Wednesday, February 12, 2014

CA-31: Gary Miller Retires

Congressman Gary Miller (R, CA-31) announced his retirement today. Miller was already regarded as the most vulnerable Republican incumbent and this won't push the district any more towards the GOP. That said, I'm surprised so many people think this makes it a Safe Democratic seat. Yesterday the GOP won a 63% Obama 2012 seat by 9 points. More on that later. The GOP also won a 63% Obama 2012 seat in the Central Valley last year. This was a 58.5% Obama 2012 seat, one that incumbent Senator Barbara Boxer won by only 46%-44% and Republican attorney general candidate Steve Cooley won 46%-39%.

The Democrats' lead candidate is the same guy who couldn't beat Bob Dutton even though he spent about 3 times the money. With the mediocre Democrats running my district rating won't change from the Lean Democratic it is now. To toot my own horn, I called that result. Note: If you click that link, ignore all the ones I got wrong.

Gary Miller had two advantages. He did have the power of incumbency and a big bank account but this is San Bernardino County. There's a deep Republican bench and, obviously, no Democratic one. Assemblyman Curt Hagman has announced he's not running for the seat and will continue running for San Bernardino County Supervisor.

Former State Senator Bill Emmerson would seem unlikely because he resigned from that office two months ago. California Republican Party chairman Jim Brulte would also seem unlikely given his current job.

Bob Dutton would seem a natural if he still wants it, however, and former assemblyman/state senator/BoE member Bill Leonard would also make a good candidate. Before anyone says he's too old remember that freshman congressman Paul Cook in the neighboring CA-8 is 4 years older. San Bernardino County DA Mike Ramos would be another possibility. I don't know the city governments of Rancho Cucamonga and Upland but both are Republican cities. So there may some candidates from there.

The 2012 Top Two Republican finish was no fluke. If it was I couldn't have called it. What it was was a perfect storm. The Republicans got 51.5% of the primary vote. There were only two, neither with an upper hand to get more votes. There were four Democrats. While three of them were "some dude," they represented different constituencies. Thus, we got the result we did. Circumstances are very similar now. So this district is by no means Safe Democratic.

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