Getting this one in under the wire. On the last day of April, with just over a month to go until the June primaries, and six months to go until Election Day, there's a lot going on all over the state in the Congressional races. Of the 19 seats in California currently held by Republicans, 17 will be contested in the fall, and some strongly so. And we now have a full 34 Democrats with the election of Jackie Speier early in the month, and only one of them is a serious challenge. We also have the first quarter of 2008 fundraising numbers, which will raise some eyebrows. You can track these races yourself with the 2008 Race Tracker
A note: I'm mainly getting my numbers on cash-on-hand competitiveness from the Swing State Project
. Fundraising information comes from the FEC
Here we go...
1. CA-11. Incumbent: Jerry McNerney
. Main challenger: Dean Andal. Cook number: R+3. % Dem turnout in the Presidential primary: 53.7%. DCCC defended. Well, we're seeing today the San Jose Mercury News reporting
that this race is a "pure tossup." I don't know where they're getting that from. There's no question it'll be competitive, but I look at the metric of fundraising in the first quarter, and I see that Andal, who is supposed to be the number one challenger for Republicans this cycle, couldn't manage to raise more than $90,000. That's not really the numbers of a formidable opponent. He trails McNerney in cash-on-hand by a 2-1 margin and will need significant outside expenditure support to win. He's getting some of that, but the DCCC isn't abandoning McNerney either, already putting together their Radical Andal
site, designed to paint the challenger as an extremist in the pocket of corporate lobbyists. I'm sure they'll bring up these ties to Don Young's PAC
, arguably the most corrupt member of Congress there is. Both sides are headed door to door
in the district, and McNerney is picking up a nice issue
with the "Helping Our Veterans Keep Their Homes Act of 2008." The district is turning quite blue, and I like McNerney's chances to hold the seat.
I'm going to do three tiers in setting apart the top seats where we have challenges to Republican incumbents.
1. CA-04. Last month: 1. Open seat. Dem. challenger: Charlie Brown
. Repub. challengers: Doug Ose, Tom McClintock. PVI #: R+11. % Dem turnout in primary: 44.7. DCCC targeted. Charlie Brown is the John McCain of this Congressional cycle. He's sitting back and reaching voters while his opponents bruise and batter each other. The differences are that Brown is a better candidate and he has a bigger money advantage. But he must be sitting back and laughing right now. Doug Ose has gone after Tom McClintock drawing welfare from the state of California
in the form of per diem payments. McClintock called Ose a liberal Democrat
. Most of the headlines in the race have headlines like McClintock, Ose Attack Each Other
. Neither of them are from the district
- McClintock won't even be able to vote for himself
in the primary - and in the meantime, lifelong resident Charlie Brown is making things happen. He's mobilizing volunteers
in district offices. He's continuing to donate campaign funds
to groups that provide support from veterans. And he's drawing on important support
, like this message from area veterans.
Last week, something unprecedented in our country's history happened here in Roseville. While politicians in both parties used the Iraq War Anniversary for pontificating and armchair quarterbacking, a local candidate for office (himself a 26-year vet with a son going back for his fifth rotation in Iraq) made good on a pledge to donate 5% of money raised in his congressional campaign to non profit organizations helping veterans and families in need. He gave away $17,500 last Thursday - just a down payment [...]
As veterans, we would hope that the voters of District Four understand that tough talk by career politicians usually masks the coward within. Ose and McClintock are birds of a feather, flocking together.
We are soldiers. We believe in keeping promises. We believe in leading by example. We believe that patriotism trumps partisanship, action speaks louder than words, and we know, first hand what it takes to defend America. And for all of these reasons and more, we are proudly supporting Retired Lt. Col. Charlie Brown for Congress.
Powerful stuff. And another reason you shouldn't believe the hype that this district is hopeless - Charlie Brown is ready to win.
2. CA-26. Last month: 2. Incumbent: David Dreier. Challenger: Russ Warner
. PVI #: R+4. % Dem. turnout: 50.2. DCCC targeted. On the financial front, Warner came close to raising as much as Dreier in the 1st quarter ($136,000 to $110,000), but Dreier still has a big well of cash to draw from. So the key for Warner is to find and exploit areas of weakness. One of them is health care. Warner vowed to forego the Congressional health care package
until his constituents are fully covered - a very smart tactic that forces Dreier to confront the issue. He also used the anxiety around the housing crisis to note that Dreier took $12,000 in contributions from members of Countrywide Financial
while voting against aid for homeowners. This is particularly salient given that Countrywide was basically looking past lying on applications
in order to drive people who couldn't afford it into risky loans. For his part, Dreier is trying to pin high gas prices on Democrats, when he's voted time and again against reining in record oil company profits and removing their subsidies. Warner is running a pretty smart campaign thus far, and clearly Dreier knows he's in for a fight.
3. CA-50. Last month: 3. Incumbent: Brian Bilbray. Challengers: Nick Leibham
, Cheryl Ede
. PVI #: R+5. % Dem. turnout: 50.8. DCCC targeted. I like Nick Leibham's motto at the top of his website: "I am running for Congress because I want to be proud of my government again." Local op-ed columnists think he might indeed have reason
to be proud come November - Logan Jenkins think the race isn't separated by more than a few points. Leibham had decent fundraising in Q1 and is only a couple hundred thousand dollars behind Brian Bilbray in cash-on-hand. We know that Bilbray will try to make this a single-issue race on immigration and I say let him. It's getting him headlines in the district like Bilbray strikes out on the Constitution
. Cheryl Ede is running a strong grassroots campaign and endorsed the Responsible Plan
to end the war in Iraq. If there's one beef I have with Leibham it's an unwillingness to be bold and run his campaign on contrasting policies. Hopefully he'll learn this lesson.
4. CA-45. Last month: 4. Incumbent: Mary Bono Mack. Challengers: Paul Clay
, David Hunsicker
, Julie Bornstein. PVI #: R+3. % Dem. turnout: 51.3. Julie Bornstein, former Assemblywoman and affordable housing expert, got into this campaign late but she was still able to raise around $30,000 in a matter of weeks. Add to that some money from prior election accounts and she's already within a couple hundred thousand dollars in cash on hand of Mary Bono Mack, whose fundraising has been anemic this year. I don't think she's taking this race seriously, but Bornstein is rounding up all the key endorsements, from the Senators Boxer and Feinstein, the CDP, labor, et al., and she's going to run a strong race. She does need a website - if she has one, I can't find it. Paul Clay and David Hunsicker are also running.
5. CA-03. Last month: 6. Incumbent: Dan Lungren. Challenger: Bill Durston
. PVI #: R+7. % Dem turnout: 51.8. It should have raised eyebrows throughout the country when Fourthbranch Dick Cheney
came out from his undisclosed location to appear at a fundraiser for Dan Lungren. Cheney doesn't visit districts where the Democrat doesn't have a shot, and this was WAY early for someone in Washington to be sounding the alarm button. Maybe they noticed that Lungren only raised around $100,000 in the first quarter, nearly matched by Bill Durston's $75,000. Durston was quick to respond
to the Cheney fundraiser, too.
Dr. Bill Durston, Lungren’s Democratic opponent for House of Representatives in California’s 3rd Congressional District, states, “The fact that Dan Lungren would have Dick Cheney as his special honored guest at a fundraiser is one more demonstration of the fact that Lungren is in virtual lock step with the Bush/Cheney Administration.”
It's the old Cheney/Bush double bind; they help raise money, but most voters don't want to see you and Darth Cheney or W. in the same room. With more favorable numbers
headed Durston's way, this race continues to get more and more competitive.
6. CA-46. Last month: 5. Incumbent: Dana Rohrabacher. Challenger: Debbie Cook
(Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+6. % Dem. turnout: 47.2. This is amazing. Debbie Cook outraised Dana Rohrabacher in the first quarter of 2008. Cook didn't even enter the race until mid-January, and yet she won the fundraising battle. Either Rohrabacher isn't paying attention or people are tired of his act. And the cash-poor NRCC isn't going to be able to pull these candidates out of the fire anymore. Debbie Cook is opening her first campaign office in Huntington Beach this coming weekend, and she's going to run a strong race about energy, global warming and the environment. We'll see if Rohrabacher can keep up. It was notable that Rohrabacher attacked the cost of the war in Iraq
during the Petraeus/Crocker hearings. He knows he's vulnerable.
7. CA-42. Last month: 8. Incumbent: Gary Miller. Challengers: Ron Shepston
(Responsible Plan Endorser), Ed Chau
, Michael Williamson. PVI #: R+10. % Dem. turnout: 44.0. Disclosure: I do some netroots work for Ron Shepston. Another amazing number - Ed Chau outraised Gary Miller in Q1. The numbers are paltry - $39,000 to $36,000 - but it suggests that Miller doesn't care, isn't paying attention, or can't find anyone to give his corrupt ass a buck. Add all the Democratic challengers up together and Democrats outraised Republicans significantly out here. And the primary should be interesting. Ed Chau got labor endorsements but most of his work has been fairly under-the-radar. Ron Shepston's grassroots efforts may be able to pull the primary out, and he is starting to raise money. Shepston has Ambassador Joe Wilson coming out for a fundraiser next month. Michael Williamson has been quiet other than this attack Web ad
hitting Ed Chau for not living in the district. Gary Miller actually backed Barney Frank's housing bill
, which suggests that the mortgage mess is a REAL problem in the district. Jonathan Weil at Bloomberg attacked Miller
for trying to hide the extent of the mess from the public.
8. CA-52. Last month: 7. Open seat. Repub. challengers: several, including Duncan D. Hunter. Dem. challengers: Mike Lumpkin
, Vicki Butcher
. PVI #: R+9. % Dem. turnout: 47.2. Mike Lumpkin has Max Cleland coming in for a fundraiser with him this week, and he raised a decent amount of money last quarter. Here's an overview of the race
; Lumpkin apparently endorsed removing "half the troops" from Iraq, which seems to me to be a silly idea, but his background as a Navy SEAL and liaison between Congress and the Special Ops Command gives him at least some facility with the region. This is a tough seat, especially going against what amounts to a legacy candidate. And Hunter has a lot more money. Vicki Butcher is a grassroots-oriented candidate who will get her share of votes in the primary. There was actually a candidate forum in this race yesterday
. Any reports out there?
9. CA-24. Last month: 9. Incumbent: Elton Gallegly. Challengers: Jill Martinez
, Mary Pallant
(Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+5. % Dem. turnout: 50.6. Marta Jorgensen has quit the race
and backed Jill Martinez. Unfortunately, the primary fight here has turned a little nasty, with Jill Martinez stretching the truth about Mary Pallant's positions and her own finances. Neither candidate raised a lot of money last quarter but Martinez claimed she had, despite her bank account being in the red. Pallant is working the progressive grassroots to win the nomination, winning the endorsements of Democrats.com's David Swanson and author Norman Solomon. I'd love to see a true progressive take on Elton Gallegly. He wants to drill in ANWR
. He's not that bright.
10. CA-41. Last month: 11. Incumbent: Jerry Lewis. Challengers: Tim Prince
, Dr. Rita Ramirez-Dean
. PVI #: R+9. % Dem. turnout: 46.3. Jerry Lewis has become the point man on forcing retroactive immunity for the telecom companies back into the House for a vote. In his speech he assailed trial lawyers for wanting to sue the phone companies, which is funny because at a million dollars his legal defense fund has put several trial lawyers' kids through college. Of bigger note here is that Republicans in San Bernardino County now number under 40% and Democrats are within 8,000 voters of retaining the majority. The district is changing, and we'll see if Tim Prince or Rita Ramirez-Dean can capitalize. I do like Rita's website and use of Web video.
11. CA-44. Last month: 10. Incumbent: Ken Calvert
. Challenger: Bill Hedrick (Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+6. % Dem. turnout: 49.3. Bill Hedrick endorsed the Repsonsible Plan this month, which certainly helps raise his profile a bit. He's holding fundraisers and trying to make voters aware of his presence headed into the general election. Ken Calvert is gearing up for re-election by requesting all kinds of porkbarrel projects
12. CA-25. Last month: 12. Incumbent: Buck McKeon. Challenger: Jacquese Conaway
. PVI #: R+7. % Dem. turnout: 50.9%. I threw this in because this is yet another seat where Democratic turnout outpaced Republican turnout in February. This seat also includes a portion of San Bernardino County (see CA-41). McKeon has a substantial money advantage. He, by the way, "wants the victory"
in Iraq. That must be nice, thinking about foreign policy like it's an NBA playoff game.
13. CA-48. Last month: 13. Incumbent: John Campbell. Challenger: Steve Young
. PVI #: R+8. % Dem. turnout: 45.1. I'll keep including this race because I really like Steve Young.
Labels: CA-03, CA-04, CA-11, CA-24, CA-25, CA-26, CA-41, CA-42, CA-44, CA-45, CA-46, CA-48, CA-50, CA-52, California, Congress