Thursday, July 25, 2013

California State Senate 2014 Updated

In January I took an early look at the California State Senate 2014 elections. As then, it appears that there are 26 Safe Democratic and 11 Safe Republican districts. The three important swing districts remain SD-12, 14, and 34. Republican incumbent Anthony Cannella will run for re-election, likely Yosemite Community College District Trustee Tom Hallinan. The district clearly favors a Democrat, although Carly Fiorina did edge Barbara Boxer here in 2010. Cannella's incumbency and Hallinan's political inexperience should even things out. The Central Valley favors the GOP down ballot, especially if they have strong experienced candidates and the Democrats do not.

In January it looked like Democrats would run incumbent Michael Rubio in SD-14. Now, Republican Andy Vidak will be the incumbent and the Democrats will be searching for a challenger. It could be Kern County Supervisor Leticia Perez in a rematch. It's hardly unusual for a candidate to lose a special election and run again in the next general election. Sometimes they do, in fact, win. Perez was considered the #1 DCCC recruit for CA-21 against Republican David Valadao. She may decide on that race.

The other view is that Perez lost a district where Barack Obama got 63% of the two party vote and the luster may be off the rose and both the California Democratic Party and DCCC may decide to go with other candidates. Democrats don't have an especially deep bench in the Central Valley. That's evident in their inability to field a quality opponent against Valadao in 2012 and no candidate committed to challenge him in 2014. Before Democrats convinced Perez to enter the race their best candidate was Fran Florez, who lost by 21% in 2010 in an assembly district Jerry Brown was winning.

Assemblyman Henry T. Perea would be a strong candidate, but he's said he'll run for re-election in his assembly district. He'll be turned out in 2016 and will then, assumably, challenge Valadao in CA-21 then. Another alternative could be first term Democratic assemblyman Rudy Salas, although Salas underperformed Barack Obama in 2012 by roughly 4%.

The other district which could swing is the one where Democrats would appear to be weakest, but also one where there's no Republican incumbent. Assemblyman Jim Silva, Former Assemblyman Van Tran, OC Board of Education member Long Pham, and Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen are all Republicans circling SD-34. Rancho Santiago CCD Trustee Jose Solorio and Garden Grove Planning Commissioner Joe DoVinh are the Democrats. As the 2012 CA-31 race should remind us, having four candidates from one party and two from the other can lead to the party with two candidates both making top two. I'd guess the GOP will do anything they can to discourage two of their candidates from remaining in the race.

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