Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

GOP Lawmaker Challenges Freshman for California Seat

GOP state Rep. Jeff Gorell announced on Tuesday that he will challenge freshman Rep. Julia Brownley, D-Calif., in the 26th District — a move that temporarily sets up a GOP primary in one of the state’s more competitive House seats.

Gorell joins former state Sen. Tony Strickland in the contest against Brownley. Last year, the Democrat defeated Strickland by a 6 points — smaller than President Barack Obama’s 10-point victory in the district that same year.

But Gorell’s announcement also fuels speculation about the neighboring 25th District, currently held by longtime Republican Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon.

Many Golden State operatives say McKeon may retire at the end of the 113th Congress and that Strickland would move over and run in the 25th District in that scenario.

Strickland is listed as an early supporter of Gorell’s campaign in his campaign announcement. This raises questions of whether Strickland is considering a move to the 25th District before McKeon makes a decision on his political future. Strickland has previously told local news outlets that if McKeon retires, he would run in the 25th Disrict.

McKeon has not announced whether he will run again in 2014. And Strickland has not commented publicly whether he is suspending his bid in the 26th District, where the National Republican Congressional Committee recently put Strickland “On the Radar.”

“I just think Buck needs to decide what he’s going to do, and I don’t want to add to speculation,” Strickland told a local California news outlet earlier this month. “Obviously, I’m a fan of the chairman. If he were to retire, I would take a look at the seat.”

California’s 26th District is currently rated a Safe Democrat contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.

  • JoeBethersonton

    It doesn’t set up a “GOP primary”. In CA, all candidates run on the same ballot, regardless of party.

  • Ryan

    There’s no other major Democratic candidate: It is, for all intents and purposes, a GOP primary.

  • Michael

    Another correction for the author (also in the first sentence, shamefully enough): California doesn’t have state reps. They have assemblymen and assemblywomen.

  • JoeBethersonton

    True but that’s the generic term for members of state lower houses. I think you can give them a pass for that.

  • Ryan

    Ah – apparently there WON’T be a primary fight. According to Gorell’s press release, he’s going to be announcing endorsements from a large number of local conservatives, Strickland among them, soon.

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