2010 Congressional Races Roundup - June 30, 2009
We're setting a course for the center of the sun in the state budget process right now, but today is also the last day of the second quarter, an important day for Congressional candidates, who must file fundraising reports based on close of business today. So this is as good a time as any to take a look at the Congressional races and where we stand at this point. I have not yet done similar roundups for 2010 statewide offices or legislative races, but plan to do so in the near future. If you find any of these challenges attractive, I urge you to pass a few bucks along to the candidate of your choice. This quarter will help or hurt the candidacies in terms of their perception of viability.
A word on the notations. PVI refers to the Cook Political Report's Partisan Voting Index. I've also included the Presidential performance from last year and the particular Congressional performance, where applicable. That information is available for the whole nation at this link. Open Congress also has a good Wiki on all the seats involved.
CA-Sen. Incumbent: Barbara Boxer. Challengers: Chuck DeVore, Carly Fiorina. Barbara Boxer, who's having a virtual fundraiser tonight with Carl Pope of the Sierra Club in San Francisco, has actually not been seriously threatened in any of her re-election efforts, a fact that escapes those who assume her liberal bona fides somehow make her perpetually vulnerable. Boxer has raised the possibility of disgraced HP CEO Carly Fiorina running, and using her ample personal fortune to amass a campaign war chest. If that happens at all, look for Fiorina to announce in the next few weeks, after the end of the Q2 fundraising cycle. And even if she does run, I don't think it's at all certain that she wins the primary and gets to the general election. Her spotty voting record provides fodder for opponents, as does her terrible record at HP. And Chuck DeVore, while certifiable, has the ear of the conservative Yacht Party base in California and can be expected to do well against any primary foe. I would not be at all surprised to see DeVore oppose Boxer. RedState claims that Cornyn has gone to begging Steve Poizner to drop out of the Governor's race and join the Senate race, which if true further shows the lack of faith in Fiorina's abilities among Republicans. Either way, I don't think Boxer is in much trouble.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
1. CA-10. Challengers: John Garamendi, Mark DeSaulnier, Joan Buchanan, Anthony Woods, Adriel Hampton. PVI: D+10. The timing of the special election should be announced in a matter of days, but all the candidates are already running, holding forums and raising money. Garamendi's endorsement from the SEIU State Council continues the pattern of DeSaulnier locking up the local labor vote, while Garamendi gets the national organizations. The question is who will offer boots on the ground. Meanwhile, Anthony Woods has caught the attention of progressive and LGBT bloggers due to his personal biography, as well as national news, which can only help add to his profile. Then there's Joan Buchanan, the only major female candidate in the race, who could benefit from that. We're just at the beginning of this quick sprint, but it should get very interesting.
1. CA-11. Incumbent: Jerry McNerney. PVI: R+1. 2008 General: Obama 54-44. 2008 Congress: McNerney 55-45. I'm almost ready to give this to McNerney outright. He's fallen off of NRCC target lists in their radio and Web ad campaigns. He received the support of local Republicans in San Joaquin County. He's amassed a pretty decent war chest. And Warren Rupf, the sheriff of Contra Costa County who may have given something of a challenge to McNerney, announced that he would not run. Right now, the leading candidates include a vintner and two other folks with no political experience. McNerney didn't have any political experience before winning, either, but these just don't sound like serious challengers. McNerney is well-positioned, and one assumes that after 2010 his district will be gerrymandered to help him solidify this seat.
2. CA-36. Incumbent: Jane Harman. PVI: D+12. Primary Challenger: Marcy Winograd. 2008 General: Obama 64-34. 2008 Congress: Harman 69-31. Marcy Winograd is starting early and running a real campaign, with visibility in the district. She has run print ads in local publications, and has already put up TV ads touting her stance on single-payer health care, which are running during Olbermann and Maddow in the LA area. So there's no question she is offering a real progressive alternative in this district. Harman's AIPAC/warrantless wiretapping scandal has waned, and she has stayed on the right side of activists with her energy and health care stances. So there's a ways to go to see if Winograd can reach a critical mass in the district.
1. CA-44. Incumbent: Ken Calvert. Challenger: Bill Hedrick. PVI: R+6. 2008 General: Obama 49.5-48.6. 2008 Congress: Calvert 51-49. Bill Hedrick remains the best opportunity for flipping a seat in California this year. He came within a few percentage points last time around, and the national Democratic Party - as well as the pundit class - has taken notice. Hedrick is doing fundraisers and writing articles to raise awareness, while Calvert's signature accomplishment in this Congress is getting the Ronald Reagan statue in the Capitol Rotunda. I do wish Hedrick would denounce this shameful ad put out by the D-Trip, trying to hit Calvert on hypocrisy for not "supporting the troops" with his vote against Afghanistan and Iraq funding. I'm fairly certain, from talking to Hedrick, that he would have opposed that bill as well. And we should never equate funding "the troops" with funding a war. I think it's disgraceful.
2. CA-03. Incumbent: Dan Lungren. Challengers: Gary Davis, Amerish Bera, Bill Slaton. PVI: R+6. 2008 General: Obama 49.3-48.8. 2008 Congress: Lungren 49-44. This is the other race listed by Stu Rothenberg as "Leans Republican," one of only three Republican-held seats to be so honored. Clearly, national Democrats are excited about this race. As The Hill notes, the Democratic challengers run the gamut of major issue areas:
The three candidates cover some of the country’s most pressing issues — healthcare, education and energy.
Physician Ami Bera, who has shaped healthcare policy, filed for the race in April. Former Elk Grove Mayor and current City Councilman Gary Davis, who also works for an education nonprofit, announced in May that he would run. And last week, utility company executive Bill Slaton announced he is also getting in the race.
The biggest foe Dan Lungren has, however, is demographics. The district just gets more and more blue with each passing day. I don't know if Davis, Bera or Slaton will necessarily be the right candidate to capitalize on it, but if Lungren keeps spending tax dollars to erect religious slogans in the Capitol Visitors Center instead of paying attention to the race, he could get stung. Lungren is also being targeted by that B.S. DCCC ad about "supporting the troops."
3. CA-45. Incumbent: Mary Bono Mack. Challenger: Steve Pougnet. PVI: R+3. 2008 General: Obama 51-47. 2008 Congress: Bono Mack 58-42. Back in May, Democrats added Mary Bono Mack to their target lists, perhaps because of the entry of Steve Pougnet, the Mayor of Palm Springs, into the race. This past week, Bono Mack showed that she may be feeling the pressure by voting for the American Clean Energy and Security (ACES) Act, also known as the Waxman-Markey bill. Teabaggers and conservatives are targeting the 8 Republicans who voted with the Democratic majority on that bill, including Bono Mack, which could give her a rough primary. That can only benefit Pougnet, who should have national support from LGBT groups as well. Bono Mack will be a tough out - she's won many a race in that district - but the ACES vote reflects how difficult it may be for her to thread the needle.
4. CA-50. Incumbent: Brian Bilbray. PVI: R+3. Challengers: Tracy Emblem, Francine Busby. 2008 General: Obama 51-47. 2008 Congress: Bilbray 50-45. Brian Bilbray is one of three California Republicans (Dan Lungren and Ken Calvert are the others) on the NRCC's list of vulnerable incumbents. So clearly this district is getting some attention. After this past weekend's puzzling raid of a Francine Busby fundraiser, it should get some more. Today, the house party host spoke out about the tactics of the police. There's no reason to tie Bilbray to this episode, but clearly this could spark some determination among local Democrats and get Busby's name distributed nationwide. Meanwhile, there's another candidate in the primary, Tracy Emblem, who is committed to self-funding and spending up to $500,000 to win the primary. Emblem recently touted her support for HR 676 and will appear at a Health Care Reform Community Forum in San Diego with John Conyers on July 11 (despite positioning herself as a moderate). Solana Beach City Councilman Dave Roberts, a conservaDem who supported Bilbray in the past, also might jump in next month.
5. CA-48. Incumbent: John Campbell. Challenger: Beth Krom. PVI: R+8. 2008 General: Obama 49.3-48.6. 2008 Congress: Campbell 56-41. This always looked to be the sleeper race of 2010, with Campbell spinning off into crazytown (he just co-sponsored the birther bill) while the district moderates in tone. And Irvine City Councilwoman Beth Krom looked to be a great, energetic challenger. Unfortunately, tragedy struck the Krom family when Beth's son Noah died after falling from a cliff earlier this month. Krom has vowed to stay in the race, but obviously this is a blow. We at Calitics wish her all the best.
6. CA-26. Incumbent: David Dreier. Challenger: Russ Warner. PVI: R+3. 2008 General: Obama 51-47. 2008 Congress: Dreier 53-40. Not a whole lot going on in this race right now; we'll see how the fundraising numbers shake out. Russ Warner was so behind in money due to David Dreier's giant war chest in 2008 that he had a hard time competing. He drained enough of that war chest to make a better go at it this time around. But Dreier is a 30-year institution in the district and is unlikely to go quietly. The DCCC is paying attention to this seat, as they are all seats held by Republicans where Barack Obama won, but at some point that will narrow.
7. CA-24. Incumbent: Elton Gallegly. Challengers: several. PVI: R+4. 2008 General: Obama 51-48. 2008 Congress: Gallegly 58-42. The big news out of this race is that the DCCC is actively recruiting Jim Dantona to run for this seat. Before this time, all the usual suspects - 2008 candidate Marta Jorgensen, 2006 candidate Jill Martinez, Mary Pallant, Tim Allison - were in the running, and it was unclear who could break out of the pack. Dantona has an interesting resume. He worked for longtime legislative Dem David Roberti, and lost a county supervisor race in rock-ribbed conservative Simi Valley by only a handful of votes. He has a big personality and could fare well if properly funded. He does tend toward the middle of the road ideologically. This could be a push to get Gallegly to retire, which he's wanted to do for years.
8. CA-46. Incumbent: Dana Rohrabacher. PVI: R+6. 2008 General: McCain 50-48. 2008 Congress: Rohrabacher 53-43. Rohrabacher has decided to take a high profile among those neocons calling President Obama weak for his lack of belligerent statements on the situation in Iran, at one point calling Obama a "cream puff." Rohrabacher's district remains on national Democratic target lists, but thus far nobody has come forward to offer a challenge. We'll see.
9. CA-04. Incumbent: Tom McClintock. PVI: R+10. 2008 General: McCain 54-44. 2008 Congress: McClintock 50.3-49.7. Charlie Brown remains mum about his intentions in this seat, and as long as he does, it remains low on the list of potential pickups. If Brown goes all in for a rematch, it shoots up the list. McClintock remains the anti-government conservative he always was, and in Placer County, that may work, but he is so extreme that a well-chosen candidate like Brown who already has the name recognition could give him the same kind of stiff challenge as in 2008.
10. CA-25. Incumbent: Buck McKeon. PVI: R+6. 2008 General: Obama 49-48. 2008 Congress: McKeon 58-42. No news yet on a challenger for this district, which Obama took in 2008. When one emerges, we can assess the chances in this seat.