With 16 months to go before Election Day, some Democratic challengers are getting a little more visible in their efforts to unseat Republican incumbents. I see good news at the very top of the target list, and elsewhere we're still waiting to see who will run. Let's focus on the top 10 races where a Republican is currently serving, knowing that we are still going to have a fight in CA-11 to re-elect Jerry McNerney (although that probably won't be against Guy Houston
, who may be on trial for fraud at the time).
So let's take a look at the top 10 challenges. 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." 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. Everyone that Rep. John Doolittle has ever known or worked with is currently talking to the FBI. The sense is that it's just a matter of time. His newfound antiwar stance
didn't translate into a vote for responsible redeployment yesterday; it was all talk. Charlie Brown (who has a spiffy new website
) has released a comprehensive national security plan
that is a good read. I have not seen him release any full Q2 fundraising numbers just yet, but given that he's one of only two spotlighted candidates on Blue Majority
, I'm sure they'll be solid. We do know that he raised over $45,000 on ActBlue
with almost 1,000 contributors. That's significant.
2) CA-26 (Dreier). Last month: 2. Boxer number: 48. The more I hear about this race, the more I like it. I think this should be the number one target for Southern California progressives. Dreier is lashed to Bush (and in his case Giuliani) like everybody else in the California caucus; but he's got a swing district and a real challenger. Russ Warner, who ran last time, announced that he raised around $100,000 in the 2nd quarter, and has over $150,000 cash on hand. According to the press release, "Warner has more money on hand at this early stage of the campaign than all but one Democratic nominee has ever raised and spent against David Dreier in the entire general election since he was first elected to Congress in 1980." This account
of Warner shows that he is getting local coverage, and the fact that he has the endorsement of Hilda Solis is a major coup. That his son is serving a tour in Iraq right now adds an emotional appeal.
There is at least one other challenger who's raising money at a decent clip. Hoyt Hilsman also has $150,000 CoH
after having loaned his campaign $100,000 personally. Hilsman is an author and a professor.
3) CA-24 (Gallegly). Last month: 3. Boxer number: 47. It's still retirement watch for Elton Gallegly. He has $800,000 in the bank
, which would presume a run. But he had $1.1 million in the bank two years ago, when he retired and then clumsily returned to the race. We know at least 3 people are mounting a run against him; 2006 opponent Jill Martinez, 2004 opponent Brett Wagner, and my friend and fellow delegate Mary Pallant. Richard Francis, a prominent lawyer, has also made a little noise
about running. So the sharks are circling and waiting to see what Gallegly will do.
4) CA-50 (Bilbray). Last month: 5. Boxer number: 48. The fact that there are three legitimate challengers to Brian Bilbray shows that there is some Democratic activism within the district. Our San Diego correspondent Lucas O'Connor has given us this account
of Michael Wray's efforts at outreach to Democrats. John Lee Evans and Nick Leibham are also making the rounds in the district. As for Brian Bilbray, we do know that he hates brown people and he bottles his own beer
. I don't know if he's committed a firing offense, though certainly there's a pro-Bush voting record opponents can highlight.
5) CA-41 (Lewis). Last month: 3. Boxer number: 43. There's also a retirement watch of sorts here, as we all wait and see if Robert Novak's report that Lewis won't seek re-election is true. We also learned this week that Lewis is dedicated to helping his constituents in Washington, DC
, where he requested a $500,000 earmark for a Metro station that would be three blocks from his Capitol-area home. That could be turned into a defining issue in an election. There are rumblings
that it would be best for Republicans to urge Lewis to retire, so of course they won't do it. There is still no word on whether attorney Tim Prince will jump into this race, at least that I've heard.
6) CA-44 (Calvert). Last month: 8. Boxer number: 45. The next of the "corruption boys" of the GOP, Calvert is in trouble over a recent grand jury ruling
that showed a city government agency illegally sold him and other investors a four-acre parcel of land a few years back. He doesn't seem deterred by it
, and really the grand jury ruled against the government agency and not him. This is absolutely a district where we should run someone strong. A recent report showed that Riverside County is poised to become the second-largest in the state, behind only Los Angeles County. Democrats need visibility there in a big way. Defenders of Wildlife is running ads
against Calvert, so they obviously see some vulnerabilities there.
7) CA-42 (Miller). Last month: 6. Boxer number: 41. Gary Miller rounds out the GOP corruption boys. It's such a Republican seat that just making him spend money will be a win. Not much to report this month.
8) CA-45 (Bono). Last month: 8. Boxer number: 49. I would love to have more to say about this race, but sadly, I don't. She is apparently one of Washington's most eligible bachelorettes
. That's all I've got for ya.
9) CA-25 (McKeon). Last month: 9. Boxer number: 45. McKeon, the ranking Democrat on the Education and Labor Committee, railed against the recent passage
of an increase in the Pell Grant to make college more affordable for our best an brightest. Yeah, because that would be terrible
. I would love to see someone challenge this guy.
10) CA-52 (open seat). Last month: 10. Boxer number: 44. Despite it being an open seat, I still don't expect to see anyone beating Duncan Hunter's son while he's serving in Iraq.
Labels: California, Charlie Brown, Congress, David Dreier, John Doolittle, Russ Warner