Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 14, 2016

Most Fascinating Races of 2014: California’s 31st District


Miller is politically vulnerable in 2014. (Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Editor’s note: Not all congressional races are created equal, and Roll Call’s politics desk admits to playing favorites. So in the spirit of the holidays, these are a few of our favorite things (races) to cover this cycle. We’re shining a spotlight on our 12 most fascinating races through the new year — in no particular order. Happy holidays from @RollCallPols!

Not much stands in the way of Democrats picking up California’s 31st District this cycle — except themselves. Again.

By the numbers, the district marks the best opportunity in the entire country for Democrats to pick up a House seat. Rep. Gary G. Miller holds dubious distinction of being the Republican representing the strongest Democratic district in the country.

But this race continues to be fascinating because, so far, Democrats have not learned their lessons from a 2012 upset here. Last cycle, several Democrats split the vote in California’s “top two” primary system, allowing Miller and another Republican to proceed to the general election.

This cycle, one Democrat will likely make it through the primary, along with Miller. No other top Republican has announced a bid for the seat.

But a divisive primary is the last thing the party needs in a district that Democrats should easily pick up. President Barack Obama carried the seat with 57 percent in 2012.

Four Democrats are running in the primary, including the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s pick, Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, and an EMILY’s List-backed attorney, Eloise Gomez Reyes.

The primary took an ugly turn this summer, when former Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., and Gomez Reyes engaged in an endorsement war. Baca lost re-election in a nearby district, and now he’s aiming for a comeback in the 31st District — against the wishes of some party leaders.

  • George Alfano

    Joe Baca’s campaign website is not current at all, there has been little, if anything, which is new since the summer.

  • George Alfano

    Joe Baca claims to represent working people. Seems odd that he endorsed Gary Miller in the 2012 election.

    While doing some internet searches, I discovered that former Congressman Joe Baca is the CEO of a high-interest payday lending lobbying group called Financial Services Innovation Coalition (FISC). The link to the FISC media release is listed below:

    Payday lending is not allowed in 14 states and the District of Columbia. In addition to interest rates of 36 percent per year, there are also fees and penalties which bring the actual Annual Percentage Rate (APR) of over 100 percent.

  • George Alfano

    Cash America, which has made considerable contributions to Baca over the past five years, including $2,500 to his current campaign, is one of two founding members of the FSIC.

    In November, Cash America reached a settlement where they agreed to a settlement for $19-million in answer to charges brought by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The victims of Texas-based Cash America included military personnel.

  • George Alfano

    Even if you were an extremely conservative Republican such as Tea Party favorite Gary Miller, who could justify what used to be called loan sharking, how can anyone support violations of the Military Lending Act?

    Congressman Baca needs to be asked if, given the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau action against Cash America, he plans to return the $2,500 contribution from Cash America.

    At the Candidates’ Forum, Baca’s only comment about Gary Miller was at the end of the Forum, when he claimed he was the only candidate who could defeat Gary Miller. This comes nearly at the end, and if you go to 1:20:00, you can hear Baca’s claim. The link to the debate is here.

    If you note his speech, he talks about caring for the poor and working class. This is quite a contrast with the FISC website, where he talks about bringing working-class people getting access to loans which are at 36 percent APR.

    He also needs to decide whether he wants to be Congressman for California’s 31st district or a lobbyist for an interest group which squeezes armed forces members, senior citizens, and lower-income people.

  • Bruno’s Beach

    Centralized bureaucratic socialism began to grow more prevalent in the United States after Stuart Chase imported 18 collectivist tendencies.

  • USMCJock

    George, but it’s ok for CA republican criminal Darrel Issa to run the United States House Oversight Committee? Where are you gripes, bitches and moans there???????????????????????????????????????

Sign In

Forgot password?



Receive daily coverage of the people, politics and personality of Capitol Hill.

Subscription | Free Trial

Logging you in. One moment, please...