Bill Emmerson, the Republican state senator representing parts of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, has abruptly resigned effective December 1. This is a shocker as there's no health or scandal issues going on.
Emmerson was re-elected last year, 56%-44%, and his term runs through 2016. President Obama got 47% of the two party vote. Dianne Feinstein got 48%. It's the sort of district that, if California moves more to the left, that Democrats might contend in for the 2016 election or possibly 2020. Not only hasn't the district moved leftward enough for a Democrat to win it now, but Democrats historically underperform in any non-November election in California. So it's a district that'll be safe in any special.
There are three Republican assemblymen with districts that are in SD-23, Tim Donnelly, Brian Nestande, and Mike Morrell. The state senate would be a natural move up. The problem there is that Donnelly is running for governor and Nestande for congress. Donnelly is a long long shot for governor and Nestande figures to be in a tight battle for the CA-36 seat. While it's possible either could drop down I don't see it as likely. Donnelly is running for governor to have a big platform for his stances and Nestande's congressional opportunity is going to be better this year than it will be in 2016.
That leaves Morrell. On the surface, people will think that Morrell running will be bad for the GOP. His assembly district is D+2, the most Obama assembly district currently held by a Republican. Morrell clearly has the best chance of winning it in 2014. If you look deeper, however, Morrell clearing out of the assembly seat may be a better choice long term. If Morrell were to win re-election in 2014 he'd be termed out of the seat in 2016. So Republicans would have an open seat in a Presidential year. With how the area has been trending, they'd be clear underdogs to retain it.
As I mentioned in my previous post, however, an open seat in 2014 should have a better Republican environment than one in 2016. A special election in the spring would favor the GOP even more. Due to the new term limit rules an assemblyman elected in 2014 can serve 12 years and wouldn't be term limited out.
That is, of course, assuming a Republican wins the seat in the 2014 election. A Republican loss could cost make the GOP fall short of the 27 assemblymen they need to prevent Democrats from raising taxes unilaterally. Of course the Democrats didn't really touch taxes this term and Republicans only had 25 assemblymen. So the short-term downside isn't nearly as bad as people might think.