing so on behalf of public constituents.
But Miller's attempt to turn things around by putting the certifiction burden on cities and counties seems like political subterfuge, at best.
People are on to this guy. Now there just needs to be a dynamic candidate who can breathe some life into the Democratic organizations in that district and force Miller to play defense. Stay tuned...
7) CA-45 (Bono). Last month: 8. Boxer number: 49. Mary Bono continues to focus on tangential issues
while voting in lockstep with the Republican leadership. The Boxer number here suggests that there's an opportunity if there's a good candidate. None has yet materialized.
8) CA-44 (Calvert). Last month: 10. Boxer number: 45. Ken Calvert got some negative publicity when he took over for John Doolittle on the House Appropriations Committee, despite his own corruption issues. Conservative blog RedState vowed to wage war
on him, but that hasn't seemed to go anywhere. So we'll see if this gains any traction.
9) CA-25 (McKeon). Last month: 6. Boxer number: 45. Not much to report here at all. If Buck McKeon runs again, he's very likely to win.
10) CA-52 (open seat). Last month: 7. Boxer number: 44. Despite it being an open seat, I don't expect to see anyone beat Duncan Hunter's son while he's serving in Iraq. He might not actually live in the district
(scroll down and you see that Hunter for President press releases describe his son as living in Boise, Idaho), but that hasn't stopped anyone else, like Brian Bilbray, from winning.
Labels: CA-04, CA-11, CA-24, CA-25, CA-26, CA-37, CA-41, CA-42, CA-44, CA-45, CA-50, CA-52, California