Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
August 28, 2014

How the California Governor’s Race May Be a Boon for House Democrats

A controversial Republican gubernatorial candidate in California could cause the GOP headaches in down-ballot House races in a state crucial to the party’s hopes of increasing its House majority.

State Assemblyman Tim Donnelly led Neel Kashkari, a former U.S. Treasury official and the establishment-preferred candidate, by 5 points in a poll this month from the Public Policy Institute of California. That has top Republican operatives in California and Washington, D.C., concerned that Donnelly’s controversial comments and ties to the California Minutemen, a group that fights illegal immigration on the border, could mobilize Hispanic and other Democratic-base voters who otherwise might fall off in this midterm year.

Their fear is that the increased turnout to oppose Donnelly could boost the re-election hopes of vulnerable House Democrats and perhaps even improve the party’s chances to add to its ranks in the already Democrat-heavy delegation. A consultant with ties to Kashkari is among the Republicans sounding the alarm.

“It would be a fucking disaster,” said Jason Roe, a San Diego-based consultant who has worked with numerous congressional campaigns and whose firm is consulting for Kashkari.

Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown is expected to finish way ahead of both Republicans in the June 3 top-two primary and is favored to win re-election in November. House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy of California, who has led the party’s efforts at the congressional level in the state, noted in a brief interview Thursday that the GOP always has difficulty running statewide, so Republican House candidates must work to individualize their races.

“Neither of them are polling really well,” McCarthy said. “I always think people run in their own districts. Statewide it’s tough.”

Still, the party’s concern has been voiced over national airwaves. Karl Rove, founder of the GOP-aligned super PAC American Crossroads, which is spending on congressional races, said on the Hugh Hewitt radio show this month that the “outrageous things” Donnelly has said and done “will be used to tarnish” the state party and Republican candidates.

While the gubernatorial race is an issue for the GOP, Republicans are expected to get three top-tier House candidates through primaries in competitive districts represented by freshman Democrats.

Former Rep. Doug Ose is favored to take on Rep. Ami Bera in the 7th District; former Capitol Hill aide Brian Nestande is expected to face Rep. Raul Ruiz in the 36th District; and former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio will take on Rep. Scott Peters in the 52nd District.

They represent some of the party’s best pickup opportunities in the country, though President Barack Obama won all three in 2012. Crucial to Republicans winning back these seats is Democratic drop-off and a motivated GOP base. Republicans say Donnelly could keep moderate Republicans home, and motivate Democrats to head to the polls — effectively vanquishing a GOP advantage in the fall.

“There were some seats that Republicans narrowly lost in 2012,” California Republican strategist Kurt Bardella said. “And Donnelly could have a harmful effect if he’s on the top of the ticket.”

Similarly, Democrats have a prime pickup opportunity in the 21st District, where freshman GOP Rep. David Valadao is likely to face former Capitol Hill aide Amanda Renteria in a district Obama carried by 11 points in 2012. Higher Hispanic turnout in that district could be a boon for Renteria, whom Democrats tout as one of their top recruits this cycle.

While Donnelly leads in polling of the gubernatorial race, Kashkari has the infrastructural advantages. He pulled in high-profile endorsements in the final weeks of the contest from Mitt Romney, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Rep. Darrell Issa. Plus, the San Francisco Chronicle reported Thursday that Kashkari’s investment of personal funds gave him a significant financial edge over Donnelly, while a super PAC formed to help Kashkari get through the primary received a massive influx of cash this week.

Democrats have their own problems in the state, stemming from the top-two primary — where the two highest vote recipients advance to the general regardless of party.

In the 31st District, it could be déjà vu for Democrats in a district they should have won in 2012. Retiring Republican Rep. Gary G. Miller and another Republican advanced there in 2012, when four Democrats splintered the vote, taking a seat off the map even though Obama carried it with 57 percent. Democrats are working to avoid a similar scenario this year.

Still, Democrats in the state are jubilant about the possibility of a Donnelly candidacy as June 3 draws near. After a four-seat gain in 2012, the party is looking to increase its majority in the delegation.

“I think Donnelly’s victory would motivate true blue Democrats, while Kashkari’s victory has the potential to change the dialogue for who votes Republican,” Los Angeles Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman said.

Kyle Trygstad contributed to this report

  • wdb

    Will Donnelly really motivate Democratic voters that much, though, if Brown is virtually assured of victory anyway?

    Not saying he’d help Republican prospects – obviously not – but in this particular case he might not affect turnout much either way.

    • marelbert

      Donnelly’s rip motivated me against him!

  • Justin Smith

    Pretty clear the f’ing disaster has been Kashkari’s campaign running the Romney playbook of recruiting the self funded and trying to media/mailer their way to name recognition. It doesn’t ultimately matter which candidate wins the GOP nom for Gov in June, if the dem playbook is paint the opposition as racist, then that’s their fresh idea and they’ll run on it regardless. Donnelly would certainly make that easier, and his success to this point is less about mods vs. cons in the CAGOP, as it is about the failures of the 3rd ranking Republican in the House, who has a long history of either supporting mod candidates or abandoning cons, regardless of the impact to the CA delegation. This is all deckchair shuffling in CA though, as the soon to be only 4th term Gov in CA history will cruise to an inexplicable reelection, and RNC picks up net gains in both chambers.

  • Richard Winger

    Why doesn’t this article mention the SurveyUSA poll that came out the same day? It showed Donnelly with a substantial lead over Kashkari among Asian and Hispanic voters. It also shows overall, Donnelly is leading Kashkari by 7 points.

    • http://www.superbole.org Cliff Vegas

      SurveyUSA has a bias for GOP candidates and is prone to error (2.2 in the last potus election). PPI was far more accurate in the last cycle. Consider also methodology. PPI uses personal telephone interview. SurveyUSA uses robocall which has been shown to amplify bias and errors.

  • Tom Tanton

    so the answer for republicans to win is to become “not republican”? The consultant class has won so much for us already, now haven’t they? why do we keep listening to their bought & paid-for thoughts?

  • YONATAN C

    WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS PREPARED TO DO ABOUT THE UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION BILL? DO THEY PLAN TO WASH THEIR HANDS OF THE WHOLE ISSUE? THERE ARE STILL MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILES WITHOUT ANY MEANS TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES SINCE LAST DECEMBER. THEY NEED YOUR HELP PEOPLE. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE ALREADY TURNED THEIR BACKS AGAINST THEM, AND HAVE TRIED EVERY DELAYING TACTIC KNOWN TO MAN, SO THE BILL COULD NOT BE PASSED IN TIME. THESE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES, FOR THE PAST FIVE MONTHS HAVE SUFFERED EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, BANKRUPTCY, AND HOMELESSNESS, BECAUSE OF YOUR LACK OF COMPASSION AND HUMAN DECENCY. THE UKRAINE HAS RECENTLY BEEN GIVEN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FOREIGN AID, WHAT ABOUT THE POOR AND UNEMPLOYED IN THIS COUNTRY? THE PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER THIS ISSUE IN THE COMING ELECTIONS, AND IT WILL BE OUR TUEN TO VOTE, AND TO VOTE MANY OF YOU OUT OF OFFICE.

    • http://www.superbole.org Cliff Vegas

      mixing federal responsibility with state. how is this relevant to California? Moreover, it’s the GOP dominated house that has voted down and delayed all voting on unemployment benefits. Seems you might direct your frustration at the GOP and work toward getting them out of office so that the Democrats can go about the business of helping fixing many missteps and poor policy decisions.

      I agree on Ukraine – personally, I wish that there wasn’t any treaties or agreements with them, but all of that happened long ago. US has to stand by agreements with other countries, even if later we disagree or don’t like them.

      • FLVetGal

        The relevance of his comment to Californians should be clear. There are House seats in play this election cycle. The composition of the House of Representatives determines what if any legislation is passed.
        Your advice was correct though, individuals must get involved, give what they can, encourage their friends/family to vote in order to ensure that the GOP is sent packing.

  • YONATAN C

    WHAT ARE THE DEMOCRATS PREPARED TO DO ABOUT THE UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION BILL? DO THEY PLAN TO WASH THEIR HANDS OF THE WHOLE ISSUE? THERE ARE STILL MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILES WITHOUT ANY MEANS TO SUPPORT THEMSELVES SINCE LAST DECEMBER. THEY NEED YOUR HELP PEOPLE. THE REPUBLICANS HAVE ALREADY TURNED THEIR BACKS AGAINST THEM, AND HAVE TRIED EVERY DELAYING TACTIC KNOWN TO MAN, SO THE BILL COULD NOT BE PASSED IN TIME. THESE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES, FOR THE PAST FIVE MONTHS HAVE SUFFERED EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, BANKRUPTCY, AND HOMELESSNESS, BECAUSE OF YOUR LACK OF COMPASSION AND HUMAN DECENCY. THE UKRAINE HAS RECENTLY BEEN GIVEN BILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN FOREIGN AID, WHAT ABOUT THE POOR AND UNEMPLOYED IN THIS COUNTRY? THE PEOPLE WILL REMEMBER THIS ISSUE IN THE COMING ELECTIONS, AND IT WILL BE OUR TUEN TO VOTE, AND TO VOTE MANY OF YOU OUT OF OFFICE.

  • Alexis Bannister

    Certainly, today’s liberalism is impelled by the same maniacal death force as its socialist, Marxist, and communist ancestors.

  • YONATAN C

    THE REPUBLICAN SENATE HAS DENIED MORE THAN 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES, WITHOUT UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS, AN EXTENSION THAT WAS PROMISED, AND NEEDED BY THESE POOR FAMILIES. FOR THE PAST FIVE MONTHS THE REPUBLICANS HAVE HELD THE EXTENSION BILL HOSTAGE IN THE SENATE, FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE. MILLIONS OF FAMILIES HAVE HAD TO FACE EVICTIONS, HOME FORECLOSURES, PERSONAL BANKRUPTCIES, AND HOMELESSNESS, WHILE THE REPUBLICANS CONTINUE USING THEM AS BARGAINING CHIPS, TO FURTHER THEIR PARTY’S POLITICAL AGENDA. THEY HAVE SHOWN UTTER CONTEMPT FOR THE POOR AND UNRMPLOYED IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY HAVE DEMONSTRATED A TOTAL LACK OF COMMON DECENCY AND HUMAN COMPASSION FOR THOSE IN DIRE NEED IN THIS COUNTRY. THEY HAVE DELIBERATELY USED STALLING TACTICS, AND HAVE MADE EVERY ATTEMPT AT DELAYING THE VOTING PROCESS, FOR THE BILL TO EXPIRE, THEREFORE NOT BE PASSED. WHEN BILLIONS OF TAX PAYER’S DOLLARS HAVE ME APPROVED FOR THE UKRAINE, THEY HAVE DECIDED NOT TO HELP OUR OWN PEOPLE IN OUR OWN COUNTRY

  • http://americansforpetraeus2012.org JohnnyAngel Advocacy Group

    The quicker the GOP loses complete control of the entire state the better. In this way, people can see how leftist/communist policies can totally ruin a state !

  • Jack Everett

    The hispanic and black note will go to the democrat as well as the women’s vote. Republicans have done to much damage to their party with their hate mongering and trying to make women second class citizens.

  • Gary

    Jerry Brown will win easily over any Repulican – even though he still wants high speed rail which terrorists can hardly wait to destroy.

  • YONATAN C

    THE 2.6 MILLION UNEMPLOYED FAMILIES HAVE BECOME THE LOSERS IN THE UNEMPLOYMENT EXTENSION FIASCO. BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES HAVE FAILED THESE FAMILIES MISERABLY. THEY HAVE USED THESE FAMILIES AS BARGAINING CHIPS, AND FOR POLITICAL LEVERAGE, AND HAVE HELD THE EXTENSION BILL “HOSTAGE” IN THE SENATE FOR THE PASSED FIVE MONTHS. BOTH PARTIES HAD NO INTENTION TO PASS THE BILL, BUT JUST GACE LIP SERVICE TO THE PUBLIC AND PRESS. WHILE MILLIONS OF FAMILIES HAVE LOST HOMES AND EVERYTHING, THE POLITICANS NOW CLAIM THAT IT’S TOO LATE TO PASS THE BILL, AND HAVE FORGOTTEN ABOUT IT. IN THE COMING ELECTIONS I HOPE THE AMERICAN PEOPKE DO NOT FORGET AND THAT THEY VOTE THESE POLITICAL PARASITES FROM OFFICE, THEY ARE NOT WORTHY TO REPRESENT US..

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