Thursday, March 27, 2014

California Gubernatorial Poll Out

PPIC is out with a new gubernatorial primary poll and it has governor getting 47% of the vote, with his closest rival, Republican Tim Donnelly, getting 10%. The undecideds are overwhelmingly Republican and independent. California has a polarized electorate. Republicans and right leaning voters vote Republican. That's why the best a Democrat has gotten since 1986 in two party vote is 62.5%. Democrats have gotten much higher percentages in states that are far less blue.

If you look deeper, Brown is getting 15% of the Republican vote, which is entirely conceivable given his image of reasonableness. But that's probably his upper limit with Republicans. I know no one knows the other candidates, but it'd be odd for the Republicans to get all the remaining Republican vote. Undecideds for a party don't usually break entirely for that party.

The electorate they used 44%D/29%R/28%O is conceivable for the general election but far less Republican than the primary electorate will be. Of course, when the Republicans are only beating Brown 29%-15% with Republicans you're not going to change the results much even with a more Republican electorate. I'm now thinking that Brown (and the other Democrat) beat the Republicans 53%-41% in June. Donnelly seems very likely to finish second, mostly because I don't know how Kashkari becomes well known enough to beat him.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

California Primary Vote Share By Party

Now that the candidates for California’s June primaries are finalized, we can attempt to predict the results. California’s electorate is heavily partisan. To understand that fully we need to look no further than the 2012 Senate election.

It was a perfect storm for Democrats. They had an immensely popular incumbent with deep pockets running against a field of unknown Republicans with no money. It was a Presidential year, which heavily favors Democrats, and the President was very popular in California. Democrats also got a boost in registration due to the advent of online registration. Feinstein won 62.5%-37.5%. It was the highest percentage a Democrat has gotten in California since 1986. Because all the elements were great for Democrats, that’s likely the ceiling a Democrat can get in a statewide California election. That total sounds okay until you realize that recently the percentage was exceeded by Democrats in swing states like Iowa and Michigan as well as red states like South Dakota and Montana. California may be a blue state, but Republicans loyally vote for Republicans, even if they like the Democrat.

In the June 2010 primary, Democrats running for statewide office got 51-52% across the board. Feinstein’s senate election in 2012 was the only statewide race that year, so it’s the only one we can use to compare to those races. Feinstein and five other Democrats beat the Republican vote share 56.6%-39.4%. While Feinstein likely garnered some Republican votes in the primary, the Democrats still fell about 6% below what she got in the general election. That’s simply because Democrats show up at a much lower rate than Republicans do in California primaries.

California congressional primary elections had some districts that were similar to Feinstein’s election, a popular incumbent who spent money running against an unknown or series of unknowns who didn’t.


What we see here is that Democratic incumbents matched or exceeded Feinstein in 7 of the 14 races, although the one where they exceeded Feinstein by the most was one where there were two incumbent Democrats spending a lot of money to heavily court Republicans. Despite the Republicans being some dude, there were six races where the Democratic margin of victory was 3.4% or more lower than Feinstein.

The next group are the districts are the Republican districts, most of which had an incumbent running. These districts had heavy spending Republicans and non-spending Democrats. Not surprisingly, the Democrats lost by a lot more than Feinstein did.


The districts that are important to look at are 14 districts that were possibly going to be competitive. Feinstein got between 46.9% and 59.8% of the vote in them. These districts were mostly competitive in November and Democratic congressional candidates won 11 of them.


Democratic margins fell short of Feinstein’s margin in all 14 districts. Unsurprisingly, the district where the Democrats came closest to matching Feinstein’s margin is the one where Republicans had a major recruiting fail, CA-16. Some of the others are a bit surprising. The next closest the Democrats came was CA-31, a district that was either open or had a Republican incumbent, depending on how you classify Gary Miller. He was a sitting congressman but had represented none of the district previously.

Should we expect Democrats to do better, worse, or about the same in 2014?

So while Feinstein’s totals are likely a ceiling for Democrats we shouldn’t expect Democratic congressional candidates to match that total in competitive districts in 2014. They couldn’t in 2012, even in districts where Democrats had much higher name recognition and spent more money. The 2014 primary electorate figures to be more favorable for the GOP than 2012. Republicans look stronger this year, according to polling, and mid-terms skew more Republican than Presidential year.

The Democrats could get a boost from the new online registration voters that didn’t vote in the 2012 primary but voted in the general election. This is subjective, but I don’t expect them to vote heavily in this election, because they never showed any interest in voting in a primary election before.

I’d expect the Feinstein numbers to be a ceiling in the districts, although I think it’s more likely that the less favorable 2014 electorate means that the 2012 vote share is the ceiling.

The exceptions might be Democrats in CA-7, 26, 36, 41, 47, and 52. These congressmen were challengers in 2012, but now may benefit from being incumbents. Of course, the 2012 Democratic incumbents weren’t all the best performing compared to Feinstein. While Costa, Garamendi, and Waxman were the closest to her, Capps and McNerney underperformed her totals more than Democrats in open seat races and some who were challenging incumbents.

One of the districts that should generate the most interest is CA-31. Of all the competitive districts, Democrats did second closest to Feinstein here. This happened even though there were two well known Republican running. Since it was so close to Feinstein I wouldn’t expect the Democratic vote share to be higher in 2014 and it’s possible that they could underperform her total closer to the 12% worse mean. Statistical pull suggests the district shouldn’t fall on the high side two elections in a row.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

California State Senate Primary Filing Analysis

When the number one question about the California state senate isn’t whether Democrats will keep their majority in the chamber but whether they’ll keep their supermajority, then the Democrats have already won. Currently, Democrats hold a 28-12 edge in the state senate. That includes two Democrats who are currently on leaves of absence and a Republican held seat that’s vacant. Mike Morrell, a Republican assemblyman, is expected to win that seat in a special election. The question is whether he’ll top 50% in the March 25 primary or have to wait for a June run-off. If Morrell wins, as expected, Democrats will hold a 15-5 edge among seats not up in 2014.

That leaves them with a 13-7 edge in seats that are up. Of those seats, 11 of the Democratic districts are safe and 5 of the Republican districts are safe. Due to redistricting, Riverside county was given an additional district while San Francisco lost one. This district, SD-28, gets its first election this year. There are three viable Republican candidates, city councilman Glenn Miller, Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone, and former assemblywoman Bonnie Garcia. Neither of the two Democrats has submitted a campaign finance report. The biggest question here isn’t whether a Republican will win the district, one will, but whether Republicans will occupy both of the top two slots. The GOP should get about 65% of the primary vote, which is what they got in similar Southern California districts in 2012.

Republicans winning SD-28 would give Democrats a 26-11 edge in state senators, two short of their current number and one short of a supermajority. Two Central Valley Republicans, Anthony Cannella and Andy Vidak, are up for re-election. Barack Obama won these districts by 17% and 19% and Jerry Brown won by 7% and 11%.

Cannella’s new district, SD-12, is similar to his old one. He won that district by 3% but this time he’s an incumbent, has nearly $1 million C-O-H, and his Democratic opponent dropped out in early March. He was replaced by Salinas businessman Shawn Bagley. Salinas is very Democratic coastal California city with not a lot in common with this Central Valley district. Since there are only two candidates both will advance.

Democratic prospects are slightly better in the Central Valley district to the south, SD-14. Andy Vidak was elected in a July 2013 special election in a district where Barack Obama won by 25%. So this district should be more favorable to him. He doesn’t have nearly have the C-O-H Canella does and his opponent, Fresno unified trustee Luis Chavez, has been running longer and actually is from the district. Chavez hasn’t submitted a campaign finance report yet, indicating he hasn’t had much in the way of donations. The good news for Chavez is that the state party just put $200,000 in his campaign account, while unions and two state senators put in another $26,600. Since there are only two candidates both will advance.

If both Cannella and Vidak win, the Democratic supermajority will hinge on term limited Democrat Lou Correa’s state senate seat. Democrats have one candidate in SD-34, college trustee Jose Solorio. Republicans are strongly backing Orange County supervisor Janet Nguyen, although a second Republican, businessman Long Pham, is in the mix. This district is more Republican than Correa’s current one. Jerry Brown won that district by 11%. Meg Whitman won this one by 5%. That could spell trouble for Democrats in November but Solorio and a Republican will advance to that election.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

CA-31 Primary Filing Analysis

The biggest fail for Democrats in 2012 and the biggest example of how top two would change elections was the CA-31 election. The district leans Democratic, Barack Obama won comfortably, but two Republicans finished top two. This happened for several reasons, which may repeat in 2014.

Democrats don’t show up in primaries
In California, there are a lot more Democrats who only vote in November elections than Republicans. Democrats want to think they can wish this away or if they work harder on GOTV, they’ll get their voters to the polls. Yet, the results of the SD-16 and San Diego mayoral election, both of which they worked very hard on GOTV, suggest otherwise. I’m not saying they shouldn’t work on GOTV, they should, but the best thing for Democrats to do is realize June is weak for them and figure out a way to minimize the weakness.

In 2012, the electorate voted 51.5% Republican 48.5% Democratic in the CA-31 primary. Is there any reason to think it’ll be different in 2014? The electorate could be different. The good news for Democrats is that while the general election turn-out has been lower in mid-term years, the primary electorate has been slightly higher the last two cycles. I don’t know if that means the electorate will be more Democratic than 2012, but it shouldn’t be less Democratic.

Democrats saw a surge in registration in October 2012 due to online registration. While that hasn’t held up in subsequent registration reports, those people are still registered. And they did vote at a good rate in November 2012. The downside there is that these people never thought it was a good idea to register and vote in any previous primary. Why start now in a non-Presidential year when the biggest offices to have Democratic competition are controller and secretary of state, two offices they might have never hear of.

As I mentioned above, while non-November elections don’t favor Democrats, this cycle has been particularly bad for them. They already aren’t showing up. The forecasters are thinking the electorate in November is going to favor the Republicans and that may be part of it.

Without further data, I’m going to assume the voters in June will go 51.5% Republican 48.5% Democratic. There are two Republicans in the field, Lesli Gooch and Paul Chabot. Both are largely unknown but they appear to be running serious campaigns. They have quality websites. Chabot has run for office before and Gooch has indicated she raised $100,000 before she officially declared. The big question is how they’ll split the Republican vote. In some cases, two Republicans with similar backgrounds and similar spending finished close to each other. In others, one dominated. In most of those circumstances, however, one candidate had the state party’s endorsement, something that can garner a lot of votes in a mailer. Neither of these candidates has that. Without anything yet to suggest there’s anything distinguishable between the candidates, I’m going to assume they’ll finish close, near 25% each.

There are four Democrats in the field, Redlands mayor Pete Aguilar, San Bernardino City Unified School District member Danny Tillman, attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, and former congressman Joe Baca. Aguilar ran in 2012 and only 22.6% of the vote. He could do better. He has the state party endorsement, although he had that in 2012. He’s raised more money than 2012 and he does have the experience of a losing campaign. He likely knows what he did wrong.

Gomez Reyes has raised a little less than Aguilar, far more than his main 2012 rival Justin Kim. She’s been running for a long period of time and she has the endorsement of EMILY’S List. Kim had no national organizations backing him. She seems a more formidable challenger, perhaps one who could beat Aguilar.

Danny Tillman is a well known and well respected San Bernardino City school board member. He’s served on it for nearly 20 years. San Bernardino is much larger than Redlands, where Aguilar is mayor. Tillman is also African-Americans in a city where African-Americans make up 15% of the population and a larger percentage of Democratic voters. In 2012 the African-American candidate, Renea Wickman, got 6.7% of the vote despite spending very little money. She has endorsed Tillman, as have a number of other people in San Bernardino. I don’t recognize any names, but then Tillman doesn’t need elected officials pushing him for him to garner a similar percentage to Wickman.

The final candidate is former congressman Joe Baca. Baca has been criticized for running a non-serious campaign. He hasn’t raised a lot of money. Of course, Baca’s big asset is his well known name and that he represented part of this district in congress for 14 years. He led Aguilar in his own poll. While an internal poll from a candidate should be discounted Baca could do well here on name ID alone. Steve Kuykendall ran a poor primary campaign in 2012 in CA-47. He still got 10.7% of the vote, probably because he was a former congressman with name ID. While finishing top two seems a stretch for Baca, he should exceed Rita Ramirez-Dean’s 5.7% in the 2012 primary.

Some people viewed the 2012 primary results as a fluke, but they really shouldn’t have been so surprising. With four Democrats, none of whom was an incumbent, and two evenly matched Republicans, the vote fell out the way I expected. There are a lot of moving parts, so who’ll finish top two is difficult to predict. What I can say is that the conditions that led to two Republicans finishing top two appear to be repeating themselves and if anything they are even more suited for that.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

California Congressional Primary Filing Analysis

This provides the field for notable congressional districts. For the most part I’m not going to try to handicap the primary, let alone the general, but more give a general idea how the field will be impacted by top two.

CA-1
I don’t have a confirmed candidate list, but congressman Doug LaMalfa may be challenged by two Republicans and two Democrats. This shouldn’t be a big deal for LaMalfa. One of the Republicans ran against him last time and he beat him 38%-3%. Expect LaMalfa to face a Democrat in November.

CA-3
Incumbent John Garamendi and assemblyman Dan Logue are the only Democrat and Republican. There may be an NPP but he won’t finish top two.

CA-4
The most vulnerable Republican incumbent in November might not be Jeff Denham or David Valadao. It could be Tom McClintock. McClintock got only one opponent, former U.S. Army officer Art Moore. And Moore filed as a Republican. His challenge to McClintock has a lot of conservatives upset and it’s easy to see why. McClintock is regarded as one of the most conservative, if not the most conservative, Republican congressman in California.

Democrats would love to take him out. And the Democrat who ran against McClintock in 2012 got 39% of the vote. One needs to go back to Eric Swalwell’s challenge of liberal Democrat Pete Stark in 2012. Swalwell positioned himself as a liberal, but one that Republicans wouldn’t mind the way they hated Stark. He beat Stark by 4 points. That district was 23% Republican. This one is 29% Democratic. If Moore runs a smart campaign and spends some money, he can do a Swalwell.

CA-7
One of three Republicans (Birman, Emken, Ose) will face Ami Bera in November.

CA-8
Paul Cook is being challenged by two Republicans and two Democrats. Last time there were ten Republicans and two Democrats and two Republicans made top two. Cook will get one slot with a lot more than the 15.3% he got in 2012. It’s too early to say whether a Republican or Democrat will get the other.

While McClintock may have a formidable challenge, it's too early to say if Cook will. First, he may go up against a Democrat. Second, he did face another Republican in top two in 2012 and won. Unlike McClintock, who Democrats may want to beat, Cook was regarded as the more moderate Republican.

CA-9
Three Republicans filed against Jerry McNerney. None have raised any money, but one will make it to November.

CA-10
Jeff Denham will face one of the two Democrats to file against him.

CA-11
Democratic State Senator Mark DeSaulnier has been all but anointed by the Democrats though out the state. Yet my research shows three other Democrats, a couple of Republicans, and an NPP running against him. None should challenge him making top two. His opponent will likely be a Republican, but with two running it's possible they'll split the vote and a Democrat will slip in.

CA-15
Eric Swalwell has a Republican in his race against State Senator Ellen Corbett. That’s good news for him, as the Republican will get 30-35% of the vote and make top two. Corbett should be easy for him to beat among Democrats, especially considering his incumbency and his cash on hand advantage.

CA-16
Jim Costa is being challenged by three some dude Republicans and a candidate who may have filed as a Democrat or NPP. One of the some dudes will face Costa.

CA-17
If Ro Khanna arranged the late arrivals to this race it couldn’t have gone better for him. While Republican Vanila Singh should get most of the GOP vote, another Republican and an Indian-American NPP could siphon off enough votes to get Khanna into top two against Mike Honda.

CA-21
Either carpetbagging Amanda Renteria or debt ridden John Hernandez will be the Democrat to face Republican congressman David Valadao.

CA-23
Kevin McCarthy may be unopposed. I don’t know since Kern County doesn’t publish candidate filing. If he is, this would be his fourth consecutive election without a Democratic opponent. That’s pathetic.

CA-24
There are five Republicans, two Democrats and an NPP challenging Lois Capps. With all this filing, you’d think she retired. Capps will make top two and it’s likely a Republican will as well. In 2012, there were a number of districts where a some dude Democrat challenged an incumbent Democrat and a Republican also ran. In almost all of them that Democrat got 4-7%. Most of those districts were more Democratic than this, so there were more Democratic votes for them to get. Even Barbara Lee’s Democratic opponent lost 83%-5%. And there are two Democrats here. I’d be surprised if one got 10% of the vote and if no Republican got more than that. Still, it has the potential for a two Democrat top two.

CA-25
On the other hand, CA-25 is well set up for the GOP. Buck McKeon has two Republican challengers and a Democrat running against him in the primary and he took 50% of the vote, the Democrat took 30%, and the other two Republicans took 20%. This time there are former state Tony Strickland, current state senator Steve Knight, two some dude Republicans, a Libertarian, and two Democrats. I’d expect Strickland and Knight to split at least 50% of the vote, but probably closer to 60%. Lee Rogers is the better Democrat but Evan Thomas will suck some of the Democratic vote from him. It could be Strickland and Knight top two, but one of them might face Rogers in November.

CA-26
Two Republicans, Assemblyman Jeff Gorell and Tea Party candidate Rafael Dagnesses, along with an NPP will challenge Democratic incumbent Julia Brownley. It’d be bad for the GOP if Gorell didn’t advance.

CA-30
A Republican will go up against incumbent Democrat Brad Sherman in November.

CA-35
Five Democrats filed. No Republicans did. Should make for an interesting November.

CA-36
Ray Haynes, a former Republican assemblyman, and Brian Nestande, a current Republican one, filed against incumbent Democrat Raul Ruiz. Haynes will try to outflank Nestande on his right. I’m not sure he can win the district if he finishes ahead of Nestande.

CA-41
While Riverside City Councilman Steve Adams is a step down from Riverside county supervisor John Tavaglione for the GOP, you can’t expect much after Tavaglione’s 18 point defeat. There’s another Republican and a Democrat challenging incumbent Mark Takano in the race.

CA-42
Ken Calvert didn’t draw a Republican challenger, as his possible challenger County Supervisor Jeff Stone is running for state senate. He did draw three Democrats.

CA-45
Mimi Walters will likely hold the record for fastest entry into a race after a congressman retires and she should beat Republican challenger Greg Raths in top two. Raths has four times more debt than cash on hand. There’s a Democrat who’ll also make top two and another candidate whose party I can’t identify.

CA-46
Incumbent Democrat Loretta Sanchez drew two Republicans, a Democrat, and an NPP. All some dudes. This district isn't winnable for a Republican any more.

CA-47
Incumbent Democrat Alan Lowenthal drew only one opponent, some dude Republican Andy Whallon. This district looked attractive but at D+10 it's out of reach for the GOP.

CA-48
Incumbent Republican Dana Rohrabacher drew a Republican, two Democrats, and a candidate whose party I can’t identify. None will seriously challenge him, but he will face a Democrat in November.

CA-49
Incumbent Republican Darrell Issa drew two some dude Democrats.

CA-50
Incumbent Republican Duncan Hunter drew one and a Libertarian.

CA-52
Former San Diego mayoral candidate Carl DeMaio’s challenge of incumbent Democrat Scott Peters has gotten a lot of press and DeMaio has raised over $1 million. He’s going to be attacked from his right by Tea Party challenger Kirk Jorgensen and surgeon Fred Simon. Neither Jorgensen nor Simon should be dismissed as some dude. Jorgensen had raised over $200k as of December 31 and Simon put $400k of his own money into the campaign. DeMaio can’t assume he’ll make top two. He will have to work for it.

CA-53 Susan Davis drew four some dude Republicans and two NPPs. That’s a big field for an incumbent who isn’t vulnerable. Maybe they thought that she was retiring.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

CA-33 Primary Filing Analysis

California extends the primary filing by five days in all districts where an incumbent was eligible to run but fails to file. That five day period has passed and filing is closed for all California offices. Unfortunately, the state won't publish an official certified list until March 27. As I mentioned earlier, some counties publish complete information while others don't publish any. I'll take a look at the more competitive races and highlight a few others.

Since CA-33 is so involved, I'll give it, its own diary. I'm pretty good at analyzing top two, but this district is difficult to analyze. There could be 11 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and an odd assortment of Greens, Libertarians, and independents. This probably shouldn't be surprising. This coastal district is home to a lot of upscale politically active people. With Henry Waxman retiring, everyone sees an opportunity.

In 2012, Democrats got 52.2% of the vote to 39.9% for the Republican and right leaning independent. The Green and Libertarian combined for 7.8% of the vote in 2012 and there'll be one of each again. One might expect a similar breakdown to 2012, but NPP author Marianne Williamson adds a new dynamic. While Williamson seems to be running a far left populist campaign, her fame and ballot designation could mean she could take Republican votes. For the most part Democrats didn't take Republican votes in 2012 primaries, but there were a few exceptions. Notable was the Berman-Sherman match-up where both candidates spent a lot of money and sent out mailers to Republicans, while the Republicans spent little.

None of the four Republicans has any name recognition and it's unknown whether any of them will raise money. Chris David didn't in 2012 and ended up missing top two despite being the only Republican on the ballot. Even if the four Republicans get 40% of the vote, there's no guarantee any will get the 15% they might need to finish top two. I use 15%, but it might not be that high. The U.S. Senate race had a similarly large field in 2012 and the second place finisher was just north of 12%. It's still conceivable that Republicans could take both of the top two spots. Or they could take neither. Honestly, I can't tell you which is more likely.

There are 3 Democrats of note here, but we should keep in mind that almost everyone whose name was on the ballot in 2012, regardless of the field size, took at least 0.5%. In a 24 person field for U.S. Senate only two candidates got below that and they got 0.4% and 0.3%. So even if those eight Democrats do nothing to distinguish themselves they should take 4-6% of the vote.

State Senator Ted Lieu got the state party endorsement, but former city controller Wendy Greuel has more endorsements from elected officials. It's possible one could run away with it and top 20%, but I see 20% as pretty much the top Democrat's ceiling. Greuel and Lieu will both likely get between 15% and 20%. The third notable Democrat is former KCRW "Left Right and Center" host Matt Miller. Miller has occupied the center spot on the weekly political roundtable. Considering he has no money, no endorsements, and hasn't held elected office here, his familiarity is all he has in his column.

When she ran for LA mayor, Wendy Greuel sent me a mailer criticizing Eric Garcetti for getting Republican Kevin James' endorsement in the mayoral race. She tied James to a bunch of "extreme" Republicans and did so with Garcetti by association. Then her campaign had a volunteer call me with the message that Bill Clinton endorsed Greuel. When I asked the girl if that was the best way to convince a Republican to vote for Greuel, she hung up on me. I don't know if Wendy Greuel will go after Republican votes in the primary, but if she does that'll be the sort of campaign brilliance to her congressional race she won't win Republican votes.

Ted Lieu has geography going for him. He comes from the South Bay, not the progressive Westside. The South Bay is slightly Republican leaning, but is split fairly evenly. He could consolidate the Democratic vote and attempt to appeal to Republicans who don't want a congressman from the Westside.

Monday, March 10, 2014

California Filing Closes - The Statewide Races

The California filing deadline was Friday. Unfortunately the secretary of state won't list all of the candidates for some time. This means checking out individual county sites. Some of the county sites have complete information and others are more ambiguous. San Francisco, Sacramento, and Kern counties don't appear to list them at all. So it's difficult to determine who has and who hasn't filed.

Governor:
Akinyemi Agbede, Democratic
Charlie Hodge, Democratic
Hanala Sagal, Democratic
Geby E. Espinosa, Democratic
Jerry Brown, Democratic
Kwame Boateng, Democratic
Melissa Balin, Democratic
John-Leslie Brown, Republican
Neel Kashkari, Republican
Tim Donnelly, Republican
Glenn Champ, Republican
S. Deacon Alexander, Green
Luis J. Rodriguez, Green
Cindy L. Sheehan, P And F
Robert Ornelas, AI
Andrew Blount, NPP
Christian Kumar
Janel Hyeshia Buycks, NPP
Joe Leicht, NPP
Robert Newman, NPP

Yes, that's 20 candidates for governor. There may be more in the counties I didn't get. I have no idea how they'll list all of them on one page. While the Democratic slate is filled with unknowns, they'll likely get enough votes to hold Jerry Brown under 40% in the primary. I don't think he'll finish 2nd, although there are less candidates on the Republican side. Even if a Republican catches fire, the ceiling for him would probably be 35%.

Attorney General:
Kamala Harris, Democratic
John Haggerty, Republican
Orly Taitz, NPP
Ronald Gold, NPP
Jonathan Jaech, Lib

It doesn't appear that Kamala Harris has much competition for attorney general, with the most notable opponent being birther Orly Taitz. While Taitz is well known, she certainly hasn't been popular with voters. She finished a distant second in the 2010 Republican Secretary of State primary and managed a whole 3% in the 2012 Senatorial jungle primary. Notably absent is former Republican State Senator Phil Wyman. He doesn't appear to have filed.

Lieutenant Governor:
Gavin Newsom, Democratic
Eric Korevaar, Democratic
Ron Nehring, Republican
George Yang, Republican
David Fennell, Republican
Amos Johnson, P And F
Alan Reynolds, Amer Elect
Zachary Collins, NPP
Jena F. Goodman

No surprises here. The GOP's best candidate former party chairman Ron Nehring will have to compete with other Republicans for top two.

Controller:
Ashley Swearengin, Republican
John A. PĂ©rez, Democratic
Laura Wells, Green
Tammy D. Blair, Democratic
Betty Yee, Democratic

I don't know how serious a campaign Swearengin will run but if she runs a serious campaign she has a chance to win in November. She won't be running against an incumbent. Democratic incumbents are impossible to beat here but open seat races can be won by Republicans. She'll be running against a Democrat with a decent profile, but who isn't well known statewide. I'd guess that Betty Yee isn't well known outside the Bay area and that John Perez isn't even that well known in Los Angeles. I pay attention and wouldn't know where his district is without looking it up.

Swearengin is coming from the Central Valley, an area with a big Democratic registration advantage, and one that voted heavily for Obama. But it supports Republicans down ticket. In 2008 she defeated now-Assemblymember Henry Perea for mayor by a margin of 12,000 votes, while Obama was beating McCain by 21,000. Perea is now considered the Democrats best Central Valley hope to beat David Valadao in 2016.

Swearengin will make top two without spending a dime. If she does a little work, the primary electorate could even give her 50%. In 2010 the two Republicans pretty much equaled popular incumbent John Chiang's vote total. The primary should deplete the Democrats' bank accounts. So while Swearingin is behind on fundraising now, she'll start the general election on equal footing. Swearengin is certainly an underdog for November. That electorate will likely give the average statewide Democrat 57-58% of the vote. Yet if you're betting one race will be tight it could be this one.

The Republican party appears to not have fielded a candidate to run against Controller John Chiang in his campaign for state Treasurer. Green candidate Ellen H. Brown appears to be his only competition. Chiang is shoe in to win the election no matter who runs, but having only a Green candidate as an alternative doesn't present much of a choice for Republicans. Democratic Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones is being challenged by Republican state senator Ted Gaines and Peace and Freedom candidate Nathalie Hrizi.

Secretary Of State:
Leland Yee, Democratic
Jeffrey Drobman, Democratic
Alex Padilla, Democratic
Pete Peterson, Republican
Jose E. Castaneda, Lib
David Scott Curtis
Dan Schnur, NPP

I've written about the Secretary of State election, so there's nothing to add right now.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

CA Controller: Swearengin's Chances

I don't know how serious a campaign Swearengin will run but if she runs a serious campaign she has a chance. She won't be running against an incumbent. Democratic incumbents are impossible to beat here but open seat races are ones Republicans have a chance in. She'll bee running against a Democrat with a decent profile, but who isn't well known statewide. I'd guess that Betty Yee isn't well known outside the Bay area and that John Perez isn't even that well known in Los Angeles. I pay attention and wouldn't know where his district is without looking it up.

Swearengin is coming from the Central Valley, an area with a big Democratic registration advantage, and one that voted heavily for Obama. But it supports Republicans down ticket. In 2008 she defeated now-Assemblymember Henry Perea for mayor by a margin of 12,000 votes, while Obama was beating McCain by 21,000. Perea is now considered the Democrats best Central Valley hope to beat David Valadao in 2016.

Swearengin will make top two without spending a dime. If she does a little work, the primary electorate could even give her 50%. In 2010 the two Republicans pretty much equaled incumbent John Chiang's vote total. The primary should deplete the bank accounts of the Democrats, however. So she'd start a general election on equal footing.

Some people might scoff at the idea a Republican has a shot. If you look at open seats Republicans ran against candidates who hadn't won statewide before, their record shows they've been close. In 9 such elections between 2002 and 2010, Republicans lost the 5 of them by 4 points or less and two of them by less than a point. Strangely, the one open seat a Republican won was the 2006 insurance commissioner race that Steve Poizner ran against the incumbent Lieutenant Governor.

Swearengin is certainly an underdog for November. That electorate will likely give the average statewide Democrat 57-58% of the vote. Yet if you're betting one race will be tight it could be this one.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

CA-Controller: Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin Running

The Republican Party had been without a candidate for some statewide offices. While the party is unlikely to win any statewide offices, they have to field credible candidates for the offices to be considered a serious party. Today Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin announced she was running for controller. The move, two days before the filing deadline, was a surprise.


Doing a favor for the CAGOP and Jim Brulte can open up all sorts of doors, especially in the private sector. It might even get Charlie Munger to take your calls.

I'll have more to say after filing closes on Friday.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

CA AD-36: Allegations Against Steve Fox

If the Republican party is still viable in California, it has to pick up assembly, senate, and congressional districts in 2014. The conditions will be as good as it'll get. The mid-term electorate is more favorable to Republicans than the Presidential electorate and there's a Democrat in the White House. If the GOP doesn't pick up districts this year, then it's likely that the Democratic tide is so strong that they'll keep picking up Republican districts every election.

The most vulnerable Democratic district is AD-36 covering Lancaster-Palmdale and part of Kern County. This is a district that every Republican running statewide won in 2010. Tony Strickland lost the Controller's race 55%-36%. He still won this district 45%-39%. Mimi Walters lost the Treasurer's race 56%-36%. She still won this district 44%-42%. Democrat Steve Fox won the district by 145 votes and that was only after picking up 67% of the vote on the final day of po-stelection night counting. No district was closer and none voted more Republican.

Fox, who already had a huge target on his back, got a bigger one. A former campaign staffer and state office aide alleged that Fox forced employees to perform work at his private law practice and his campaign, and didn't pay them minimum wage. Disgruntled ex-employees will say anything. So any allegation should be taken with a presumption of innocence. The problem is that allegations like this, even those that aren't true, dog campaigns and will certainly be used against Fox. Fox claims innocence and said, “Nothing will ever be offered for settlement because I expect to litigate it out and win.”

That's the wrong move. What Fox needs is for the former employee to recant the charges. He doesn't appear to be going that way. Going to court will only keep this story in the public eye. There are three possible outcomes. If the case is still lingering through the election and hasn't been resolved, nothing will refute the allegations. Republicans will be able to use it through election day. If Fox wins after people hear ugly stories for months. the uglier allegations may hurt more than the outcome. That's the best outcome and it isn't a good one. If Fox loses, he could face criminal charges and possible expulsion from the assembly.

Republicans have another bullet in the chamber against the most vulnerable Democrat.