California will literally be the Wild West next year. Because the elections should be very wild. There are now 7 open congressional seats and there likely will be more. Most states don't even have 7 seats.
Due to the redistricting some incumbents' districts are too unfavorable to run in. So they're either running elsewhere, retiring, or in limbo. Lynn Woolsey and Bob Filner are retiring. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman are Democrats running against each other, while Ed Royce and Gary Miller are likely Republicans opposing each other. David Dreier, Elton Gallegly, Linda Sanchez, and Dennis Cardoza have been silent about their plans.
California's term limits are also contributing to the melee. Not only are there term limits in the assembly and senate but many city councils and county governments also have term limits. Normally a politician turned out into the street doesn't challenge his or her party's incumbent. That's off the table this year. I'd guess that so many are running because the districts are so different that 1) they aren't stepping out of line challenging their own party's congressman. 2) the congressman doesn't have a lot of home territory and may be weaker.
Another factor may be the Prop. 14 top two. In heavily Democratic districts, there might be enough Democratic votes for two Democrats to finish first and second. If that happens both advance to November. It should be easier for a challenger to beat an incumbent with Republicans up for grabs. Without knowing ideology, Republicans would likely vote against a Democratic inbument.
Listed below are the 53 districts and who is running in each. A candidate in red has either announced he or she is running in that district or has hinted that they are. Those in black are rumored to be interested.
Everyone has assumed that Tom McClintock and Dan Lungren, who both live in the new CA-7, will run in CA-4 and CA-7 respectively. McClintock has announced he will. The Sacramento Bee is reporting Lungren is considering that district also. The 4th is a safe Republican seat, but the 7th is a swing seat. So, the 4th is obviously more attractive. It doesn't do the Republican party any good when two sitting congressmen both run in a safe Republican seat. An assembly Republican could win it. It'll take a good candidate to win CA-7.
Dan Lungren has to ask why he has to take one for the team and run in a district he could lose. If they both insist on running there, they both can't win. Someone goes home with parting gifts. The question is whether Lungren has a better shot of knocking off McClintock in the primary in CA-4 or a Democrat in CA-7. It doesn't help matters much that the line of Democrats running in the 7th is now three deep.
Jerry Lewis has always confounded me, so I shouldn't be surprised he's continued to do so. CA-8 is an open safe Republican district that has much of his old district. It just doesn't have his home in Redlands, which is in CA-31. Lewis insists these won't be the final lines, so he's not making a decision. As if he gets to make that decision. Retirement is a possibility. While Lewis has been diddling, Greg Imus, a former assembly chief of staff and campaign manager has announced.
The Central Valley has a lot of crazy potential. Rep. Jerry McNerney has staked out CA-9, centered in Stockton. This helps him avoid Rep. Stark, as they were both drawn into CA-15. Rep. Jeff Denham would fit in very well in the Modesto centered CA-10, although he has yet to commit. This district has a good Republican lean, but is winnable for a Democrat. The major cities in Rep. Dennis Cardoza's district are in Stockton and Modesto. So either he challenges a member of his own party or tries an uphill climb in a less than hospitable district.
CA-16 was thought to be a good district for him. Carly Fiorina won the district, but Jerry Brown also did. The problem is that fellow Democratic Rep. Jim Costa just said he'll run in the district that has his base of Fresno in it. That's CA-16. There are three other Central Valley districts, CA-21, CA-22, CA-23. The latter two are very Republican and are likely featuring sitting Republican reps Devin Nunes and Kevin McCarthy. CA-21 would be a possibility but it contains none of his current district. Retirement is a possibility. Republican David Valadao has staked out the district. Democrats Dean Florez and Michael Rubio are circling but have yet to say if they are running there.
Finally, Judy Chu and Anna Eshoo have Democratic challengers who are reportedly ready to jump in.
I'll go to the remaining districts in the next post.