With the June Primary now behind us, it’s time to focus on the November General Election, and to suggest where serious congressional and state legislative races will be fought.

This is the second election cycle that California voters went through what some like to call the “Jungle Primary,” with the top two vote getters, regardless of party preference, facing each other in a November runoff election.

Like 2012, many of the races that will be waged this November will be between two candidates of the same party: seven races for Congress; six for state Senate; and eleven for state Assembly. But I’ll cover those races in a future article.

Following are my early picks as to where the action will be in the traditional Democrat vs. Republican races.


Democratic and Republican House Leaders have already telegraphed which House races they are targeting by reserving several million dollars in TV buys for the fall campaign.

The Republicans are mainly playing offense this cycle, reserving $960,000 in Sacramento media where freshman Democratic Rep. Ami Bera faces former GOP Rep. Doug Ose (CD7); $490,000 on Palm Springs broadcast where freshman Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz faces GOP Asm. Brian Nestande (CD36); and $1.7 million on San Diego broadcast where freshman Democratic Rep. Scott Peters faces former San Diego City Councilmember Carl DeMaio (CD52).

Playing defense, Republicans have reserved $1.025 million on Bakersfield and Fresno broadcast and cable where freshman GOP Rep. David Valadao faces former Capitol Hill aide Amanda Renteria (CD21).

The Democrats currently have two races where they are playing offense, reserving $1.1 million in airtime against Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, who faces beekeeper/farmer Michael Eggman (CD10); and reserving $1.1 million in airtime against Republican Rep. David Valadao (CD21).

Playing defense, the Democrats have reserved $950,000 in support of freshman Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley, who is facing GOP Asm. Jeff Gorell (CD26).

The Democrats almost certainly will pick up CD31 currently held by GOP Rep. Gary Miller, a race the Democrats lost in 2012 due to the Democrats splitting the vote in the Top Two Primary, which resulted in a same party November runoff between Miller and former GOP Sen. Bob Dutton. Miller is not seeking reelection this year, and Democrat Pete Aguilar, a member of the Redlands City Council, is heavily favored to defeat Republican Paul Chabot, an anti-drug activist.

On my watch list is CD3, where GOP Asm. Dan Logue is challenging Democratic Rep. John Garamendi.


Kevin de Leon, upon his election as the new President pro Tem of the Senate, stated that his primary goal this November is to assure that Democrats preserve the super-majority they won in 2012. To achieve that goal, he needs to win at least one of three races that are in play: SD12 (R-Anthony Cannella); SD14 (R-Andy Vidak); and SD34 (open seat).

Sen. Cannella, one of the very few Republicans who received the endorsement of the California Labor Federation, received 64% of the Primary vote against Democrat Shawn Bagley a produce broker and Democratic Party activist from Monterey County. Rumor has it that the Democrats may not go all out to win this race.

Sen. Vidak, an upset winner in a July 2013 Special Election (old SD16), is now seeking reelection in the new, heavily Democratic/Latino SD14. Vidak’s Democratic opponent is Fresno school board member Luis Chavez, whom he outpolled in the June Primary 62% to 38%. An excellent showing for Vidak, but this is a district that Obama carried over Romney 58% to 40% and the California Democratic Party has already contributed over $200,000 to the Chavez campaign. I tag this race as leaning Republican, but the registration numbers heavily favor the Democrat.

SD34, the Orange County district that Democrat Lou Correa must give up due to term limits, is the most competitive of the three districts and may be the race that determines whether or not de Leon gets his super-majority.

In 2012, Obama carried it over Romney 53% to 44%; in 2010, Whitman carried it over Brown 48% to 43%. The top vote getter in the recent June Primary, with 52% of the vote, was Republican Janet Nguyen, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. Former Democratic Assembly Member Jose Solorio came in a distant second with 33%, followed by Republican Long Pham, a perennial candidate. This will be one of the hottest races this cycle, with millions being spent by the two candidates and independent expenditure committees.


Republicans have two Democratic held seats at the top of their target list: AD36 (D-Steve Fox); and AD65 (D-Sharon Quirk-Silva).

Fox’s Republican opponent in 2012, believing this to be a safe GOP seat, was caught napping, allowing Fox to win by a slim margin of 145 votes. This year, three Republicans and a fellow Democrat challenged Fox in the June Primary. The top vote getter, with 41.5% of the vote was Republican Tom Lackey, a member of the Palmdale City Council. Fox came in a distant second, with 33%. The combined GOP vote among the three was 63%. This is the Republicans best chance to pick up a seat.

Quirk-Silver defeated GOP Asm. Chris Norby in 2012, 52% to 48%. Hoping to bring the seat back into the Republican column is Republican Young Kim, a field representative to Rep. Ed Royce and active in many Korean American organizations. She outpolled Quirk-Silva in the June Primary 55% to 45%. This will be a slugfest between two top tier candidates and I tag it as a toss up.

The Democrats have two Republican held seat at the top of their target list: AD40 is a vacant seat due to former GOP Asm. Mike Morrell being elected to the state Senate in a March Special Election; and AD44, where GOP Asm. Jeff Gorell is giving up the seat to run for Congress.

In 2012, both Morrell and Gorell were reelected by very narrow margins running against weak, underfunded candidates. The Democratic leadership did not play in either of these races, but are expected to come in strong this time around.

In AD40, the Republican is Marc Steinorth, a member of the Rancho Cucamonga City Council; the Democrat is Kathleen Henry, a university instructor. This race is a toss up.

In AD44, the Republican is Rob McCoy, a pastor of a large church in Thousand Oaks; the Democrat is Jacqui Irwin, a member of the Thousand Oaks City Council. Due to the large Latino voter population in Oxnard, I tag this district as leans Democratic.

There are several districts that I have on my watch list, races that could become targets this November.

They are AD16: Republican Catharine Baker vs. Democrat Tim Sbranti; AD21: Democratic Asm. Adam Gray vs. Republican Jack Mobley; AD32: Democratic Asm. Rudy Salas vs. Republican Pedro Rios; AD57: Democratic Asm. Ian Calderon vs. Republican Rita Topalian; AD60: GOP Asm. Eric Linder vs. Democrat Ken Park; and AD66: Democratic Asm. Al Muratsuchi vs. Republican David Hadley.

But more on these races in a future article.

Let the games begin.