Wednesday, September 18, 2013

CA-21: Renteria to Challenge Valadao

Based on the 2012 Presidential results, CA-21 is the second most Democratic district currently held by a Republican congressman. This is David Valadao's district. Last year the Democrats went through some very difficult times before settling on Fresno city councilman Blong Xiong as their candidate. Xiong wasn't from the district and his core constituents were fellow Hmong, who also weren't in the district. Xiong managed to finish third in the top two, losing to David Hernandez, a candidate who spent no money. Hernandez bombed.

You'd think that a district that is D+4 Obama 2012 would be easy for Democrats to recruit in. Yet the Democrats once again couldn't find a candidate. Complicating matters was that they had trouble finding a candidate for SD-16, a district that heavily overlapped with CA-21. They eventually found Kern County supervisor Leticia Perez, who represented an area that was outside the district. Perez had a dramatic loss in a district Barack Obama got 63% in 2012. Perez was considered the DCCC's top recruit before her loss. No word on how they feel about her running in a district the President got 55% in.

The DCCC has decided on a candidate and it's not Perez. It's Amanda Renteria. Renteria is originally from Woodlake, California. After high school she went to Stanford, worked for Goldman Sachs, got a Harvard MBA, worked for the city of San Jose before and then moved to Washington to work for Senator Dianne Feinstein and then Senator Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Woodlake isn't in CA-21. It's in the neighboring CA-22. That should send up an alarm bell, considering the Democrats' lack of success with candidates from outside the area. But Renteria hasn't lived in Woodlake in 20 years, when she was an 18 year old high school student. In fact, her Linkedin profile still lists her home as Washington DC.

The Central Valley isn't somewhere you can just drop a candidate in, especially one that hasn't campaigned before. The district has a Democratic lean and that could be enough for her to win. But her candidacy, and the candidacy of beekeeper Michael Eggman in CA-10, lead me to believe Democrats aren't serious about going on offense in a year that figures to have a Republican lean. Henry Perea will be termed out in the assembly in 2016, a Presidential year that should be better for Democrats. I think the Democrats will mount a serious challenge then.

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