Monday, April 20, 2015

CA-Sen: Loretta Sanchez close to a decision

Loretta Sanchez is going to announce her decision on a U.S. Senate bid this week and all indications are that she’ll jump in the race. Thus far, the race has been a sleepy affair, not usually what you’d expect for a U.S. Senate race, especially one from a state with more than 8 times the population of Maryland. Speculation has been that Democrats haven’t gotten in either out of respect for Attorney General Kamala Harris or because they can’t beat her.

And Harris is certainly a formidable candidate. She’s reported raising $2.5 million in the first quarter of 2015, a large amount for a quarter so far from the election. She’s a favorite of African-Americans and White progressives, has won statewide, and accumulated endorsements. Polling has been confusing. Harris has polled strongly in the horse race question. A USC Dornsife poll found that 60% of voters had no impression of Harris. Frankly, I don’t know what to make of this Field poll. They asked an unusual question about inclinations of voters to support a candidate. That’d appear to mean nothing, as Democrats will support a Democrat in a general.

While a lot of people think Harris has it in the bag, I'm not so sure. California is a big diverse state. While Harris has her constituencies, she is unknown to some and her electoral track record isn't as good as Jerry Brown. Harris' big weaknesses are considered to be moderate Democrats, Hispanics, and Southern California. A Democrat who could run strong with those three groups could beat Harris. Is there such a Democrat? Sanchez is Latina and from Southern California. I'm not sure she is the type of moderate Democrat favored in the Central Valley, however. She'd start behind in fundraising. At the end of the first quarter she had only $540k in her Federal account. That isn't as big a deal for her as it might be to other candidates. Spanish language media is highly targeted to voters she wants to reach and is much less expensive than general market media. She wouldn't need nearly as much money. Sanchez is a tough campaigner. So she certainly could provide a challenge to Harris.

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

CA-24: Lois Capps retiring

Democratic congresswoman Lois Capps of Santa Barbara will retire at the end of this term. The district should be competitive and it did result in a 51.9%-48.1% result in 2014 even though the Republican, Chris Mitchum, was a 71 year old Tea Party candidate who was massively outspent. An open seat should be much easier. On the other hand, Republicans had a great year in 2014. You need no more evidence than that a 71 year old Tea Partier who was dramatically outspent only lost by 3.8%. Abel Maldonado's spending was much closer to Lois Capps and he lost by 10.2% in 2012.

The 2016 electorate will look a lot like 2012 and the NRCC has shown no interest in helping in most California districts. So it's hard to see them changing that direction. Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian is the best GOP candidate. Achadjian is termed out of the assembly. He won an R+3 district by 22.6% in 2012. So he ran 11% ahead of Mitt Romney. Former state senator Sam Blakeslee could run, as well as three 2014 candidates, Mitchum, Justin Fareed, and Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco

Lois Capps' daughter Laura is regarded as a possible candidate. She wasn't living in Santa Barbara until recently. While Capps does have extensive ties to the district, she'd be the latest of a long line of Democratic candidates who move to a district to run. Democratic Assemblyman Das Williams could also run. If he does I'd favor him over Capps. A legacy candidacy can only take you so far.

Monday, April 6, 2015

CA SD-7 Democratic cat fight

Democrats finished first and second in the SD-7 special election last month. A run-off will happen next month. There are Democrats who are in big labor's back pocket and take their voting orders from them. There are others who aren't and they are vilified for being in the pocket of special interests. Strangely, Democrats don't consider groups like unions and the Sierra Club special interests. Big labor is condemning Democrat Steve Glazer for working for the Chamber of Commerce, an organization with members who support Republican candidates. If working for someone who supports Republicans disqualifies someone from being a real Democrat than anyone in a union who works for a corporation isn't a real Democrat. Look who is paying their paycheck. It'll be interesting to see how someone who doesn't adhere to party orthodoxy does in this election. In a Top Two with two Democrats, positioning yourself close to the center usually wins a candidate Republican and moderate Democratic votes.