Friday, January 31, 2014

Handicapping CA-33

Since Henry Waxman announced his retirement two heavy hitting Democrats, former city controller Wendy Greuel and State Sen. Ted Lieu have announced their candidacies. These two are heavy hitters because both are well known experienced candidates who'll raise a lot of money. Lieu's senate district largely overlaps CA-33 and while only about 30% of the district is in the city of Los Angeles, the people in the district know her.

I should mention that self-help author Marianne Williamson and producer Brent Roske are already running. Indications are they'll run as NPP (No Party Preference) although both appear to fall somewhere on the left. Williamson is well known and has sold millions of books. She may put her own money into the race. Roske is unknown and has indicated he won't spend any money in his campaign. Williamson may impact the race. Roske is unlikely to get many votes.

A lot of other names are swirling about. I think Secretary of State Debra Bowen and former Assemblywoman Betsey Butler are the two biggest possibilities. Butler, however, may try for Lieu's senate district, which will be vacant now that he isn't running for re-election. Freshman Assemblyman Richard Bloom has been mentioned but I think he'd be overwhelmed in this field and is a good bet to keep his current district.

State Senator Fran Pavley has been mentioned, although some dismiss her because her election would mean a special election in her swingy state senate district. I don't know Pavley but I don't think that'd discourage her. Because she isn't up for election now, she'd only have to give up her state senate district if she wins.She's termed out in two years, so she has to be looking at what she'll be doing next. Waxman served 40 years. If she wants to go to congress, this may be her only chance for a while. While it is true that her election would result in her vacating a swing senate district, that district will be vacant in 2016 either way. At worst she costs her party two years in the district.

The most talked about name may be someone who has never been a candidate, has no real connection to the district, and no fundraising base. I'm speaking, of course, about Sandra Fluke. I'm not going to waste my time describing Fluke. I think that's been done enough. It's tough not to be dismissive of Fluke. She'd be going up against popular local candidates with deep bank accounts. Yes, she could run on the "War on Women" but is that really an effective line of attack against Wendy Greuel?

I know some people think this district is moon bat left very progressive but it isn't. It certainly contains Santa Monica and the Westside, which are very left wing, but the district overall isn't far left. In fact, we need look no further than the 2012 AD-50 race. That district contains the most progressive part of this district. Progressive incumbent Betsy Butler against more standard Democrat Richard Bloom. Butler got 49.5%. So the moon bat progressive couldn't win a one-on-one battle in the progressive part of the district. And the rest of the district isn't hospitable to a progressive. In fact, Henry Waxman lost the rest of the district by 8,000 votes.

Fluke's only shot is if enough mainstream Democrats enter the race that they split the vote enough that she can make top two with 12-14%, which is probably her ceiling. I think she'd get half that. We'll have to see how many are in before we can predict that.

NPP candidate Bill Bloomfield is leaning toward running. That's a good news/bad news thing for Fluke. Bloomfield will likely clear the Republican field, because any Republican who might run isn't going to be a big fundraiser. They'll likely be intimidated by Bloomfield's money and his defeat of the Republican in the 2012 primary.

That's good news for Fluke because a big Republican field could result in two Democrats being top two. She'd lose such a race to someone who can attract Republican and moderate votes. It's bad news for Fluke if she makes top two because Bloomfield could beat her. He got 46% against the heavy spending well known well trusted incumbent. While Republicans may see Waxman as far left, mainstream Democrats liked him. It isn't hard to see some mainstream Democratic defection from Fluke. If her opponent were Mike Gin or Kit Bobko, then she wins the race even with a bad campaign.

While I think Bloomfield could beat Fluke, he might also be a threat against any Democrat. He got 46% in 2012, a Democratic year with a Presidential electorate. He'd likely do better with a mid-term electorate in a more Republican year. He'd still have to replicate his 2012 accomplishment of winning over Obama-Feinstein voters, but it's not like he's forgotten how to do that.

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