They’re Off and Running for 2018

Scott Lay
Publisher of The Nooner

With the Senate race behind her, Loretta Sanchez has at least a few political routes forward. She could try for governor or another statewide office in 2018, wait to see if Dianne Feinstein retires and make another attempt at the Senate, or stay closer to home and run for a position in Orange County, such as on the Board of Supervisors.”

Sanchez lives in Orange, which is in the 3rd Supervisorial district, currently represented by former Republican Assemblymember Todd Spitzer. The district strongly leans Republican.

The two seats where Democrats have a significant voter registration advantage are the 1st and 4th. The 1st (Garden Grove, Santa Ana, Westminster, and part of Fountain Valley) is represented by Andrew Do, the former chief of staff to now-State Senator Janet Nguyen. The district is a mix of of Santa Ana Latinos, although it is becoming highly gentrified. The remaining part of the district is heavily Asian–particularly Vietnamese and Korean. Do is a Republican and the district is up in 2020. Waiting until 2020 and challenging a Vietnamese-American would probably not be the best move.

The 4th district is represented by Shawn Nelson, a former Fullerton City Councilmember. The district is on the northern part of Orange County (Anaheim, Brea, Buena Park, Fullerton, La Habra Placentia) and is 45.8% Latino. The district is up in 2018, and as is seen in the AD65 race (Young Kim v. Sharon Quirk-Silva), is competitive for Democrats–but, particularly in presidential years with lower turnout particularly among Latinos in midterms. Nelson is term-limited in 2018.

However, it would be an easy move from Orange to an apartment in Anaheim, where Sanchez already represents 35.8% of the 4th supevisorial district.

The statewide contests that are likely possibilities are U.S. Senate, Lieutenant Governor and Insurance Commissioner, unless she chose to challenge an incumbent. Governor already has a very crowded field (Chiang, Newsom, Villaraigosa), and the Democratic incumbents in the offices of Controller and Secretary of State heavily favored. Senator Ed Hernandez has gobbled up the endorsements for LtGov and had $371,045 as of June 30, and has raised $200k+ since then. Outgoing-Assemblymember Mike Gatto has $2.1 million in an account for Lite Gov as well as $2.1 million for Treasurer. State Senate president Kevin de León has $1.2 million on hand for Lt. Gov.

Treasurer is likely to be open, with John Chiang running for Governor. Gatto also, however, is in the mix for an appointment to Attorney General.

Insurance Commissioner is currently being sought by former Assemblymember Henry Perea, who has $851,651 on hand.

If Dianne Feinstein retires in 2018–still an uncertainty–it will be a crowded field. Look for Congressman Xavier Becerra, Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti, State Senate President Kevin de León, Feinstein daughter Katherine Feinstein, and activist Tom Steyer as possible candidates. This is stream-of-conciousness early in the morning, so I’m likely missing folks.

If Becerra ran for U.S. Senate, de León becomes the favorite for Becerra’s 34th congressional seat, where de León also lives. Former Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez also lives in the district, and has $582k on hand in two accounts. de León and Pérez are longtime rivals, and that would be a nasty fight.

It’s hard to judge how much money a possible candidate like de León, as the fundraising limits on state offices are much higher than for congressional and U.S. Senate offices. (Statewide other than Governor-$7,000, U.S. Senate $2,700 (both to be indexed for inflation for 17-18). Somelike like de León could transfer up to the federal limit per donor for a U.S. Senate bid. Billionaire Tom Steyer could spend unlimited amounts of his own money on a bid, and Katherine Feinstein could obviously raise a lot of money fast.

Anyway, that’s all based on speculation that Feinstein, who will be 85 in 2018, will retire. She has sent no signals that she will, but the feelings in Washington are that she will, particularly after Tuesday’s results in which Democrats thought they had a very good chance to take back the Senate, which would have made Feinstein the chair of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. 2018 is not a good year for Democrats to take back the Senate, which likely influences Feinstein’s decision.

It’s very late to launch a campaign for statewide office in 2018, with the likely candidates having lots of cash on hand.

Supervisor, however, comes with a decent salary ~$153,000 and a pension plan, with the pension unlike the state offices. In the 4th district, then-incumbent Shawn Nelson had a landslide in June 2014, but he ran against an unknown.

If Sanchez wants to remain in public life, a run for the 4th supervisorial district is probably the likeliest move and she’d have a real shot against Nelson. My ears on the ground in OC have heard about eight possible candidates–all city councilmembers–four Dems and four Reps. None of them would have the name recognition or fundraising ability of Sanchez.

Oh, the dominoes. We’re 6 days after the 2016 election, and all eyes are on 2018. Thankfully, as I have to have something to write about!

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