Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 26, 2014

California: Scott Peters Hits the Road in Tight Race

California: Scott Peters Hits the Road in Tight Race

Scott Peters (center), Democratic candidate for California's 52nd Congressional district, shakes hands with supporters at a pre-canvassing labor rally in San Diego on Saturday. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

SAN DIEGO — Democrat Scott Peters on Saturday rallied more than 400 labor volunteers who were preparing to canvass for voters across the city to support his bid to oust Rep. Brian Bilbray (R) in California’s newly drawn 52nd district and to help Democrats running in other local races.

Before setting out on a chilly (for this city) morning, state Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher (I), who made national headlines earlier this year when he left the GOP during his run for mayor, introduced Peters to the large labor council gathering in a parking lot near Qualcomm Stadium, home of the National Football League’s San Diego Chargers.

With early voting under way in the Golden State, it was part of Peters’ initial push in this Tossup race — one that he participated in as he knocked on doors in the company of Rep. Susan Davis (D-Calif.) to ask voters for their support.

The army of volunteers from a wide array of local labor unions was on its way to knock on doors to urge votes for Rep. Bob Filner (D) for San Diego mayor, for Peters in his campaign against Bilbray and for state Sen. Juan Vargas (D) for Congress, as well as against Proposition 32, which would reportedly have a detrimental effect on the unions’ political fundraising capability.

“It’s been such a pleasure to get to know you all, to work with you, to hear about what’s important to you,” Peters told the crowd. “And I look forward to working for you starting in January in Washington, D.C.”

But that was just the start of his day. Peters later met about a dozen volunteers at his campaign office, where they received canvassing instructions and voter target lists. One of the volunteers was Davis, who lost several parts of her current district to the redrawn 52nd, where Peters and Bilbray are running.

Peters and Davis drove together to Coronado, an island city adjacent to the San Diego coast — and accessible by bridge — that is heavily military and Republican. On the way, they detoured through San Diego’s downtown, marveling at the architecture of the new library and overall topography of this picturesque city by the sea. Coronado is one community that Davis is losing.

The city’s GOP tilt was evident as they worked to push for Democrats to vote early and to persuade independents and swing Republicans. The voter list had them hit only about half a dozen houses on a long block. But one Republican voter who answered a door said she’d vote for a candidate from any party if they committed to fund veteran assistance programs, something Davis was well-versed in as ranking member of the Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.

“I’m walking today with Scott because there is no one better to replace me” representing this area, Davis told the woman.

By all indications, Peters, a port commissioner and former city councilman, is running neck and neck with Bilbray in a district split three ways nearly evenly between Republicans, Democrats and “decline to state” voters. The 52nd is a top target in the state for outside money from both parties, and Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform announced on Friday a $1.6 million ad buy attacking Peters. It began airing Saturday, including during “Saturday Night Live.”

Roll Call rates the race as a Tossup.

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