Well, the votes are in, the matchups are set, and so I thought it was time for a baseline roundup of where I think the California House races stand as of now. The main pieces of information that are causing me to reset my expectations are the primary results, the April 1-May 15 fundraising numbers and the new registration numbers from the Secretary of State's office. You can track all three yourself:PrimariesFEC disclosures
(you can search by candidate name)Voter registration by Congressional district
That said, let's take a look, starting with the one threatened Democratic seat.(A note: I'm going to start a state legislative roundup as well)DEMOCRATIC SEATS
1. CA-11. Incumbent: Jerry McNerney. Challenger: Dean Andal. Cook number: R+3. % Dem turnout in the Presidential primary: 53.7%. DCCC defended. Good news and bad news out of this race. The good news is that Dean Andal can't seem to raise any money
- just $11,000 in the pre-primary filing period. The bad news is that Andal got about 900 more votes
in his uncontested primary than McNerney did in his. McNerney seemed to have a lot of trouble attracting votes in San Joaquin County, which brought back more votes than any county in the district. While the NRCC and RNC will clearly be gunning for McNerney
, the Barack Obama factor is certainly going to help him, as well has his incumbency status. So it's not time to pull the alarm just yet. But McNerney does have some work to do.REPUBLICAN SEATS
I'm going to do three tiers in setting apart the top seats where we have challenges to Republican incumbents.First Tier
1. CA-04. Last month: 1. Open seat. Dem. challenger: Charlie Brown. Repub. challenger: Tom McClintock. PVI #: R+11. % Dem turnout in Feb. primary: 44.7. DCCC targeted. Well, the battle is set. Tom McClintock, the Alan Keyes of California, came out of his divisive primary triumphant, and now Charlie Brown has an opponent. The Brown campaign released polls showing him leading McClintock in a head-to-head matchup. Steve Weigand isn't yet willing to bet the farm
on a Brown pickup, but he recognizes the Roseville Democrat's strength against the carpetbagging Republican from Thousand Oaks. That Brown was able to get 42,000-plus votes against token competition on Tuesday shows that he has an energized activist base. Peter Hecht has a good primer
on the state of the race. Expect Brown to hammer the message of Patriotism Above Partisanship against his knee-jerk wingnut conservative opponent. Also, McClintock is broke after a costly primary and has a lot of catching up to do financially.
2. CA-26. Last month: 2. Incumbent: David Dreier. Challenger: Russ Warner. PVI #: R+4. % Dem. turnout: 50.2. DCCC targeted. Russ Warner avenged his earlier loss to Cynthia Matthews in 2006 by winning handily on Tuesday, 67%-33%. His turnout was not great, however (just 14,000 votes). David Dreier got 74% of the vote, not great for an incumbent, and turnout was low district-wide. Warner has been stepping up his game with a Web ad
about Dreier's frequent trips abroad and a companion site, Frequent Flyer Dreier
. My gut feel is that this is not an effective line of attack, especially when the easiest one is tying Dreier, a member of the House Republican Leadership, to George Bush and a failed conservative agenda. I think there's enough interest in this seat that such a message will get out there, however. But Warner needs to improve on his June performance. The new registration numbers are moving in Warner's favor, however.Second Tier
3. CA-45. Last month: 4. Incumbent: Mary Bono Mack. Challenger: Julie Bornstein. PVI #: R+3. % Dem. turnout: 51.3. Bornstein easily bested two challengers and won her race on Tuesday with just over 60% of the vote. Adding up the Dem v. GOP vote you get about 22,000 Dems and 33,000 Republicans, which isn't great. But I feel Bornstein has some advantages. Being an affordable housing advocate at a time when foreclosures are at an all-time high gives her authority on an important issue. This article
explaining her support for the Foreclosure Prevention Act is an example. Manuel Perez' win in AD-80, which partially overlaps the district, will be helpful too, especially if they engage in a campaign to register voters in the underperforming eastern regions of Riverside County like the Coachella Valley. There's a lot of room to run here, and it's wide open for Democrats to exploit. The registration numbers show just a 19,000-vote difference between Democrats and Republicans, and a dearth of registered voters relative to other districts. This is an opportunity. Bornstein also had pretty solid fundraising in the pre-primary filing (around $40K in 6 weeks).
4. CA-46. Last month: 6. Incumbent: Dana Rohrabacher. Challenger: Debbie Cook (Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+6. % Dem. turnout: 47.2. There's a great profile
of this race in today's Los Angeles Times.
Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook has survived a few long-shot political battles. But the Debbie-versus-Goliath matchup she's facing this fall is her biggest gamble yet.
The popular Surf City official is the Democratic hope to unseat GOP incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher -- seeking his 11th term -- in an underdog campaign some observers believe may succeed.
Read the whole thing. I need to see Cook's fundraising numbers go up before I become a true believer, and her primary performance on Tuesday didn't set the world on fire. Cook got around 20,000 votes to Rohrabacher's 35,000. But Rohrabacher isn't doing any meaningful fundraising at all, and he continues to stick his foot in his mouth
with asinine comments like yesterday's about torture being just a bunch of "frat boy pranks." Cook's communications team is fabulous and understands the netroots, and they'll be sure to get attention in this cycle (Blue America has already hosted her
). Rohrabacher acknowledges in the LAT article that he'll have to pay attention to this race. He's right.
5. CA-50. Last month: 3. Incumbent: Brian Bilbray. Challenger: Nick Leibham. PVI #: R+5. % Dem. turnout: 50.8. DCCC targeted. Nick Leibham had a good fundraising cycle (about $70K raised in 6 weeks) but a disastrous primary. Cheryl Ede, who was not well-funded, got 43 percent of the vote
, and Leibham was only able to manage 19,000 votes to Brian Bilbray's 46,000. The implication here is that Leibham has a problem with the activist support he's going to need going into November. That spells trouble - especially in a seat that's winnable enough that Bilbray's going to try and blur party lines
in anticipation of a Democratic wave. In such an environment, we need someone willing to offer a real politics of contrast. This biographical ad
is a decent start but Leibham has to get the message out there.
6. CA-03. Last month: 5. Incumbent: Dan Lungren. Challenger: Bill Durston. PVI #: R+7. % Dem turnout: 51.8. The news is all pretty good for Bill Durston. He had a fantastic fundraising cycle
(77,000 in 6 weeks) and a strong showing
in the primary, getting 26,000 votes to Dan Lungren's 34,000. Lungren, last seen in a Speedo
on a lobbyist-paid trip to Hawaii, is absolutely going to have to work this time around. Durston's strategy in his second attempt to win this seat is slightly reminiscent of the effort against Richard Pombo in 2006. He'll need the same kind of support from outside groups to pull it off but it's not impossible; like in CA-11, the registration numbers are all pointing in the Democratic direction, with less than 4 percentage points and only 15,000 votes separating Democrats and Republicans, the closest of any GOP-held seat.Third Tier
7. CA-52. Last month: 8. Open seat. Dem. challenger: Mike Lumpkin. Repub. challenger: Duncan D. Hunter. PVI #: R+9. % Dem. turnout: 47.2. The election night numbers
show this seat to still be firmly Republican, with Duncan D. Hunter getting over twice as many votes in his race as Mike Lumpkin got in his. Lumpkin managed only 58% of the vote, too, so he needs to lock down base support. Lumpkin's fundraising remains OK but Hunter's got a big advantage there. I personally liked Lumpkin's rejection
of those who would treat marriage equality as a divisive wedge issue.
8. CA-44. Last month: 11. Incumbent: Ken Calvert. Challenger: Bill Hedrick (Responsible Plan endorser). PVI #: R+6. % Dem. turnout: 49.3. Bill Hedrick got only 15,000 votes in his uncontested effort on Tuesday, but Ken Calvert got only 25,000 votes in his. This seems like one of those seats where nobody actually knows who the incumbent is. In a Democratic wave election, this is on the outside edge of being competitive.
9. CA-24. Last month: 9. Incumbent: Elton Gallegly. Challenger: Marta Jorgensen. PVI #: R+5. % Dem. turnout: 50.6. This was the shocker primary of the night
. Marta Jorgensen, who had dropped out of the race up until a couple weeks before the primary, ended up besting her two challengers, leaving party leaders in the district baffled. There were hopes that this could be a battleground
in November, but obviously Jorgensen - who had no expectation of winning and was told about her victory by the media - has a lot of work to do. She introduced herself
to the Calitics community today, and her record as someone who worked on the Draft Gore movement is admirable. We'll see how she approaches the next few months.
10. CA-41. Last month: 10. Incumbent: Jerry Lewis. Challenger: Tim Prince. PVI #: R+9. % Dem. turnout: 46.3. Tim Prince received just 32% of the vote
in winning his primary over 3 challengers on Tuesday. With Jerry Lewis apparently in the clear from a legal standpoint, even his role as one of America's most corrupt politicians
may not be enough to take him down.
11. CA-42. Last month: 7. Incumbent: Gary Miller. Challengers: Ed Chau. PVI #: R+10. % Dem. turnout: 44.0. Ed Chau got around 7,000 votes in disposing of two challengers on primary night, while Gary Miller, running unopposed, got 32,000. Chau needs to raise his profile throughout the district, as he lives outside it. There is a small Asian community in the district and that would be a good place to start.
12. CA-48. Last month: 13. Incumbent: John Campbell. Challenger: Steve Young. PVI #: R+8. % Dem. turnout: 45.1. In a district including Irvine, the housing issue is going to be enormous, so if Steve Young wants to have a shot he's going to have to make that the big issue. He got 18,000 votes in his uncontested primary; John Campbell got 40,000 in his. It's an uphill climb.
Labels: Charlie Brown, Congress, Dana Rohrabacher, David Dreier, Dean Andal, Debbie Cook, Jerry McNerney, Julie Bornstein, Mary Bono, Russ Warner, Tom McClintock