OK, I'm getting this in just under the wire. Time for the House roundup for September. There are a little over 13 months until Election Day, and with the end of the 3rd quarter on Sunday (donate
), this election is really not that far away. In fact, CQ Politics has put out their initial assessment
of the House landscape. It's favorable for Democrats, but predictably, there are only two California seats on that radar: CA-04 and CA-11. But there have been a lot of developments in the other races throughout the state as well.
I'm going to rank them in order of most possible pickup, including their number from the last roundup. I'm also, as usual, including 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.
First, let's look at the one threatened seat currently held by a Democrat.
1) CA-11 (McNerney). CQ Politics has the seat "Leans Democratic," and only two Democratic seats are less safe (Tim Mahoney in FL-16 and Nancy Boyda in KS-02). Dean Andal has the funds to make a challenge here, and he's become a born-again environmentalist
, which is curious considering his prior anti-environmental history
. But McNerney has done himself no favors. His bungled rhetoric
during the Iraq debate in August was met with outcry, and this week's vote to condemn MoveOn.org, an organization that gave him over $50,000 in 2006
, didn't exactly enthuse activists either. He tried to respond by blasting Rush Limbaugh's comments
and asking that he be taken off the air; I'm not sure how that jibes with the First Amendment. McNerney will clearly have a lot of DCCC incumbency protection, but this is obviously a race that won't be easy, and McNerney is making it difficult for activists to continue to support him.
Now, to the top 10 challengers.
1) CA-04 (Doolittle). Last month: 1. Boxer number: 40. This is one of six Republican-held seats listed in CQ's ratings as "No Clear Favorite," and one of only two where the incumbent is running for re-election (the other is Robin Hayes against netroots hero Larry Kissell in NC-08). Charlie Brown, who has a great interview in CQ
this week, actually announced his campaign
just a few weeks ago as part of a barnstorming tour. As for John Doolittle, his legal woes continue
. Eleven years' worth of documents have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department, as part of the Abramoff case. Doolittle is refusing to comply with the subpoena, setting up what could be a Constitutional showdown. Meanwhile, he has at least three high-profile primary challengers, and a lot of pressure within the district to resign. The more candidates in the primary actually helps Doolittle, as it spreads out the vote. If it's a two-person primary, he could easily lose. And Brown would be in excellent position to beat Doolittle if there's a rematch.
2) CA-26 (Dreier). Last month: 2. Boxer number: 48. Russ Warner, last seen at the Calitics Q3 event
, has been busily raising money for the end of the quarter. I'm told that the numbers will be better than Q2. Warner has also gone on the offensive
against David Dreier's shameful voting record, being one of the first Congressional challengers to use the SCHIP vote as a campaign issue. That's going to be a big vote to highlight next year. Meanwhile Dreier nearly caused an international incident in Colombia
by sitting on a lectern, continued to whine
about supposedly shoody treatment on the House Rules Committee (yeah, that never happened under Republicans), and had some shady connections
with those who were trying to steal the Presidential election with the Dirty Tricks Initiative in California.
Of course, there's a primary, but Hoyt Hilsman's campaign website hasn't been updated since July
. Russ Warner is running a professional campaign, and a good one thus far.
3) CA-50 (Bilbray). Last month: 4. Boxer number: 48. Nick Leibham, who has two nice-looking dogs
, is about to get the endorsement of Francine Busby for the Democratic primary, according to our man in San Diego
The field has been slowly clearing for a while now, with Michael Wray opting against a run and John Lee Evans running for School Board. Steve Schechter has also filed FEC paperwork to run in the district, but this endorsement would line up the one major recognizable Democratic face in the district behind Leibham. Putting to rest any remaining speculation that she might run again, much of the drama is likely over in the primary, leaving now more than a year of Bilbray-hunting.
Avoiding a primary would obviously be a plus for Leibham. Meanwhile, Bilbray is being his usual brown-hating self, calling on the feds to pay local governments
for the services spent on "illegal immigrants." This is immigrant bashing
at its worst, but while it offends the conscience of the sane, his base is energized by these theatrics. Leibham will have to do a better job of finding new voters than Busby did to have a shot at this district.
4) CA-24 (Gallegly). Last month: 3. Boxer number: 47. I'm still keeping this race fairly high, maybe higher than it should be, because of the possibility of retirement. We've seen the mass exodus of Republicans from the House, as the prospects for them regaining those plum committee chairmanships grow dim. Gallegly says he's running, but he resigned last year before un-resigning, so he's not that credible a source. So far, the only challenger in this district is Mary Pallant, who officially declared her candidacy
this week. Pallant is a fellow AD delegate of mine, and a very progressive Democrat.
In announcing her intent to run, Pallant emphasized her stance as a “progressive Democrat,” and invoked Roosevelt in her campaign theme, a Newer and Fairer Deal for the 21st Century. Her platform is described as ending the occupation of Iraq, she said, as well as implementing a universal single-payer healthcare system, seeking energy independence while enforcing environmental protections and pursuing economic strength and security through economic self-sufficiency.
Other candidates seem to be waiting this one out until they see if Gallegly actually runs. Jill Martinez, the candidate in 2006, is rumored to be running again, but hasn't declared officially. Brett Wagner kind of says he's running
, but his website hasn't been updated since February. Education activist Chip Fraser
may run; he once walked from Ventura to the state Capitol to promote education reform. The district is smaller than that!
5) CA-42 (Miller). Last month: 5. Boxer number: 41. Ron Shepston and his team have been spending September making appearances and raising money. He did both in a Blue America chat on Firedoglake
. Blue America support has in the past been crucial to Congressional success around the country. Meanwhile, Gary Miller has been voting for endless war in Iraq and against children's health care and S-CHIP. That puts him in line with every other California Republican, but Miller is also incredibly corrupt. Although, he claims that he is not under FBI scrutiny
, which is an inspiring political message.
Miller agreed to an on-the-record, unrecorded interview with The Hill days before the August recess, in which he rejected the
notion that the FBI is investigating him.
On Jan. 31, 2007, the Los Angeles Times reported that Dick Singer, a spokesman for the city of Monrovia, Calif., said federal agents had interviewed city officials about a $10 million land deal in which Miller did not pay capital gains taxes.
Miller says no taxes were owed because he was forced to sell the land under threat of eminent domain.
Miller also pointed out that a “federal agent” could be any federal entity, such as the IRS. He said he wouldn’t be surprised if the IRS had questions after the liberal-leaning group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint to the federal agency against him in August 2006.
“I’m sure the IRS wanted to see the information. A federal agent could be anyone — anyone flashing a badge,” Miller said.
Though there's not much new to report, these ethics concerns aren't likely to go away, and a good candidate could capitalize on them, a la Charlie Brown with John Doolittle.
6) CA-44 (Calvert). Last month: 7. Boxer number: 45. The Inland Empire was one of the areas where they were out gathering signatures
for the Dirty Tricks initiative, before it cratered, and Ken Calvert was quoted in the article:
Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, also favors the system, saying it could help improve the state's dismal voter-turnout rates. He said presidential candidates from both parties, who have written off California as a lock for the Democrats, would have to campaign in Inland Southern California and across the state.
"They'd have to be here, and that would create excitement," he said. "People would think their vote matters."
We'll see if Bill Hedrick can make any hay out of that next November. In addition to Calvert's dismal voting record and serious corruption issues. Calvert was one of 5 US Congressmen on a junket to the CNMI
where rumors of sex tourism abound (Dana Rohrabacher and John Doolittle were on this trip as well).
7) CA-52 (open seat) Last month: 10. Boxer number: 44. There are new candidates on the Democratic side in this San Diego-area race. Former Special Forces regular JIm Hester
and ex-Navy SEAL Mike Lumpkin
are running. Lumpkin seems to be keeping a busy schedule and generating a little press, both offline and in the blogosphere; Markos wrote enthusiastically
about him. I still think it's going to be hard to beat the son of Duncan Hunter, and hard to criticize him while he's serving in Afghanistan or possibly Iraq.
8) CA-41 (Lewis). Last month: 6. Boxer number: 43. Jerry Lewis has announced that he's running for re-election again, so that puts the retirement rumors to rest. In addition, he's managed to get the Justice Department drain the money swamp
committed to investigating him:
The veteran prosecutor who'd been heading up the Lewis case has been forced into retirement, The Los Angeles Daily Journal reported yesterday (not available online). It knocks the investigation, already stalled, further off course.
Because of civil-service rules, a 25-year veteran of the U.S. attorney's office who just recently took over the probe of Rep. Jerry Lewis must exit the office for good by the end of September, marking the third significant departure from the office's corruption unit since Lewis first came under suspicion last year.
Michael Emmick, who first joined Los Angeles's U.S. attorney's office in 1982, has been serving under one-year appointments since 2004, after he triggered a contractual clause that will allow him to collect retirement benefits immediately upon leaving the office.
It's highly unlikely that the Lewis investigation is going anywhere. Furthermore, since Lewis will run again, it's likely that Tim Prince, the likely challenger, won't. Worse, Louie Contreras, the candidate in 2006 who didn't campaign at all past the primary, and may have been hand-picked by Lewis himself as a sock-puppet challenger, appears to be running again
9) CA-03 (Lungren). Last month: unranked. Boxer number: 42. In my preference to highlight races where there's actually an announced candidate, I'm highlighting this one. Dan Lungren is fairly entrenched as an incumbent, but 2006 challenger Bill Durston is running again
. Who knows? Maybe the Charlie Brown magic will wear off on Durston and propel him to make a race out of it in this Republican district. Here's his website
10) CA-45 (Bono). Last month: 8. Boxer number: 49. I'm breaking my "no candidate" rule because I want to see this potentially competitive district be challenged, and I do believe someone will eventually step up. But more important than that, I wanted to mention that someone in Congress is named Miss Mary Mack
. Notably, Bono was the only California Republican to vote for SCHIP, which suggests that she knows she has to moderate her views in the district.
Special mention: Because it ought to be mentioned that Dana Rohrabacher thinks the premier of China wants to poison the President
. This guy is in Congress, by the way.
Labels: Brian Bilbray, California, Charlie Brown, Congress, David Dreier, Dean Andal, Elton Gallegly, Gary Miller, Jerry McNerney, John Doolittle, Mary Pallant, Nick Leibham, Ron Shepston, Russ Warner