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"It was a splendid population - for all the slow, sleepy, sluggish-brained sloths stayed at home - you never find that sort of people among pioneers - you cannot build pioneers out of that sort of material. It was that population that gave to California a name for getting up astounding enterprises and rushing them through with a magnificent dash and daring and a recklessness of cost or consequences, which she bears unto this day - and when she projects a new surprise the grave world smiles as usual and says, "Well, that is California all over."

- - - - Mark Twain (Roughing It)

Thursday, January 23, 2014

California Congressional seats that could switch parties

Howard "Buck" McKeon

Buck McKeon Retires
  • McKeon's seat appears to be safe for Republicans, but other seats are targeted around the state.

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), a onetime western wear haberdasher who rose to become chairman of the powerful House Armed Services Committee, is announcing Thursday that he will retire after more than two decades in Congress.

His departure at the close of the current term will further diminish California's clout on Capitol Hill, at least in the short term, and set the stage for a competitive race to choose his successor.

The 75-year-old McKeon has chaired the Armed Services Committee since 2011, taking a leading role in fighting spending cuts to the Pentagon, but must give up the gavel after this year because of GOP term limits for its committee leaders reports the Los Angeles Times.

"After you've been chairman of the committee, then what do you do?" he said in an interview in his Capitol Hill office, where he was joined by his wife, Patricia.

McKeon's 25th Congressional District in Northern Los Angeles County
and part of Ventura County.  The district appears will remain in GOP hands
in a year of Obamacare being the #1 issue.

United States House of Representatives elections, 2012
RepublicanHoward McKeon (incumbent)121,59354.77%
DemocraticLee Rogers106,98245.22%
Voter turnout %
Republican hold


McKeon, who endorsed former state Sen. Tony Strickland as his replacement, will become the third California congressman to head for the exits when his term expires, further shaking up a delegation that has built up influence on Capitol Hill because of its stability over the years. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), dean of the delegation, announced this week that he would not seek reelection, ending a 40-year career in a chamber where seniority still matters.

Republicans hold an edge in registered voters in McKeon's district, with 39% to Democrats' 35%. Republican Mitt Romney narrowly defeated President Obama in the district in the 2012 election despite the Democratic win statewide.

In addition to Strickland, state Sen. Stephen Knight (R-Palmdale) has said he planned to run if McKeon retired. Several Democrats — including Lee Rogers, a podiatrist who ran against McKeon in 2012, and Evan Thomas, a retired Air Force officer and test pilot — also have signaled their interest in running.

McKeon said that besides the pending loss of his leadership position, there were other factors in his decision, including "naysayers" within the Republican ranks who have frustrated House GOP leadership.

Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine), 58, also has announced plans to retire when his term ends.

California Swing Districts 2014 

The National Journal recently listed the top 30 House seats that might change hands in 2014.  Here are the California seats they selected.

2. California-31—Rep. Gary Miller (R) is running for reelection
Miller is only in Congress right now thanks to a series of post-redistricting flukes, the biggest of which was a split Democratic vote allowing another Republican to sneak through California's top-two primary alongside Miller last cycle. The party isn't unified—the DCCC is backing Pete Aguilar, EMILY's List is behind Eloise Gomez Reyes, and former Rep. Joe Baca still has some support—but it's very hard to envision another repeat failure here, given the San Bernardino district's liberal lean (57 percent support for Obama in 2012).

11. California-52—Rep. Scott Peters (D) is running for reelection
No serious Republican congressional candidate has drawn more attention for breaking the mold: Former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio, who is openly gay, has also openly called for his party to deemphasize social issues and focus on pocketbook matters. Democrats successfully tagged DeMaio as over-conservative in his losing 2012 mayoral race, but both he and Peters have crossover appeal. A neat map from KPBS shows about two-thirds of Peters precincts also going for DeMaio where their races overlapped in 2012.
A Gay Conservative Republican for Congressin San Diego.
Carl DeMaio for Congress

14. California-07—Rep. Ami Bera (D) is running for reelection
Redistricting and the march of demographic change outside Sacramento helped Bera capture the seat in 2012, but three Republicans are linking him to the president's health care law and arguing he's part of D.C.'s problems in trying to replace him. The GOP battle for the second general-election spot could get nasty, if history is any guide: Former Rep. Doug Ose's last race was a Republican primary brawl against fellow candidate Igor Birman's old boss, Rep. Tom McClintock.

20. California-36—Rep. Raul Ruiz (D) is running for reelection
Republicans identified a candidate here early: Assemblyman Brian Nestande is a veteran of the Bono political machine. But he's started slowly, especially on the fundraising front. The Palm Springs-based district is changing rapidly, which helped fuel Ruiz's unexpected victory last term and helped Obama actually perform slightly better here in 2012 than 2008 despite losing ground nationally. If Ruiz can hold his seat and give that change another couple of years, congressional Republicans may never get another chance to retake the 36th.

23. California-21—Rep. David Valadao (R) is running for reelection
By presidential performance, this is the second-bluest seat held by a House Republican, so the relatively untested Valadao has to look over his shoulder a bit. But those numbers also obscure some major issues for Democrats in the Central Valley. Former Senate staffer Amanda Renteria has Democrats excited and may prove to be a strong campaigner, but her party just lost a 2013 state Senate special election in a district that largely overlapped with the 21st.

General election 2012
RepublicanDavid Valadao67,16457.8%
DemocraticJohn Hernandez49,11942.2%
Republican win (new seat)


A top Democrat target.
Valadao won in a near impossible seat in the 2012 landslide Obama election. 
The Obamacare 2014 election should make his re-election a bit easier,
but he is still a major target.
Valadao for Congress
California GOP Assemblyman Brian Nestande is in a tough race to retake a
Palm Springs seat the Republicans lost in the 2012 Obama landslide.

 Brian Nestande for Congress 

Palm Springs - The Key to Congress
The People's Republic of California is key to having a non-Marxist majority in the House of Representatives.  The Golden State currently sends 15 Republicans to the House (almost the entire GOP majority margin).  Just ten year ago Republicans had 20 to 24 seats.
The 36th District is an example of the failure of the Republican Party and Conservatism.  The district is based around solidly middle class communities like Palm Springs.  The GOP has lost middle class seat after middle class seat.  Simply, if the Republican platform is unable to win middle class districts then there is no future for the party.

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