Search The Archives
The Watch List: The Ten Most Contested Races in CaliforniaSo here we go with a new feature, the California Majority Report's Top Ten. Every few days, we'll rank the various races for seats in Sacramento and Congress, along with a recent update on each. Races will move up and down the scale based on competitiveness.
Without further adue:
1. LG -- Garamendi (D) vs. McClintock (R)
On paper, Garamendi should have a commanding lead. He's one of the most recognizeable names in California politics. He holds a high profile job as Insurance Commissioner, and used the platform to crusade against insurance companies. And he's from the Central Valley, keeping him competitive in an area where Democrats typically have to make up hundreds of thousands of votes. Yet he still can't shake Sen. Tom McClintock, the darling of the Republican right; the latest polls rate this race a toss-up. Garamendi has won the lion's share of endorsements this week. Meanwhile, McClintock aired a controversial negative commercial using footage from a Senate hearing spliced into an attack on an entirely different topic. A Labor IE Committee has weighed in with some serious cash to help buffet Garamendi's fundraising efforts. But despite their public differences, Schwarzenegger's Republican GOTV operation is working behind-the-scenes to bolster McClintock's chances. And there are rumors of millions of dollars from tribes heading McClintock's way.
2. Secretary of State -- Bowen (D) vs. McPherson (R)
Incumbent Secretary of State Bruce McPherson is in a hotly-contested race with Democratic Sen. Debra Bowen. McPherson should have had the advantages of incumbency (he was appointed to the position by Gov. Schwarzenegger). But being in office seems to be a disadvantage for him. This week, Democrats have hit McPherson for being slow to react to allegations of illegal mailings to Latino voters in southern California. The McPherson campaign also appears to be a stealth operation; he's received little press and lost some key newspaper endorsements. Perhaps McPherson's gentlemanly approach to campaigning is hurting him, while Senator Bown seems to be getting some traction. Hailing from the LA metro area, Bowen has a solid base. Aside from Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Bowen is the only other woman on the ticket, which also might play to her advantage.
3. State Senate -- Correa (D) vs. Dausher (R)
This is the legislative battle royale this year, the only Senate seat that both parties are pouring resources into. Democratic Sen. Joe Dunn, who lost a primary for controller, is termed out. Aggressive Republican voter registration efforts have made the seat more competitive, and it seems this race is boiling down to who has the best ground game. Correa is a no-nonsense, pro-business Democrat; Dausher is a loyal Republican who occasionally sides with Democrats on education and health care issues. State Senate President pro Tem Don Perata and his team weighed in early with Correa, helping him win a contested (and somewhat nasty) primary over Assemblyman Tom Umberg. His political operation is the force behind this campaign. Correa's camp is playing up the mysterious letter mailed to Orange County Latino voters that has been decried by everyone from the Governor to Angelides to local Republicans. The issue is sure to stir up the district's Latino voters, who are expected to support Correa.
4. Assembly District 80 -- Clute (D) vs. Garcia (R)
Controversial Assemblymember Bonnie Garcia should have had this one wrapped up weeks ago: she's nursed the district well with constituent services, had a strong money edge, and faced a Democratic opponent with little money who'd just recovered from a razor-thin win in the Democratic primary. But she's blown it. She's stuck her foot in her mouth repeatedly, and it's coming back to bite her. The latest incident was before a group of schoolchildren in her district, where she made sexually suggestive comments. And there's more where that came from. Garcia has been benefitting from more than $400,000 in funds from local tribes, prompting charges of "pay-to-play" (Garcia was the author of the legislation approving gaming compacts at the end of the session) and an FPPC complaint. Democrats are now pouring resources into the district for her Democratic opponent, former Assemblyman Steve Clute. Clute is well known in the district and has strong union support.
5. Insurance Commissioner -- Bustamante (D) vs. Poizner (R)
Lt. Governor Cruz Bustamante is in the fight of his life, fending off the well-financed attack of bizillionaire Steve Poizner. Bustamante is banking on his name ID and strong support among the Latino community. Poizner is counting on his unlimited checkbook to boost his image as a moderate, reform-oriented Republican. Both candidates have had their troubles, and both are regarded with some suspicion within their own party (Bustamante for his recall run and Poizner for his moderate positions in a party controlled by conservatives). In recent days, Poizner has picked up some surprising newspaper endorsements, including that of the liberal San Francisco Chronicle.
6. Congress -- Brown (D) vs. Doolittle (R)
This northern California congressional seat should be safely in Republican hands. Long-term incumbent John Doolittle has been re-elected easily in the past and Republicans have a strong registration advantage. But suddenly, this seat has moved onto the national watch lists for a possible Democratic turnover. Doolittle has been plagued by a never-ending series of scandal and missteps. The Sacramento Bee, the dominant media outlet in the area, has been relentless in covering Doolittle's every move and has endorsed his opponent, Democrat Charlie Brown. Brown has proven to be a strong campaigner with a powerful grassroots support network. A "Republicans for Brown" group has been formed, and money is flowing into his treasury. You know Doolittle must be worried when he had to fly President Bush in to bolster his fundraising efforts.
7. Congress -- McNerney (D) vs. Pombo (R)
Here's another Republican House seat that's up for grabs. Veteran Congressman Richard Pombo, like Doolittle, has been tied to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and repeatedly been embroiled in scandal. This week, he gained headlines for his behind-the-scenes efforts to give Big Oil billions of dollars in tax breaks. Pombo has been enemy #1 of environmental groups; both the League of Conservation Voters and the Sierra Club have targeted this seat and sent busloads of volunteers to help the Democratic ground effort. National Republicans have been forced to chip in more than $500,000 into a race that should have been a shoo-in. Meanwhile, McNerney has been taken under the wing of national Democrats and launched an effective new commercial, noted here several days ago. McNerney also has won several key newspaper endorsements.
8. Assembly -- Sherard (D) vs. Horton (R)
Republican Shirley Horton has won two close battles in this San Diego area district, and is hoping the third time is a charm. The soft-spoken Horton has relied on picking up a sizeable chunk of votes from the district's large African-American population in the past and trying to downplay her Republican votes. Her mail campaign is blitzing voters by emphasizing her "independent" leanings, which, as Democrats point out, simply aren't there. Horton is a solid Republican vote, though her Caucus allows her to stray on hot-button issues (she was the only Republican in the legislature to vote for the greenhouse gas emissions bill). Her opponent is Dr. Maxine Sherard, a community activist and former college science and math professor. Sherard is also African-American. Assembly Democrats have made this race a top target and are beginning to pour money into mail and media efforts in the district.
9. Assembly -- Parra (D) vs. Gilmore (R)
This was supposed to be a barnburner. The GOP thought it had found its perfect candidate in retired CHP Officer Danny Gilmore. But Gilmore has turned out to have all the problems of a neophyte running for his first office. His debate performances have been subpar and the attacks on Parra are tired and ineffective. Parra, meanwhile, is showing that she's tough on the campaign trail and is taking advantages of her incumbency. Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez announced that she will chair the Agriculture Committee when re-elected. That has won her the endorsement of the Farm Bureau and helped in her backing by the Fresno Bee this week.
10. Governor -- Angelides (D) vs. Schwarzenegger (R)
Why is this on our Top 10 lists? Two words: Arnold Schwarzenegger. At any given moment, anything California's version of Jesse Ventura says or does could turn the race upside down. On top of that, there hasn't been a single public poll showing Schwarzenegger over 50 percent. Angelides has a heavy schedule of campaigning with the state's top Democrats down the stretch, including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Mayor Antonio Villariagosa, and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez. If Democrats come home as expected, this race will tighten quickly.
Browse in : [ Reports ]
"On top of that, there hasn't been a single public poll showing Schwarzenegger over 50 percent." - Two by Survey USA and one by the LA Times don't count?
The Watch List: The Ten Most Contested Races in CaliforniaPosted by: Steven Maviglio on October 19, 2006
The LA Times was 50 percent, not "over 50 percent" as I wrote. Survey USA? The poll is so ridiculous that AP refuses to write about it; I have another post appearing soon that talks about that in detail.
I've been looking for those Democrats to come home for quite a while now. Where the heck are they? I was pushing the "no poll over 50%" angle a couple weeks ago. But we're less than three weeks out and the "homecoming" still has yet to materialize. Frankly, the California Democratic party is a bit of an embarrasment. This is a year when Democrats are running strong all over the country - I mean this week the GOP was pouring six-figure sums to defend an incumbent in Idaho of all places - yet here in "blue" California, the political leadership hasn't been able to unify behind the top of our ticket and put forward a coordinated effort. As a result, we could be looking at a blowout if something doesn't change quick. And I'm not sure the die isn't already cast at this point.
"Arnold was at 50%, not over 50%" - go ahead and write that on the Angelides' campaign's tombstone if it makes you feel better. I already reluctantly voted for Angelides absentee, but all Democrats need to face the fact that the party nominated a lousy candidate.
and it's an important difference b/c her website is her name. The other belongs to an author.
The Majority Vote
The Echo Chamber