By Doug Porter
Political consultants and pollsters around the country are predicting that election eve 2014 will be a long and mostly unhappy experience for Democrats.
Not so here on the left coast, where the burning issue is whether the Dems can maintain the super-majority in both houses of the state legislature. Republican predictions that the state would end up as an economic disaster under such circumstance haven’t proven to be true, so they’ve conjured up a few new prognostications and claims… in-between fighting with each other.
2014 will be the last time the GOP will be able to leverage low turnout to win many legislative districts in the state where party registration is competitive. Declining enthusiasm for the Republican brand and increasing numbers of non-white voters for future elections don’t bode well for a party unable to muster enough unity to support candidates that could win in this election.
Unless the Republican party in California can divorce itself from extremists and trickle-down it’s doomed to irrelevance.
There are 100 seats in the Assembly and Senate up for grabs this year. Nobody outside a mental health ward (okay, maybe Santee) believes the Democrats won’t end up in firm control of both chambers. Republicans are hoping for a few key victories allowing their legislators to become an obstructionist force.
My best guess is the Dems will end up with a supermajority in the Assembly and fall short of the mark in the Senate, where they lost key players last year to scandals. With a Democratic administration firmly in place and Republicans in districts undergoing demographic shifts looking over their shoulders, this supermajority business just isn’t that important. I’m much more concerned about Democrats who run with the “D” behind their names and vote like Republicans.
Following is a rundown of the contests in San Diego County. Most voters won’t have much to be concerned with; there are no truly competitive races. For that reason the San Diego Free Press won’t be endorsing candidates in these races.
Following the 2011 redistricting, only even numbered seats in the upper house are up for grabs this year. We have three races to look at in San Diego County.
District 36 – Republicans have a 43-27% advantage.
(South OC/North County: Mission Viejo, Oceanside, Carlsbad)
Gary Kephart – D
Ran as a write-in candidate in the primary, since Bates was unopposed. Has 74 likes on Facebook and no recent news to share. Like his website, he’s a placeholder in this race.
District 38 – Republicans have a 43-28% advantage.
(East County: Escondido, Santee, El Cajon)
If incumbent Anderson actually had to run in a competitive district, he wouldn’t make it past the primary. Takes money from tobacco industry, check. Works with American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) to sponsor corporate legislation, check. You name it, if it’s a sleazy deal with questionable ethics, Joel Anderson will be somewhere nearby.
District 40 – Democrats have a 46-23% advantage
(International border: San Diego, Chula Vista, El Centro)
Incumbent Ben Hueso worked his way thru the San Diego City Council and the Assembly, moving over to Senate in the shuffle following Bob Filner’s decision to run for mayor. He’s gained fame as the councilman who caught (and then didn’t) Carl DeMaio pleasuring himself in a city hall restroom and for a DUI arrest. I don’t think those things are a big deal; his wheelings and dealings make my political spidey sense tingle.
Rafael Estrada has been endorsed by the local taxi drivers. Hueso’s brother owns a cab company.
Of the six seats in actual contention for the Assembly, Democrats need to win four to maintain their super-majority in the lower house. Many pundits like those odds.
There are five Assembly races in San Diego. None of them are competitive.
District 71 – Republicans have a 44-29% advantage
(East County: Santee, El Cajon, La Presa )
It’s an all elephant contest in D-71. Challenger Teora is a centrist Republican. Jones is from the Tim Donnelley wing of the party. He’s also the incumbent.
District 75 – Republicans have an 46-26% advantage
(North County: Temecula, San Marcos, Escondido)
Waldron’s legacy as a city councilmember in Escondido is the rule requiring two members to bring forward any item before it can be placed on the Council agenda. Mayor Sam Abed said in a recent forum he instituted the policy “to avoid extreme and irrelevant” items coming before the Council, saying it was a response to Waldron, who kept bringing “extreme right issues” to the Council.
Shestople appears to be a real progressive Democrat who doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell up there in wingnut land.
District 76 – Republicans have a 39-31% advantage
(North County: Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad)
Rocky Chávez – R
No Democrat has ever run against Rocky Chavez in an Assembly race. I was under the impression this had something to do with Chavez being a reasonable Republican. Then I looked at legislative scorecards from environmental, labor and reproductive rights groups.
And his same party opponent seems to want to be the president of the Tony Krvaric fan club.
UPDATE: Krouse took offense at my characterization of his campaign in an email and the web source I based my assessment on has vanished from my notes. So let’s take him at his word:
Please send me to Sacramento. I will fight to:
* End pay-to-play government and lawmaking by special interest money;
* Re-establish the common sense California republic that is accountable to citizens not lobbyists;
* Create jobs with free market opportunities, and end anti-competitive Sacramento cronyism;
* Enforce accountability on bureaucrats who fail to do their jobs; and,
* Connect veterans to the services they earned, and punish criminality like secret waitlists.
I want to stand up for citizens in the style of progressive Republican President Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, bring back the “Square Deal,” and unleash free enterprise in California again.
District 77 – Republicans have a 38-30% advantage
(Northern San Diego: Kearny Mesa, Miramar, Poway)
Maienschein went to the legislature after serving on the San Diego City Council. Since he served with Scott Peters (2000-2008) I guess you could say he’s also responsible for all the horrible things Carl DeMaio says happened in city government during those years. Opponent Hernandez is NOT endorsed by the Democratic party; in fact while ballotpedia and other voter information sites say he’s a Dem, the candidate says he’s an independent.
District 78 – Democrats have a 40-26% advantage
(Coastal San Diego: La Jolla, Balboa Park, Coronado)
Atkins is speaker of the Assembly. She’s paid her dues and consistently polls as one of San Diego’s most beloved politicians. She’s spending this campaign season working on behalf of other Dems around the state, because she can.
Opponent Barbara Decker seems to be running a campaign to badger her way into a debate with Atkins. Lots of luck with that one. From her Facebook page I gather they think it’s part of a conspiracy that SDFP hadn’t got around to saying wonderful things about her. They shouldn’t be holding their collective breath on that one.
District 79 – Democrats have a 42-28% advantage.
(Eastern San Diego: Mission Valley, La Mesa, Chula Vista)
George Williams (AI)
No website info available
I heard Shirley Weber speak at a function not long ago and was impressed with her. She struck me as smart and dedicated to public service.
I have to wonder about her opponent, a primary write-in candidate who claims loyalty to the party of segregationist George Wallace. In any case, he doesn’t appear to be running an actual campaign.
District 80 – Democrats have a 48-20% advantage
(Southern San Diego: Logan Heights, National City, Chula Vista)
Lorena Gonzalez- D
Incumbent Lorena Gonzalez is unopposed. She’s been busy on weekends campaigning for other Democrats around the state. Because she can.
Special thanks to diarist kurykh from Daily Kos, whose series on the California contests was invaluable in compiling this article
On This Day: 1947 – Hollywood came under scrutiny as the House Un-American Activities Committee opened hearings into alleged Communist influence within the motion picture industry. 1973 – “The Joker” was released by the Steve Miller Band. 1980 – Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan writes to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorses Reagan, “I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety.” He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election, he fires the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions
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