Tag Archives: congress

What does Kevin McCarthy’s Ascension Mean for California? HSR? Immigration?

Kevin McCarthy - CaricaturePotential new majority leader not normally in step with his home state’s leadership

Kevin McCarthy looks all but assured of assuming Eric Cantor’s old job as Majority Leader in the House. Raul Labrador is having troubles controlling his own state’s convention, let alone trying to wrangle votes for leadership, and there don’t appear to be any viable challengers. So, it appears that is just a matter of time until both the Majority and Minority Leaders are Californians.

Now, you might think that awesome for California. We’ll be flush with federal dollars for infrastructure and other development. Well, you may want to hold that thought. McCarthy is a Republican. In 2014. That means he must act like all federal programs are ridiculous and that states are awesome. Except California and our San Francisco values.

As I noted on the budget post below, McCarthy has been on the harshest HSR critics for years now. He does not like the project for a multitude of reasons. The cynical would say that it may have something to do with his overall chumminess with energy companies. And if you look at his energy policy, you won’t find too many disagreements with Big Oil. But if you ask him, it is about funding and protecting the California and federal budgets.

He aimed most of his ire at the bullet train project, which would receive $250 million in the next fiscal year and in subsequent years. The funds are 25% of revenues from the state’s cap-and-trade program, which collects fees on polluters.

“Time and again, the high-speed rail boondoggle has proven to be an unfeasible project that will put undue and damaging pressure on our state budget, ultimately hurting taxpayers,” McCarthy said in a statement. (LAT)

There area a multitude of other issues where he disagrees with a majority of the state. On water, he is hard-core in the agricultural corner, a stalwart for the farmers over fish people. And that isn’t really surprising considering his district. It is a strong GOP district, with Obama not managing to break 40% in either election.

But there are some other dynamics to his district. Check these demographics:

Race: 75.8% White, 6.8% Black, 5.2% Asian, 1.4% American Indian (National Percentages: 72.4% White, 12.6% Black, 4.8% Asian, 0.9% American Indian)

Ethnicity: 64.6% Non-Hispanic, 35.4% Hispanic (National Percentages: 83.6% Non-Hispanic, 16.4% Hispanic) (Politics USA)

McCarthy has never been hard line anti-immigrant. To be honest, it is hard to find a big difference on that front from Cantor. As he has a large farmworker population, and many large agricultural operations that rely on them, he is in a tough position with his more reactionary colleagues when he has support like this:

“There is no reason for Congressman Kevin McCarthy, as leader, not to take leadership on this issue,” said immigration reform activist Arturo Rodriguez, president of United Farm Workers. “Everyone will expect it and demand it. And we will step up all of our activities as a whole.” (CNN)

But McCarthy is a smart man. You don’t move up the ladder as quickly as he has if that wasn’t true. He sees the math, and understand the Republican predicament if they keep turning off Latino voters. In a district like his own, it would be hard to miss.

A few years ago, we thought we would have a great opportunity for reform. Republicans like Cantor and Boehner knew that the party had to change on the issue, or would continue to haunt them. But with Brat’s win over Cantor, will McCarthy continue to press the issue?

“I think his (McCarthy’s) views on immigration are similar to Cantor’s,” said Steven Camarota, director of research for the non-profit Center for Immigration Studies. “But after this week’s results, it seems much less likely he would push it. And even less likely still that he would move his members to push it.” (CNN

But McCarthy is capable of building coalitions, sometimes despite his own party’s reluctance. If he is willing to work with Boehner and Democrats, he could probably muster the votes. The question is how he deals with his own members. It is a question of threading a very, very fine needle. But it is a needle that he, and his party, need to thread. Electorally, Democrats would be better if he didn’t, but clearly comprehensive immigration reform would be the right course for the nation.

But on the plus side, he frequently says funny/incomprehensible things, so there’s that.

California’s 7 Tea Party Die-hards

Seven Republican House members vote no on budget/debt limit compromise

by Brian Leubitz

The Tea Party has many Republicans running scared across the country, with nearly 2/3 of the Republican House caucus voting no on the Senate driven compromise plan. But here in California, the lack of a primary in a Top-2 system insulates much of that right-wing pressure.

But seven Republicans voted no on the compromise anyway.

California Republicans voting “no” were: John Campbell, R-Irvine, Jeff Denham, R-Turlock (Stanislaus County), Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine (San Diego County), Doug LaMalfa, R-Richvale (Butte County), Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove (Sacramento County), Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa (Orange County), and Ed Royce, R-Fullterton (Orange County).(SF Gate and full roll call vote here)

Perhaps you could argue that if the vote was unsure, that some of them may have switched. But the fact is that they voted to gamble with the national and global economies in a fit of picque. It was a gamble that seven other California Republicans weren’t willing to take. Heck, even Darrell Issa voted for the deal.

And some of those Republicans who voted no were just never going to vote yes, like McClintock. But the biggest name that jumps out on me on that list is Jeff Denham who is still in a district with a Democratic registration advantage, and who won by a fairly slim margin in 2012. If Denham draws a well funded challenger, he’ll need to answer for this vote.

But, really, shouldn’t all of these legislators answer for this vote?  

Roll Call Peers Into the Future of California Congress Delegation

Bench is deep for California Democrats

by Brian Leubitz

Congressional seats don’t come up often, and when people get there, they tend to stay. The California Congressional delegation is no different. Except right now, the delegation has several septuagenarians, and as Pete Stark learned, there are always a few people spoiling for a fight. And so Roll Call, a publication that caters to DC insiders, takes a look at some of the potential replacements.

In 2012, an aging delegation mixed with a fresh round of redistricting and a reformed primary process resulted in an extensive new crop of California members of Congress. In all, the largest state in the country elected 14 new House members last cycle, a 26 percent turnover rate in a state known over the past decade for its dearth of competition.

Despite losing one of their own seats last year, Democrats netted four new seats, expanding their delegation majority to 38 of the 53 seats. And with two-thirds of the state legislative seats, there are plenty more Democrats in the pipeline ready to move up at the next opportunity.

They go on to highlight a few legislators and local leaders that are looked on locally as replacement for some of the more senior members of the delegation. Todd Gloria, a San Diego City Councilman, for Rep. Susan Davis. Sen. Mark Leno for Minority Leader Pelosi, Das Williams and Hannah-Beth Jackson for Rep. Lois Capps, and a few more.

But Congressional seats are valuable, and nothing is ever that simple. Many of these races will end up in a tough race for the Top-2, with the possibility of some Dem-on-Dem general elections in the next few election cycles.

Photo credit: Asm. Das Williams from his website.

Congressional Hearings Called For In Hyundai MPG Sticker Scandal

Hyundai

Consumer Watchdog today called upon leaders of the House and Senate Commerce committees to hold hearings into the revelation by the EPA that for the first time in American history large numbers of vehicles carried window stickers with false MPG claims.

The nonprofit consumer group wrote the EPA one year ago calling for retesting of the Hyundai Elantra after Hyundai’s self-tested MPG estimates were far different than many consumers’ experiences.  Earlier this month, just prior to the presidential election, the EPA announced it had revised MPG claims and window stickers on many Hyundai and Kia vehicles. Consumer Watchdog today asked Congressional leaders to delve into whether the misstated mileage estimates were a direct result of a marketing strategy by Hyundai to advertise four of its vehicles, including the Elantra, as “40 Miles Per Gallon” cars.

“Americans deserve to know the whole truth when the fuel economy claims of a large number of vehicles have been misstated by one of the world’s largest automakers for the first time in American history,” wrote Consumer Watchdog president Jamie Court to Senators Jay Rockefeller and Kay Bailey Hutchison of the Senate Commerce Committee and Representatives Fred Upton and Henry Waxman of the House Commerce Committee.

The letter requests that the companies’ chief executive officers be called to testify under oath and that relevant documents be subpoenaed.

The letter, which can be downloaded here, continues:

“One year ago, in response to consumer complaints, Consumer Watchdog sent a letter to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) expressing concerns about the fuel economy MPG (miles per gallon) estimates advertised on the EPA window sticker of the Hyundai Elantra and requesting that the EPA re-test the Elantra.  In January 2012, after it appeared that the EPA would not perform the testing, Consumer Watchdog then called upon the White House to direct the EPA to conduct such an audit.  Earlier this month, on the Friday before the presidential election, the EPA issued a brief press release announcing that it had required Hyundai and Kia to lower MPG estimates and change the window stickers for the Elantra and ‘for the majority of their model year 2012 and 2013 models after EPA testing found discrepancies between agency results and data submitted by the company.’

“According to the EPA announcement, ‘EPA’s audit testing occasionally uncovers individual vehicles whose label values are incorrect and requires that the manufacturer re-label the vehicle. This has happened twice since 2000. This is the first time where a large number of vehicles from the same manufacturer have deviated so significantly.’

“As we wrote to President Obama in January, Hyundai’s deceptive MPG estimates has greatly disadvantaged American automakers, as well as the American taxpayer, whose full faith and credit have financially sustained those companies.

“We call upon you to hold hearings to give the American people more information about the Hyundai-MPG scandal.

“Unbeknownst to most Americans, automakers self-test their vehicles to determine the EPA MPG claim that appears on the EPA-mandated window sticker.  Elantra drivers alerted us to the fact that their MPG experience was very different than the promised ‘EPA’ numbers.”

The “40 Mile Per Gallon Elantra” was the centerpiece of a massive television, print and radio advertising campaign aimed at convincing drivers that they would save money with $4 per gallon gasoline, when in fact drivers were routinely getting ten miles per gallon less than advertised.  Hyundai widely advertised and promoted its four vehicles that received 40 miles per gallon — the Elantra, Sonata Hybrid, Accent and Veloster – but all were reported by the EPA as having falsified MPG estimates on their window stickers.

“We urge you to hold hearings in order to ascertain how Hyundai arrived at its ’40 Mile Per Gallon’ claims and whether the South Korean company’s business strategy led to falsified mileage estimates submitted to the EPA and incorrect window stickers.  The consequence of the incorrect window stickers has been a loss in sales by American car manufacturers whose MPG window stickers have not been found to be false and who played by the rules,” continued the letter.

“We believe the companies’ chief executive officers should be put under oath and documents related to the testing should be subpoenaed in an effort to understand the cause of the false mileage estimates and window stickers.  The false testing that led to the conveniently round “40 mile per gallon” numbers on the window stickers of four vehicles is very likely to have its roots in a marketing decision at the highest levels of the company. Hyundai/Kia drivers and the American people deserve to know the truth and have those involved answer questions on the matter.”

Laura Richardson Reprimanded by House Ethics Committee

Laura Richardson (D- CA)Faces steep battle to stay in Congress

by Brian Leubitz

If we had never seen Top-2 pass, Laura Richardson would be a lame duck right now.  Instead, after a 60-40 “shellacking” at the hands of Janice Hahn in a newly redistricted seat, she has another shot in the November election.  Not a good shot, mind you, but a shot.  But the odds are looking ever dimmer, especially after this bit of news:

Representative Laura Richardson, Democrat of California, has agreed to be reprimanded by the House and pay a $10,000 fine for compelling her Congressional staff members to work on her 2010 campaign.

The House Ethics Committee recommended the punishment in a biting report issued on Wednesday.(NY Times)

Now Richardson hasn’t exactly had a great record with ethics in the past, just check out her tag page here for a few snippets of her history. But an official reprimand will do no help in her November campaign.  

The actual incidents are basically what you would expect from this kind of charge. Richardson assigned her staff to make phone calls on her behalf, or scout her opponent, etc.  And then to compound things, she tried to cover her tracks. The official reports describes this:

In sum, Representative Richardson’s submission continues the approach she has taken in this matter from the outset: an utter absence of true remorse for her misuse of official resources and, equally as significant, for what she has put her staff through, as well as a near total deflection of responsibility for this matter.

From maintaining her property to dealing with foreclosures, Richardson has been something of a “distraction” for the California Democratic delegation. Janice Hahn, for whatever flaws she may have, makes a far better representative of and for the district.

California Congressional District Analysis (May Edition)


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This is my update on my post here http://racesandredistricting.b… that analyzes California’s Congressional races. This post looks at how the races have changed since my January post.

On November 2nd, 2010, California voters passed Proposition 20 allowing a commission composed of 5 Democrats, 5 Republicans and 4 Decline to States to redraw my state’s congressional districts. Previously, the state legislature drew the maps. In the House of Representatives, the representatives represent voters in districts the legislature draws. In recent years though, states such as Washington and California have chosen commissions to draw districts without political influence. In California, the commission traveled around the state to hear public comments from citizens like me and talk to groups such as MALDEF. On June 10th, 2011, the California Redistricting Commission released their first set of maps for California after hearing public comments from meetings such as this one on May 20th that I attended. The guidelines set for the commission were to draw districts that follow the VRA, stick to county boundaries as much as possible and preserve communities of interest. They approved the final maps in mid August. Also, this is the first election year where all California Congressional elections will have a top two primary where all candidates run in the June 5th primary and the top two vote getters advance to the general election on November 6th.

Overall, the Commission’s new Congressional map produces 28 Safe Democratic seats, five Likely Democratic seats, three Lean Democratic seats, four Tossup seats, one lean Republican seat, one Likely Republican seat and 11 Safe Republican seats. This totals to 36 seats expected to vote Democratic with 13 seats expected to vote Republican for Congress, suggesting Democrats could win 2-6 seats under California’s new map.

A few notes: CVAP represents the citizen voting age population.

Here are the maps of the districts drawn in 2002: http://www.govtrack.us/congres…

Here are the maps of the new districts: http://www.mpimaps.com/mapanal…

California’s 1st Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 42%, McCain 53%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 37%, Whitman 53%

Demographics: 12% Hispanic, 79% White

Safe Republican

Rep. Wally Herger (R) recently announced his retirement here. State Senator Doug LaMalfa (R) will probably run here. He should have no trouble winning reelection in this heavily rural and Republican district representing the Sierras and the Central Valley in Northern California.

California’s 2nd Congressional District: Open (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 71%, McCain 25%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 63%, Whitman 30%

Demographics: 17% Hispanic, 73% White

Safe Democratic

This district which represents Marin County and the North Coast is heavily Democratic so it should not elect a Republican. The Democratic Primary though has been extremely competitive. Four Marin County Democrats are running including State Assembly member Jared Huffman (D), Progressive activist Norman Solomon (D), Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams (D), and entrepreneur Stacy Lawson (D). The lone Republican is business owner Dan Roberts (R). Most polls have showed Huffman in the lead with Solomon as the close second. Due to California’s top two primary systems, two Democrats can run against each other in the general election so Solomon is trying to run to the left of Huffman. The strategy seems to be working because most polls show Solomon in 2nd place. Also, Solomon has gained endorsements from progressives such as Raul Griljava (D) from Arizona. The question is how important will these endorsements be in the 2nd district. Huffman has received endorsements from State Attorney General Kamala Harris (D) and three former State Assembly members who represented parts of the 2nd district. As for Adams, her campaign theme of healthy communities and healthy families is appealing but she needs to get more endorsements. Also, for more details on the race for the 2nd district, read my post here: http://racesandredistricting.b…

Update:

Eleven candidates have entered this race now and a new poll shows Jared Huffman with 24% and his closest competitor Stacy Lawson has 9%. Susan Adams is at 5% and so are the Republican candidates. Stacy Lawson actually out raised Huffman during the most recent quarter. Due to California’s top two primary system, a Democrat vs. Democrat race is very likely. Also, Stacy Lawson has been rising in the polls due to her extensive ads where she talks about bringing jobs to the middle class. She has also raised more money than Huffman during the 1st Quarter of 2012 and is a rich businesswoman. I was in Humboldt County in late April and her ads were everywhere on the radio while I did not hear many of them on the Marin radio. This suggests Stacy Lawson is trying to win over more working class voters in Humboldt County to offset Jared Huffman’s margins in Marin County where he is well known and his environmental views are popular. There are many environmentalists in Humboldt County too so Jared Huffman needs to highlight his environmental views. As for Stacy Lawson, she is a strong pro business Democrat similar to former Rep. Ellen Tauscher (D) from the Walnut Creek area. Stacy Lawson would play well in that area if she ran there but the North Coast district may not match her views enough for her to win. As for Solomon, he is actually starting to raise money and has received endorsements from Rep. Raul Griljava (D), Rep. John Conyers (D) and actor Sean Penn who used to live in the 2nd district (I went to his daughter’s high school actually.)

California’s 3rd Congressional District: John Garamendi (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 55%, McCain 42%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 50%, Whitman 43%

Demographics: 28% Hispanic, 10% Asian, 51% White

Lean Democratic

Garamendi used to represent inland Contra Costa County as well as Fairfield in Solano County but his district is now more Republican with the addition of Sutter, Yuba, Colusa and Glenn Counties. Although Obama and Brown still won the district, the Republican areas in the district’s northern part make the district competitive. The Republican field consists of Sutter County District Attorney Tony Carlos (R) and Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann (R). Carlos will be a strong candidate in the general election because of his moderate views on immigration in a district where Hispanics are 16% of the CVAP (Citizen Voting Age population.) He can make inroads among the Hispanic voters in Solano County where Garamendi needs to win large margins in order to win. Carlos may be too moderate for voters in the primary because the Republican electorate in the 3rd district is very conservative. As for Vann, most pundits consider her the frontrunner. I see Garamendi winning though because Vann’s primary campaign theme is agricultural issues. Those issues are important to voters in the northern part of the district but if Vann wants to win, she needs to make inroads in Solano County and agriculture is less important there. Also, Obama’s presence on the ticket should increase turnout in Yolo County where Garamendi needs a strong turnout to win.

Update:

I drove through the northern part of the 3rd district recently too and I saw many signs for Vann but a few Garamendi signs too. Most polls show Vann going into the top two race. Right now, I am going to say Garamendi wins because although 55% Obama is not enough for a safe Democratic district and Garamendi only has $225,000 on hand to Vann’s $217,000, Garamendi is popular with agriculture voters who live in the more Republican parts of the district so he can make introads there. Just recently for example, he passed a flood insurance bill which is popular with farmers. Also,Vann is from Colusa County, a rural area in part of the district. She therefore may not understand suburban Solano County’s issues very well and be unable to cut into Garamendi’s margins there (Garamendi needs a big win in Solano County in order to win districtwide.) Also, with Obama on the ballot in 2012, Davis should turn out strongly for him. I am keeping the race at Lean Democratic due to the near tie in cash but Garamendi definitely has a lead.

California’s 4th Congressional District: Tom McClintock (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 43%, McCain 54%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 37%, Whitman 55%

Demographics: 12% Hispanic, 78% White

Safe Republican

McClintock gains new territory in the Central Sierras but the new territory is rural and Republican like the rest of his district. He should have no trouble winning reelection here.

California’s 5th Congressional District: Mike Thompson (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 70%, McCain 26%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 63%, Whitman 31%

Demographics: 26% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 53% White

Safe Democratic

Thompson faces unfamiliar territory by gaining Santa Rosa and the Martinez area. Although Rep. George Miller (D) lives in Martinez, he should run in the nearby district containing Richmond and Concord. Thompson should be safe from a primary challenge though and the 70% Obama number should ensure his reelection against a Republican.

California’s 6th Congressional District: Doris Matsui (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 68%, McCain 29%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 66%, Whitman 28%

Demographics: 13% African American, 27% Hispanic, 15% Asian, 39% White

Safe Democratic

Matsui’s district remains similar to its current form. It is still heavily Democratic and safe for her.

California’s 7th Congressional District: Dan Lungren (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 51%, McCain 46%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 49%, Whitman 44%

Demographics: 8% African American, 14% Asian, 16% Hispanic, 57% White

Lean Democratic

In its 2006 edition, the Almanac of American Politics called Lungren’s district safely Republican but in the last few years, the district’s demographics have changed as the Sacramento suburbs have trended Democratic quickly. The Democrats gained a State Assembly seat in the Sacramento suburbs in 2010 and Democratic candidate Dr. Ami Bera (D) came within seven points of unseating Lungren in 2010, a heavily Republican year. Across the state, Jerry Brown (D) underperformed Obama statewide but in the Sacramento suburbs, he matched Obama’s percentages. Also, Democrats gained a State Assembly seat in the Sacramento suburbs in 2010 (the only State Assembly seat to change hands that year,) further evidence the area is trending Democratic. The commission also decreased McCain’s percentage in Lungren’s district from 49% to 46%. This race should be very competitive because Bera is running again and he is a strong fundraiser (he outraised Lungren in 2010.) Also, 2012 should be more favorable to the Democrats than 2010 was.

Update:

At first, I thought that this race would be close but Bera would eventually win by 5 points. Lungren though has started fighting back and although Bera still leads with $1,148,000 cash on hand, Lungren is not too far away with $900,000 cash on hand. In 2010, Bera may have slipped by with fundraising because national politicians did not consider Lungren’s district to be competitive. After Lungren’s surprisingly narrow victory in 2010 though, national politicians are becoming interested in this race and will probably spend money here. Lungren though recently hired Monica Harris for voter registration drives. She has been convicted for voter fraud with registering voters. Jill LaVine who works in the office of Sacramento’s Registrar of voters also said that people reported having their registration changed to Republican without their consent. As for the race, I am going to keep it at Lean Democratic, mostly due to the Sacramento suburbs’ Democratic trend and Bera’s campaigning skills. Lungren though is proving he is fighting to save his seat so he may turn the tables.

California’s 8th Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 42%, McCain 55%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 36%, Whitman 52%

Demographics: 8% African American, 35% Hispanic, 50% White

Safe Republican

The 42% Obama percentage makes this district too Republican to elect a Democrat in the foreseeable future so the Republican primary will be the important contest in this race. Candidates for the 8th district include Victorville city councilwoman Angela Valles (R), Victorville mayor Ryan McEachron (R) and Hesperia city councilman Bill Jensen (R). Jensen plans to run on the tea party platform while Eachron seems to have a more moderate platform. He does not mention the tea party once on his website. Although the 8th district’s Republicans are mostly conservative, the conservative candidates could split the vote, allowing McEachron to consolidate the less conservative Republicans and win the nomination.

Update:

Assembly Paul Cook (R) and Brad Mitzelfelt (R) have jumped into the race too. Cook has received many local endorsements while Mitzelfelt has been successful at raising money. McEachron now has a rockier path to the nomination but with all these strong Republicans running, it is possible they can split the vote enough to allow a Democrat to enter the top two primary (but the district is too Republican to elect a Democrat.)

California’s 9th Congressional District: Jerry McNerney (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 56%, McCain 41%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 51%, Whitman 42%

Demographics: 9% African American, 14% Asian, 37% Hispanic, 37% White

Hispanic CVAP: 23%

Likely Democratic

McNerney has consistently faced close elections in the current 11th district which voted for Obama by nine points. In the 9th district though, Obama won by 15 points so McNerney will be much safer here. The district becomes more Democratic because it gains heavily Democratic neighborhoods in Stockton and Antioch. 24 year old law student Ricky Gill (R) plans to challenge McNerney and has already raised $800,000. McNerney though has defeated tough candidates before, including former House Resources Chairman Richard Pombo (R) in a less Democratic district. Also, 2012 should not be a Republican year so McNerney should probably win although I expect the DCCC to spend money here.

Update:

Gill has consistently been outraising McNerney so this race is worth watching. Still though, McNerney faces a safer district that even Whitman could not win (she won McNerney’s district from 2010 though,) and it depends on whether the independent voters will be willing to vote for a 24 year old without any political or business experience besides going to law school (which a large number of our congressional representatives have done.) McNerney is a strong campaigner so I expect him to win but I am moving this race to Lean Democratic.

Lean Democratic

California’s 10th Congressional District: Jeff Denham (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 50%, McCain 47%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 43%, Whitman 49%

Demographics: 40% Hispanic, 46% White

Hispanic CVAP: 25%

Lean Republican

The 10th district represents southern San Joaquin County which is split between Republican leaning Manteca and Democratic leaning Tracy. The 10th district then represents all of Republican leaning Stanislaus County. Also, Rep. Jeff Denham (R) from the current 19th district which voted 46% for Obama, compared to the 10th district’s 50% Obama, plans to run here. Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D) who represents part of the 10th district then decided to retire. Denham though is experienced with tough races because he consistently won the 12th State Senate District although Obama won 59% there and even Kerry won the district. The Democrats recruited a strong candidate though, Astronaut Jose Hernandez (D) who the DCCC is strongly supporting.

Update:

I originally wrote this race off, thinking that the 50% Obama number in this district was too low to elect a Democrat but Hernandez is running a strong campaign. He outraised Denham in the last quarter although Denham still has the upper hand in cash. The DCCC will definitely spend money here to help their preferred candidate. The Republicans also tried to prevent Hernandez from mentioning his occupation as astronaut on the June 5th top two primary ballot because he left NASA in 2011. A judge rejected the Republican challenge. In response to the Republicans, Hernandez then released this video http://politicalwire.com/archi… which I highly recommend. This shows his campaign skills and suggests he can run a strong race against Denham.

I am therefore going to tentatively move this race to Tossup but it could shift back to lean Republican.

California’s 11th Congressional District: George Miller (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 69%, McCain 28%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 61%, Whitman 33%

Demographics: 9% African American, 13% Asian, 26% Hispanic, 52% White

Safe Democratic

George Miller should have no trouble winning this heavily Democratic district representing Richmond and central Contra Costa County.

California’s 12th Congressional District: Nancy Pelosi (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 84%, McCain 13%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 78%, Whitman 16%

Demographics: 6% African American, 31% Asian, 15% Hispanic, 44% White

Safe Democratic

Besides gaining part of the Sunset District, Pelosi’s district does not change. It remains located in heavily Democratic San Francisco.

California’s 13th Congressional District: Barbara Lee (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 87%, McCain 10%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 84%, Whitman 11%

Demographics: 20% African American, 21% Asian, 21% Hispanic, 34% White

Safe Democratic

Lee’s district gains Alameda and San Leandro. Besides these changes, her district remains the same. It is still one of California’s most Democratic districts.

California’s 14th Congressional District: Jackie Speier (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 73%, McCain 24%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 66%, Whitman 28%

Demographics: 31% Asian, 24% Hispanic, 37% White

Safe Democratic

Speier’s district does not undergo major changes. It retains most of San Mateo County and remains heavily Democratic.

California’s 15th Congressional District: Pete Stark (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 67%, McCain 30%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 59%, Whitman 35%

Demographics: 7% African American, 27% Asian, 23% Hispanic, 37% White

Safe Democratic

Stark gains San Ramon and Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore and these changes make his district a bit more Republican. He may face a primary challenge from Rohit Khanna (D) who is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Commerce Department and raised $1.2 million for a possible race. If he runs for Stark’s seat, he could make the primary very close.

Update:

Stark is indeed facing a tough challenge. Khanna declined running but Dublin City Councilmember Eric Swalwell (D) decided to challenge Stark. As a representative since 1972, Stark should have had an easy race but Swalwell’s campaign skills are making this a tough  race.  Swalwell has recently received the endorsements of the Contra Costa times, the Hayward Daily review and the San Francisco Chronicle. The first sentence of the Chronicle’s endorsement is, “Pete Stark should have retired by now.” Stark though has received endorsements from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) and the California Teachers Association. When Stark first ran for Congress in 1972, he criticized the incumbent as being old and out of touch with the district’s voters. That is 31 year old Swalwell’s theme as he criticizes Stark for accusing Swalwell of bribery without any supporting evidence and accusing conservative leaning SF Chronicle Reporter Debra Saunders for contributing to Swalwell’s campaign. Swalwell is highlighting other gaffes of Stark’s which include calling a female Republican U.S House member a “wh*re” and calling a male Republican U.S House member “a little wimp.” Swalwell has less money but he may be able to win by winning big margins in the Dublin/Pleasanton/Livermore areas recently added to the district and peeling away support in Stark’s old district’s territory by highlighting Stark’s disconnect with the district. No Republican is running so expect both Democrats to advance to the top two and have this fight continue to November.

Safe Democratic, Lean Stark

California’s 16th Congressional District: Jim Costa (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 57%, McCain 40%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 49%, Whitman 41%

Demographics: 9% Asian, 58% Hispanic, 25% White

Hispanic CVAP: 41% Hispanic

Likely Democratic

Costa’s district moves north as it retains Democratic parts of Fresno and gains Madera and Merced Counties. Merced County is a swing county but Madera County is Republican but trending Democratic. Although Costa faced a tough reelection in 2010, he should win during more neutral years in this district. In 2010, Costa had a close race due to Republican margins in Kings County but Kings County is no longer in his district so Costa has a stronger chance to win.

Update: Costa looks like he will cruise to reelection easily, barring any major scandals or gaffes. Brian Whelan (R), the likely GOP nominee has a warchest of only $106,000 and for a Republican to win in this Democratic leaning district, he or she needs to outraise the Democrat. Costa should have no trouble here.

Likely Democratic

California’s 17th Congressional District: Mike Honda (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 69%, McCain 28%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 61%, Whitman 33%

Demographics: 49% Asian, 17% Hispanic, 27% White

Safe Democratic

Honda’s district almost becomes an Asian majority district and if population trends continue, the district should become Asian majority. Honda remains safe from a Republican challenge. Although Honda does not live in this district, I expect him to run here because this district contains most of his current district.

California’s 18th Congressional District: Anna Eshoo (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 70%, McCain 27%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 60%, Whitman 35%

Demographics: 19% Asian, 17% Hispanic, 58% White

Safe Democratic

Eshoo’s district does not change much and remains heavily Democratic.

California’s 19th Congressional District: Zoe Lofgren (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 68%, McCain 29%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 60%, Whitman 33%

Demographics: 26% Asian, 41% Hispanic, 27% White

Hispanic CVAP: 29%

Safe Democratic

Lofgren’s district gains Morgan Hill but besides this change, her district retains most of its current lines and remains Democratic.

California’s 20th Congressional District: Sam Farr (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 71%, McCain 26%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 63%, Whitman 31%

Demographics: 51% Hispanic, 39% White

Hispanic CVAP: 28%

Safe Democratic

Farr’s district does not make major changes. It gains some precincts in Santa Cruz and Santa Clara Counties but remains anchored in Central California and is heavily Democratic.

California’s 21st Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 51%, McCain 46%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 47%, Whitman 44%

Demographics: 71% Hispanic, 19% White

Hispanic CVAP: 49%

Tossup

The 21st district represents heavily Hispanic areas in the southern Central Valley. It contains large portions of Costa’s current district but Costa decided to run in the new 16th district so the 21st district lacks an incumbent. Although the district has a high Hispanic population, the Hispanic turnout is usually low so the district is a swing district. It is trending Democratic though because despite underperforming Obama throughout the state, Brown nearly equaled Obama’s performance in the 21st district. The Republicans have a strong candidate for the 21st district though. State Assembly member David Valadao (R) is running and he easily beat Fran Florez (D) for the State Assembly seat. State Assembly member Michael Rubio (D) originally planned to run but he left the race. Democrats hope Florez’s son, former State Senate Majority Leader Dean Florez (D) decides to run.

Update:

The Democrats have found a candidate, Blong Xiong (D), a Hmong city councilmember from Fresno. At first, I was worried he would not be a strong candidate because he did not even live in the 21st district but he has proven to be a strong fundraiser by raising money from the Hmong community. Although Valadao still has a slight lead, Xiong can make it very close.

Tossup

California’s 22nd Congressional District: Devin Nunes (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 42%, McCain 55%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 35%, Whitman 59%

Demographics: 7% Asian, 45% Hispanic, 42% White

Hispanic CVAP: 30%

Safe Republican

Nunes’s district becomes smaller but remains heavily Republican and centered around Tulare County and conservative Fresno suburbs.

California’s 23rd Congressional District: Kevin McCarthy (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 36%, McCain 61%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 33%, Whitman 58%

Demographics: 36% Hispanic, 51% White

Hispanic CVAP: 23%

Safe Republican

McCarthy’s district loses all of its San Luis Obispo County territory and becomes more centered around Kern and Tulare Counties. The district remains heavily Republican and is McCain’s best district in California.

California’s 24th Congressional District: Lois Capps (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 56%, McCain 41%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 46%, Whitman 46%

Demographics: 34% Hispanic, 57% White

Lean Democratic

Before 2002, Capps ran in a district with similar lines to the 24th and faced competitive races. In 2002, she received a safer district and won easily in 2002, 2004, 2006, 2008 and 2010. The district’s new lines though remove heavily Democratic Oxnard while adding the conservative interiors of Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties. I lived in Santa Barbara for a few years so I realized how Santa Barbara County seems to be a small version of California. It has beach communities, agricultural based communities, upscale liberals, county club Republicans, college liberals, heavily Hispanic communities, and conservative inland communities. Like California, Santa Barbara County has trended Democratic. Gore won by only a few points but Obama won 60% of the vote there. San Luis Obispo County in the northern part of the district has trended Democratic too. Santa Barbara County swung toward the Republicans though in 2010 because turnout in UCSB was low. If Capps wants to win in 2012, she needs to increase turnout there. Her challenger is former Lieutenant Governor Abel Maldonado (R) who is a moderate. Capps is a strong campaigner and has survived tough challenges in the 90s when the district was less Democratic. Being named the “nicest member of Congress” by the Washingtonian magazine does not hurt her chances either.

Update:

In recent months, Capps’ election prospects have greatly increased. Although Maldonado may be popular with voters in the San Luis Obispo part of the district, he does not seem popular in fundraising circles. Right before the end of each fundraising quarter, he loaned his campaign $250,000. Capps leads the fundraising race with $1,322,000 to Maldonado’s $492,000. This is helpful for Capps because Maldonado is facing a challenge from tea party candidate Chris Mitchum (R). As someone who lived in Santa Barbara for a few years, I became pretty familiar with the voting patterns of the area and besides having a few moderates in Montecito and other parts of Santa Barbara, the rest of the county is extremely conservative and parts feel like Texas. If the top two system did not exist, Maldonado would probably loose because he could not win enough Republicans in the primary but Maldonado could advance to the top two by winning over independents. If Mitchum wants to win though, he needs to step up his fundraising game, he has only $114,000 on hand. Even if he does not win, he will force Maldonado to spend money against him, further depleting Maldonado’s money so Capps can have an easier time outspending him during the general.

Status: Likely Democratic

California’s 25th Congressional District: Buck McKeon (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 49%, McCain 48%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 39%, Whitman 52%

Demographics: 8% African American, 8% Asian, 35% Hispanic, 46% White

Safe Republican

Although Lancaster and Palmdale are trending Democratic quickly, Simi Valley, Santa Clarita and McKeon’s popularity will keep this district safely in the Republican column.

California’s 26th Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 56%, McCain 41%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 46%, Whitman 47%

Demographics: 6% Asian, 43% Hispanic, 46% White

Hispanic CVAP: 26%

Lean Democratic

Gallegly recently announced his retirement which makes this race easier for Democrats. His district became more Democratic with the addition of Oxnard and his home of Simi Valley was placed in Buck McKeon’s (R) district. There are already five Democrats running though. They include Moorpark City Councilman David Pollock (D), retired longshoreman Zeke Ruelas, Oxnard Harbor District President Jess Herrera (D), Westlake Village Businessman David Cruz (D) and Ventura County Supervisor Steve Bennett (D). Bennett represents Democratic leaning Ventura City as a Supervisor, is popular and well known throughout the district. Cruz and Herrera though are getting support from Hispanic groups and should win support from the district’s large Hispanic population in the primary. Pollock is from Republican leaning Moorpark so if he wins the nomination, he could make inroads there. Most pundits agree though that Bennett is the frontrunner in the primary. On the Republican side, Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks (R) from Thousand Oaks has announced. Other potential candidates include State Senator Tony Strickland (R), and Moorpark City Councilman Keith Millhouse (R). Parks should do well with moderate Republicans while Strickland appeals to the district’s more conservative voters.

Update:

So much has changed in the race since I last posted about it. Linda Parks (I) has changed her party affiliation to independent and Steve Bennett (D) has dropped out of the race, worrying the three Democrats in the race would split the field and prevent a clear winner. It looked possible Strickland would face a weak Democrat in the general election until Assmblywoman Julia Browley (D) declared her candidacy for the 26th district. She has raised the most money of the Democrats although it is not as much as Strickland’s $782,000. Parks though has only raised $119,000 and had a strange ad where she randomly said, “My favorite ice cream is rocky road.” It does not make sense to me why she said that. Brownley though received endorsements from Senators Barbara Boxer (D) and Dianne Feinstein (D) and Brownley is getting a boost from EMILY’s List who is sending out a mailer telling Democrats to vote for her. Expect this race to be very close to this finish line.

Status: Tossup

California’s 27th Congressional District: Judy Chu (D) vs. David Dreier (R)?

Presidential Data: Obama 61%, McCain 35%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 55%, Whitman 39%

Demographics: 37% Asian, 27% Hispanic, 29% White

Safe Democratic, Likely Democratic if Dreier runs

The 27th district is a combination of Chu’s and Dreier’s districts while representing foothill communities currently in Dreier’s district and heavily Asian areas such as Monterey Park in Chu’s current district. Although Dreier is moderate and popular, the 61% Obama number should be high enough to protect Chu. Also, she is a very strong campaigner and a popular incumbent.

Update:

Dreier decided not to challenge Chu for this seat. Therefore, Chu will have no challenge winning reelection.

Status: Safe Democratic

California’s 28th Congressional District: Adam Schiff (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 70%, McCain 26%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 63%, Whitman 30%

Demographics: 14% Asian, 26% Hispanic, 55% White

Safe Democratic

Schiff’s district loses Pasadena and gains West Hollywood. His district remains heavily Democratic.

California’s 29th Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 74%, McCain 23%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 68%, Whitman 24%

Demographics: 8% Asian, 69% Hispanic, 18% White

Safe Democratic

The commission created this new district as a Hispanic majority district in the San Fernando Valley. Although the district contains territory from both Reps. Howard Berman’s (D) and Brad Sherman’s (D) districts, they both decided not to run here (see California’s 30th Congressional district.) The frontrunner for the 29th district is Los Angeles City Councilman Tony Cardenas (D). He has received support from important political figures such as California’s Assembly Speaker John Perez (D) and Rep. Howard Berman.

Update:

Cardenas is facing no serious opposition so he should win the seat easily.

California’s 30th Congressional District: Howard Berman (D) vs. Brad Sherman (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 66%, McCain 31%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 57%, Whitman 36%

Demographics: 12% Asian, 27% Hispanic, 53% White

Safe Democratic

The commission combined the homes of Reps. Berman and Sherman so there will be a contentious primary in this district. Some pundits have suggested that Sherman should run in the open 26th district in Ventura County in order to avoid a possible primary loss in the 30th district. Although no polls have been released for the primary, Berman has gained many endorsements, with 23 representatives endorsing him compared to two for Sherman (Reps. Judy Chu (D) and Grace Napolitano (D).) It is unclear how many voters will be swayed by all the endorsements. This does not indicate Sherman will lose though. He received the endorsement of Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom (D), State Controller John Chiang (D), former President Bill Clinton (D) and has raised $3.7 million, more than Berman’s $2.2 million but Berman is raising money quickly. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D) hosted a large fundraiser for Berman recently. This primary will be very close and could attract national attention.

Update:

This race is shaping up to be one of the biggest Dem vs. Dem battles in California. Although Sherman represents 58% of the district, he is still facing Berman who has the high profile endorsements. An April poll showed Sherman ahead 40%-17% with a Republican Tom Reed at 12%. Berman has not released an internal poll showing him ahead and has not released an internal poll at all. Due to California’s top two system though, it is possible both Democrats will enter the top two primary so Berman will have more time to raise money and overcome Sherman’s 4 million to 2.4 million dollar cash advantage. Sherman has been saving his money though, suggesting he believes Berman and him will enter the top two primary. Expect this race to drag on to November.

Status: Safe Democratic

California’s 31st Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 56%, McCain 41%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 49%, Whitman 41%

Demographics: 12% African American, 7% Asian, 49% Hispanic, 30% White

Hispanic CVAP: 35%

Lean Democratic

This district represents Republican leaning Rancho Cucamonga and Democratic leaning San Bernardino and Colton. The district as a whole leans Democratic and is trending Democratic as Hispanics continue to move into the district. Although Lewis lives in the new 31st district, he does not represent much territory in it and he may decide to either retire or run in the more conservative 8th district. Rep. Jerry Lewis (R) lives in this district but recently announced his retirement. Rep. Gary Miller (R) who represented eastern Orange County and Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County plans to run here instead.  Anyway, Rep. Joe Baca (D) lives in this district but decided to run in the more Democratic 35th district so the Democratic field is open here. Two Democratic candidates, Renea Wickman (D) and Russ Warner (D) have announced plans to run. Wickman is a community activist working with youth and ran unsuccessfully in 2010 for the 63rd Assembly district. Warner is a businessman from Rancho Cucamonga who is more moderate than Wickman is, especially on issues such as immigration. This could be difficult for him in this district with a large Hispanic population. The frontrunner though is Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D) who recently announced his candidacy.

Update:

Miller is winning the fundraising war, already raising $1,170,000. Pete Aguilar (D) has only raised $222,000 but the Democratic lean should probably be enough to push him over the top. The fact that Miller is not well known in the area should help Aguilar as well as Miller’s ethics issues. Miller also faces a primary challenge now from Republican State Senator Bob Dutton (R) but Dutton’s fundraising is far below Miller’s and Dutton has received few endorsements so it is unlikely Dutton should advance to the top two. Overall, the district’s Democratic lean and trend should push Aguilar over the top but Miller can make it close.

Lean Democratic

California’s 32nd Congressional District: Grace Napolitano (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 62%, McCain 35%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 57%, Whitman 35%

Demographics: 15% Asian, 63% Hispanic, 18% White

Safe Democratic

Napolitano’s district loses her home but I expect her to run here because it contains most of her current district. Dreier’s home is here so he may run here but I doubt he would win in a 62% Obama district.

Update:

Dreier does not plan to run here so Napolitano should have an easy race.

California’s 33rd Congressional District: Henry Waxman (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 64%, McCain 33%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 55%, Whitman 40%

Demographics: 13% Asian, 11% Hispanic, 69% White

Safe Democratic

Waxman’s district gains large portions of the current 36th district along the coast. It remains heavily Democratic and upscale.

California’s 34th Congressional District: Xavier Beccara (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 77%, McCain 19%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 76%, Whitman 16%

Demographics: 20% Asian, 65% Hispanic, 9% White

Safe Democratic

Beccara’s district does not undergo major changes. It remains heavily Hispanic and Democratic.

California’s 35th Congressional District: Joe Baca (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 64%, McCain 32%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 57%, Whitman 33%

Demographics: 7% African American, 69% Hispanic, 16% White

Hispanic CVAP: 52%

Safe Democratic

This district should be too Democratic to elect a Republican representative but the Democratic primary will be close. Rep. Joe Baca (D) who represented parts of the district plans to run here and so does State Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod (D). Both representatives are popular and McLeod defeated Baca’s son in her 2006 State Senate primary.

Update:

When this district was drawn, McLeod announced, “I’m in I’m in!” She may be in but it does not look like she will win. Baca has outraised her 2-1 and he represents 61% of the district so most of the district’s residents are familiar with him already. Also, McLeod does not have many endorsements while Baca does. Although McLeod is well known in the district, it may not be enough for her to beat Baca.

Safe Democratic

California’s 36th Congressional District: Mary Bono Mack (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 50%, McCain 47%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 43%, Whitman 49%

Demographics: 47% Hispanic, 44% White

Hispanic CVAP: 27%

Lean Republican

The district voted for Obama and is trending Democratic but Bono Mack is a very popular representative and is moderate. Also, openly gay Palm Springs mayor Steve Pougent (D) has not made plans to run for the seat although he would be a strong candidate. He ran in 2010 and performed well against Bono Mack. The Democrats found a candidate to challenge Bono Mack though. Dr. Raul Ruiz (D), a physician has announced his candidacy and he is the first Hispanic candidate to challenge Bono Mack for her seat in a district with a large and fast growing Hispanic population. Bono Mack’s moderate positions and popularity make her formidable though.

Update:

Ruiz has been a great fundraiser, outraising Bono-Mack last quarter although Bono-Mack still retains the COH advantage by nearly 2-1. Still though, the COH advantage may matter less now that the DCCC has taken interest in this race. Ruiz is a strong candidate and if the DCCC support can boost him up in this district, Democrats could have a strong shot at winning.

Lean Republican

California’s 37th Congressional District: Karen Bass (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 84%, McCain 13%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 79%, McCain 15%

Demographics: 25% African American, 9% Asian, 39% Hispanic, 24% White

African American CVAP: 34%, Hispanic CVAP, 21%

Safe Democratic

Bass retains most of her current territory and represents heavily Democratic areas with a large African American CVAP. She should be safe here.

California’s 38th Congressional District: Linda Sanchez (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 61%, McCain 35%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 57%, Whitman 35%

Demographics: 14% Asian, 61% Hispanic, 19% White

Hispanic CVAP: 51%

Safe Democratic

Although this district is too Democratic to elect a Republican representative, there will be a competitive primary here. State Senator Ron Calderon (D) is challenging Sanchez here. Although Sanchez is a popular representative, she has represented only a small part of the district while she is unfamiliar with the voters in the Montebello area where Calderon lives. She needs to introduce herself to voters in that area. I expect she will receive support from other congressional representatives though so she may win.

Update:

Calderon decided not to run. Sanchez has a clear field.

Safe Democratic

California’s 39th Congressional District: Ed Royce (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 47%, McCain 49%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 38%, Whitman 54%

Demographics: 29% Asian, 33% Hispanic, 34% White

Safe Republican

Although this district may be trending Democratic because Democratic voters are moving into it, this district remains Republican at a local level. Reps. Miller and Royce were both drawn into the district but Miller decided to run in CA-31 instead so Royce has the field to himself.

Update:

School Board member Jay Chen (D) is running here and is a strong candidate but the district’s strong Republican lean at a local level (and statewide too, Whitman won here by 16 points,) should prevent Chen from becoming competitive. Later in the decade though, Democrats may have a real shot at winning this district.

Safe Republican

California’s 40th Congressional District: Lucille Roybal Allard (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 77%, McCain 19%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 73%, Whitman 19%

Demographics: 6% African American, 86% Hispanic, 5% White

Hispanic CVAP: 73%

Safe Democratic

Allard’s district becomes the most heavily Hispanic district in the country with an 86% Hispanic population. It also remains heavily Democratic.

California’s 41st Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 59%, McCain 38%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 52%, Whitman 40%

Demographics: 10% African American, 6% Asian, 56% Hispanic, 26% White

Hispanic CVAP: 37%

Likely Democratic

The commission created this new Hispanic majority district combining communities of interest in northern Riverside County. The district also voted for Obama and Brown by double digit margins so Democrats have an advantage here. The Democrat running is openly gay Riverside Community College School Board Member Mark Takano (D). Takano ran for this seat under similar lines in 1992 and lost by 550 votes when the area was less Democratic. Riverside County Supervisor John Taviglione (R) who represents most of the district is challenging Takano. Although Taviglione is popular and well known, the 59% Obama number in this Democratic trending district and Takano’s campaign skills may be too high for him to overcome.

Update:

The candidates are nearly tied in fundraising from last quarter. The DCCC has been working hard though to help Takano which increases the Democrats’ chances of winning here.

Likely Democratic

California’s 42nd Congressional District: Ken Calvert (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 43%, McCain 54%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 35%, Whitman 56%

Demographics: 9% Asian, 36% Hispanic, 47% White

Safe Republican

In 2008, Calvert faced a tough race not only because of his ethics problems but also because the district was trending Democratic quickly and voted for Obama. In this new map though, Calvert is much safer by losing Democratic Riverside and gaining more Republican parts of Riverside County.

California’s 43rd Congressional District: Maxine Waters (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 75%, McCain 22%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 69%, Whitman 24%

Demographics: 24% African American, 12% Asian, 46% Hispanic, 15% White

African American CVAP 33%, Hispanic CVAP 29%

Safe Democratic

Waters’s district remains heavily Democratic but the Hispanic CVAP is increasing and is almost as high as the African American CVAP. This creates the possibility of a Hispanic candidate challenging Waters in the primary and winning due to support from Hispanics. Waters’s ethics problems though create an even larger opening for a primary challenger too.

Update:

No strong Democrat has emerged to challenge Waters so she will remain for at least another two years in Congress.

Safe Democratic

California’s 44th Congressional District: Laura Richardson (D) vs. Janice Hahn (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 81%, McCain 15%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 77%, Whitman 15%

Demographics: 17% African American, 68% Hispanic, 7% White

African American CVAP 28%, Hispanic CVAP 49%

Safe Democratic

This district will see a tight primary race for the Democrats. Only a small portion of Hahn’s district is in the new 44th but Hahn has a strong shot at winning not only because she is popular with the district’s many working class voters but also because Richardson has ethics problems. Hahn is a former city councilmember from Los Angeles and represented large portions of the district in the city council. A poll showed her leading Richardson 47-26 but the poll was conducted in August so it may be outdated.

Update:

Hahn recently received the endorsement of the California Labor Federation which is important in this district with a strong union presence. Also, she’s been endorsed by the California Democratic Party and is even making inroads among the district’s African American community, although Richardson is African American. Hahn also outraised Richardson more than 2-1 last quarter. Due to the top two system, this race should continue to November but the June primary will show where the candidates stand in the polls.

Safe Democratic

California’s 45th Congressional District: John Campbell (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 46%, McCain 51%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 34%, Whitman 59%

Demographics: 21% Asian, 18% Hispanic, 56% White

Safe Republican

Campbell’s district loses territory on the Orange County coast and gains more conservative towns inland such as Lake Forest. Although Irvine is Democratic leaning, the rest of the district leans Republican and should keep this district strongly in the Republican column.

Update:

The Democratic mayor of Irvine Suhkee Kang (D) will challenge Campbell. Irvine makes up more than 25% of the district so Kang is well known to many voters in the district. Campbell though will be a hard incumbent to defeat because he has raised over $1 million. Also, the district may have been close on the Presidential level but on the statewide 2010 Gubernatorial race, Whitman won this district by 25 points which shows this district still votes heavily Republican at a local level. At the end of the decade though, a strong candidate like Kang could run a very competitive race. Since Kang is a strong candidate, I am moving the ranking to Likely Republican.

Likely Republican

California’s 46th Congressional District: Loretta Sanchez (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 58%, McCain 39%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 50%, Whitman 40%

Demographics: 12% Asian, 67% Hispanic, 18% White

Safe Democratic

Sanchez’s district remains similar to its current form; heavily Hispanic and Democratic.

California’s 47th Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 58%, McCain 39%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 50%, Whitman 42%

Demographics: 8% African American, 21% Asian, 34% Hispanic, 34% White

Likely Democratic

State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D) is facing Long Beach City Councilmember Gary DeLong (R) in this district combining the city of Long Beach with some Orange County communities such as Garden Grove. As of last October though, DeLong had outraised Lowenthal but the district has a large Democratic base and if Obama motivates the Democratic base, Lowenthal should receive a large boost and be able to win.

Update:

Lowenthal’s position seems a bit stronger now. He has started to raise money although he still trails DeLong. The June Primary will be a good barometer on how strong Lowenthal is in the district.

Likely Democratic

California’s 48th Congressional District: Dana Rohrabacher (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 46%, McCain 51%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 35%, Whitman 58%

Demographics: 17% Asian, 20% Hispanic, 59% White

Safe Republican

Rohrabacher’s district loses the entire Los Angeles County portion and gains more of the Orange County coast. It remains Republican and safe for him.

California’s 49th Congressional District: Darrell Issa (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 49%, McCain 47%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 37%, Whitman 55%

Demographics: 7% Asian, 26% Hispanic, 62% White

Safe Republican

Issa’s district becomes more Democratic by gaining Carlsbad and Del Mar which were formerly in Bilbray’s district. Issa’s district still remains safe for him but if Democratic trends continue and Issa retires, this district could become competitive. Bilbray faced competitive races in 2006 and 2008 in a district with similar territory.

California’s 50th Congressional District: Duncan Hunter (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 39%, McCain 58%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 30%, Whitman 66%

Demographics: 30% Hispanic, 59% White

Safe Republican

Hunter should be safe in this district representing inland San Diego County. It was Whitman’s best district in California and McCain’s best district south of Bakersfield.

California’s 51st Congressional District: Open

Presidential Data: Obama 65%, McCain 32%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 58%, Whitman 31%

Demographics: 7% African American, 8% Asian, 68% Hispanic, 14% White

Safe Democratic

Rep. Bob Filner (D) represented most of this district in Congress but the seat is open because he plans to run for mayor. State Sen. Juan Vargas (D) is running to replace him. Vargas has an advantage because he is well known in the San Diego portion of the district and his State Senate district covers almost the entire new 51st district. Denise Duchney (D), a former State Senator from Vargas’s district is running too so there will be a competitive primary for this seat that should vote Democratic in the general election.

Update:

Vargas seems to have the lead in this district, winning endorsements from important groups such as the California Democratic Party. It remains to be seen whether Vargas will advance into the top two with a Republican candidate or Duchney.

Safe Democratic

California’s 52nd Congressional District: Brian Bilbray (R)

Presidential Data: Obama 55%, McCain 43%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 43%, Whitman 50%

Demographics: 18% Asian, 13% Hispanic, 62% White

Tossup

Bilbray’s district still represents northern San Diego City but the district suddenly jumps from 50% Obama to 55% Obama. He now faces three strong Democratic challengers: Assemblywoman Lori Saldana (D), businessman Bob Nascenzi (D) and Port of San Diego Commission Chairman Scott Peters (D). Most pundits believe that Saldana and Peters will be the Democratic frontrunners for the seat. Bilbray though has fended off difficult challenges for the seat in 2006 and 2008 but the new district is more Democratic so he should worry.

Update:

Saldana and Peters have become the two main rivals for the spot to challenge Bilbray and they are in a close fight. Peters has the money advantage, outraising Saldana 3-1 in the 1st Quarter of 2012. They both have strong endorsements too, Peters recently received an endorsement from the San Diego CityBeat for example. Saldana may lack cash but she is more well known in the 52nd district because she represented large portions of it. She recently released an internal poll showing Bilbray with 32% but Saldana at 18% and Peters at 10%. 43% of the voters are undecided though so Peters has room to grow and internal polls tend to lean toward the candidate who conducted them but Peters has not released an internal poll to counter Saldana’s, suggesting Saldana may have a lead. Also, Bob Filner endorsed Peters and Saldana responded by saying, “That’s one failing campaign trying to prop up another failing campaign.” Then once she realized her gaffe, she then endorsed Filner for mayor while Peters could not return the favor because of his ties to the two other mayoral candidates. Those other candidates are a Republican and an Independent so this hurts Peters among Democrats but it could help him win over independents.

Tossup

California’s 53rd Congressional District: Susan Davis (D)

Presidential Data: Obama 61%, McCain 36%

Gubernatorial Data: Brown 52%, Whitman 40%

Demographics: 8% African American, 13% Asian, 32% Hispanic, 43% White

Safe Democratic

Davis’s district becomes less Democratic as it gains some San Diego suburbs. The 61% Obama number though should keep her safe.

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Group Welcomes Sen. Grassley’s Probe Of Google’s Use Of NASA Airfield

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Consumer Watchdog Report Revealed How Google Bases Jet Fleet At Moffett Field

Consumer Watchdog today welcomed an investigation by Sen. Charles Grassley, (R-Iowa) into Google’s use of NASA’s Moffett Federal Airfield in Santa Clara County, California, near Google headquarters.

Grassley, ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, wrote Charles F. Bolden Jr., NASA Administrator, expressing concern about “troubling allegations regarding the Google fleet of aircraft housed at Moffett Airfield.”

In January 2011 Consumer Watchdog released a report, Lost in the Cloud: Google and the US Government, detailing how Google has inappropriately benefited from its ties to the Obama Administration, including how NASA’s Moffett Airfield, near Google’s world headquarters, was turned into a taxpayer-subsidized private airport for Google and their corporate junkets.

“Whistleblowers have questioned the benefit to the U.S. government from the Google fleet being housed at Moffett Airfield,” wrote Grassley. “Additionally, my office received allegations that Google has purchased jet fuel from the government at a discounted price, a price allegedly well below the market price due to its tax treatment.”

“Sen. Grassley is finally asking the right tough questions about Google’s sweetheart deal with NASA,” said John M. Simpson, director of Consumer Watchdog’s Privacy Project.

Read Sen. Grassley’s letter here:

Consumer Watchdog’s study found that a growing fleet of jets and helicopters based at Moffett stand ready to ferry the company’s top executives near or far, for business or pleasure, for vacations or schmoozing. The trips included at least three wintertime jaunts to the Caribbean and a trip by Google’s then chief executive Eric Schmidt to the Cannes Film Festival.  Humanitarian groups, by contrast, have been denied access to the airport.

Read Consumer Watchdog’s report, Lost in the Cloud here:

Grassley asked Bolden to respond to these questions by May 25:

  1. How did NASA arrive at the lease amount of $3.7 million per year? Does that represent a fair market rate for the lease? Which individuals at NASA and Google negotiated the lease amount?
  2. As of the date of this letter, how many aircraft owned or operated by Google are present at Moffett Airfield? Provide detailed descriptions of all aircraft.
  3. Why does Moffett Airfield house Google aircraft and when did this arrangement begin? Provide all contracts between Google, NASA, and/or the military related to aircraft and aircraft fuel at Moffett Airfield.
  4. Please describe the agreements by which Google obtains fuel for its aircraft at Moffett Airfield and provide fueling records for each aircraft over the past five years.
  5. Are any of the aircraft used to support NASA research? Provide a specific explanation regarding the Dassault/Dornier Alpha Jet.4
  6. Have any NASA officials flown on the Google aircraft? Please provide a list of each official and describe the nature and purpose of each trip in detail.
  7. For each aircraft owned or operated by Google, provide all flight plans and passenger manifests for each flight originating and landing at Moffett Airfield in the last five years.
  8. In the last five years, have any other aircraft owned by private companies or individuals housed aircraft at Moffett Airfield? If yes, provide a detailed description of the aircraft, the ownership of the aircraft.

Consumer Watchdog had brought its report to the attention of Congress by sending it to Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and had asked him to investigate.

Making More In America

America needs to make things again.

Stacey Lawson's "Making More in America" Jobs Plan

Why? Because the kinds of jobs that send kids to college and provide a secure retirement are not minimum-wage jobs. Creating high-wage jobs, middle-class jobs and steady year-round jobs will take revitalizing the American manufacturing economy.

The average wage for manufacturing work in America is 20 percent higher than the overall average wage – a premium that reflects the tremendous value added to our economy from the manufacturing sector. Each manufacturing job produces up to four other jobs and, according to a recent report, each $1 spent in manufacturing creates $1.43 in other sectors. That’s a “multiplier effect” nearly twice that of other parts of our economy.

When we make things, we keep vital skills in this country. We keep our balance of trade healthy – so we have control of our economic future. We keep the high-wage manufacturing industries that fund research and development, so our economy doesn’t fall behind.

And manufacturing isn’t just big factories anymore. The “buy local” and “maker” movements have shown the tremendous economic and creative energies released, and the environmental benefits gained, when we stay local.

Manufacturing is also one of the few sources of steady and secure jobs for those who do not graduate from four-year colleges – and that helps build a just economy that creates opportunity for everyone.

Of course, we are not going to bring every manufacturing job back. And we might not want to invest our national efforts in the very lowest wage manufacturing jobs. But we can target the kinds of jobs that will help create a path for American families to the middle class.

That’s exactly the path my own family followed. When I was young, we lived in a trailer in a logging town on the coast of Washington State. I watched my dad start a small trucking business with a single truck he drove himself. Through his hard work, I was able to go on to college, earn a degree in chemical engineering and then an advanced degree – and use my education to start a company that created technology to help U.S. manufacturers compete in the global market place.

Later, I co-founded the Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology at UC Berkeley – and today, I teach bright young engineers and entrepreneurs the skills they need to maintain America’s lead in technology.

All of my experience creating jobs and sparking innovation has led me to one simple conclusion. We can’t outsource our way to prosperity. We need to do more than just design, and then consume, products. We need to make things again.

As tough as the American economy is right now, there is reason for hope when it comes to Making More in America again. Over the past two years, the economy has added 334,000 manufacturing jobs – the strongest two‐year period of manufacturing job growth since the late 1990s. Manufacturing production grew 5.7 percent on an annualized basis since its low in June of 2009, the fastest pace of growth of production in a decade. But we still have a long way to go to recover from the more than two million manufacturing jobs lost in the recession.

Consider this math: if we could return to the level of the late 1970s when about 20 percent of jobs were in the manufacturing sector – we would create 12 million new jobs directly and spur another 30 million new jobs in downstream support services. Why is that number so important? Because that’s just about the number of jobs we need to restore and create over the next ten years to get back to full employment in the U.S.

To get there, we need more than promises.

That’s why I’ve published a detailed plan at www.StaceyLawson.com designed to restore the manufacturing jobs that sustain the middle class – manufacturing employment. It’s called “Making More in America,” and it lays out seven major priorities to get us there.

Restoring our manufacturing economy won’t be easy, and it isn’t the only thing we need to do – it is just a start. But if we care about restoring the middle class and creating the kinds of jobs that pay decent living wages – wages that help buy houses, pay college tuitions, fund decent retirements – this is exactly where we should start. So let’s get going.

Stacey Lawson is a Congressional candidate in California’s newly drawn Second District.  She is an educator and small business owner living in San Rafael, CA.

You can download a copy of Stacey Lawson’s “Making More in America” jobs plan here: http://staceylawson.com/making-more-in-america-jobs-plan/

On Holding Down The Conversational Fort, Or, Jobs, Republicans, And Hooey

As the next Congressional fight over payroll tax extensions and unemployment benefits and pipelines gets set up in the next few weeks for either its final chapter or to be kicked down the road a bit farther, one or the other, you’re going to hear a lot from our Republican friends about how much they value work and workers; most especially, they’ll tell you, they value American jobs for American workers.

After all, they’ll say, creating American jobs is the most important thing of all.

But if we were to look back over just the last few months, some would tell us, we could quickly find examples of how Republicans promote ideas that don’t seem to value work or workers at all, much less American jobs.

Well as it turns out, “some” seem to be right; to illustrate one of those examples we’ll look back a month or two or three to a time some Republicans might wish was long, long, ago, in a galaxy far, far away.

A successful comedian usually becomes more megalomaniacal as the success barometer rises. Initial success might be achieved from stand-up but then the comedian envisions a sitcom, then Broadway, albums, extended tours, Europe, and then his or her own production company.  These things are all fine. Don’t do dinner theater. Don’t open stuff, like shopping centers or bowling alleys. Don’t do fairs, especially if you follow the pig contest.

–From the book “How To Be A Stand-Up Comic”, by Richard Belzer

So…the House Republicans went and promoted and passed out their payroll tax cut plan, and within that plan was a demand that the Junkie XL Pipeline – sorry, that should be Keystone XL Pipeline – get special “expedited” approvals, despite the objections of those who are worried about their water supply, and we have to do this, right now, those same House Republicans tell us, in order to put more or less 6500 folks to work getting the thing built.

And as we mentioned above, this is because the House Republicans care about American jobs and American workers.

So…it may strike you as a bit odd that the exact same House Republicans sent to the Senate in September the “Protecting Jobs From Government Interference Act” (HR 2587),  which has only one purpose: it tells the National Labor Relations Board (the “NLRB”) that if workers at a company decide to form a union, or the company even thinks a union might be coming, and the company, in retaliation, decides to move work from that plant – or, for that matter, decides to move the entire plant – then neither the NLRB nor the United States Courts shall have the authority to do anything about it.

All of this stems from an effort by Boeing to move work from Washington State to South Carolina in retaliation for union activity by the Puget Sound workforce; the NLRB has ruled that Boeing cannot move the work, and the Company and its friends in Congress have joined forces with other anti-Union Members of Congress to move this legislation.

Need a third-party expert opinion to help make sense of the NLRB’s involvement and remedies? Consider this comment from University of Pennsylvania Law Professor Ellen Dannin, via Dennis Kucinich:

The NLRB has decades of experience with cases of this sort, and the National Labor Relations Act is clear that employer actions like Boeing’s violate the law. If this were a murder case, it would be a case in which the police found a person saying : “I did it,” while standing over a fresh corpse with smoking gun in hand.

Decades of experience, did she say? Yes she did – and she was right. In 1964, the Supreme Court ruled that the NLRB had the power to order remedies that include making companies “bring work back”, the relevant case being Fibreboard Paper Products Corp. v. Labor Board, 379 U.S. 203.

The 250 law professors who wrote a letter explaining why HR 2587 is such a bad idea point out that it’s not just about Boeing: companies will no longer have any reason to even bargain with unionized workers (or those who wish they were) before closing plants and moving work overseas, as they have to do now under the law; again, that’s because no one will have the power of enforcement in these cases anymore.

As you might imagine, that’s going to accelerate the departure of jobs overseas, and it won’t take very long to get to 6500, which makes all that Republican fussin’ and fightin’ and sanctimoneoussin’ about Keystone look a bit hollow, eh?

Let’s jump to the side track, as it were, and take a moment to talk about why the question of which Party controls Congress matters: HR 2587 was introduced into the House, and if the Democrats controlled the Chamber it would have died in Committee, and that would have been that…but they don’t, and it didn’t, so the bill made it to the House floor, where it passed with no Democratic “aye” votes and six Republicans voting “nay”.

Then it went to the Senate.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Sometimes Frustrating) has a bit more power than a Speaker of the House to kill any bill before his Chamber, if he’s so inclined; in this case the bill sits on the Senate Legislative Calendar, and unless he says otherwise, that’s where it’ll stay. Of course if Mitch McConnell (R-Hates Obama With The Fire Of A Thousand Suns) were Majority Leader, he would have that bill on the Senate Floor in a heartbeat – and it would pass with a Republican majority, unless Democrats were willing to stand firm and filibuster the thing or the President was willing to use the veto pen, neither of which seems particularly certain.

A companion bill, S 1523, was introduced by Lindsey Graham; it was referred to Committee, possibly to never be seen again – which is also thanks to Harry Reid, with an assist from Tom Harkin, who is the relevant Chair.

At this point I was going to move on to the “what have we learned today” part of the deal, but before I do, I want to take a moment to show you just what kind of legislation our GOP friends will bring to the table, given the chance:

S 1720, the “Put All Your Crazy Eggs In One Basket Act” (not the real bill title, but close enough), was introduced by John McCain just before Halloween (it’s now on the Legislative Calendar, not doing much), and it’s a classic.

This one single bill calls for a Balanced Budget Amendment vote, a semi-flat income tax, repeals “ObamaCare”, repeals Dodd-Frank (Wall Street reform), says you basically can’t sue for medical malpractice anymore, says that if Congress fails to approve any Federal Agency regulation in 90 days, it’s invalid, and then says no Agency can pass any regulation, of any kind, until unemployment hits 7.7%…and there’s a lot more besides, including, I kid you not, forbidding the EPA from regulating the discharge of pesticides into water.

So now let’s get to “what have we learned?”

How about this:

We are going to hear a lot over the next 60 days about how the GOP loves you, the American worker, but at the exact same time they are looking to…well…put all the crazy eggs in one basket, if they can get away with it, and at the same time they’re looking to make it easier and easier to send more jobs to more countries than ever before, even to the point of trying to tell courts and regulators that they can no longer enforce laws Republicans can’t get repealed.

As our GOP friends stand before you, these next couple months, professing their undying love, remind them of this conversation today, and HR 2587, and S 1720, McCain’s “Crazy Egg Basket” bill, and then ask them if they think the GOP really cares about American jobs, or if they’re just getting hustled by slightly-slicker versions of used-car dealership credit managers?

Then you lean in close, look ’em in the eye, smile just a bit, and you say to ’em: “And hey, while you’re here…what do I gotta do to get you into a slightly used 1993 Buick Roadmaster Estate Wagontoday?”

Then you can both have a little laugh – while you take their money and run.

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On Helping Republicans, Or, Next Time You Need A Bad Idea, Try These

I have spent a number of years complaining about the interactions between Democrats and Republicans, but after the recent events involving the Keystone XL and civil liberties cave-ins, I’ve decided it’s time to stop complaining and embrace the madness.

But I also feel like there’s an ugly edge to all this…that hasn’t really been fully exploited.

I mean, Republicans have tried to force through a lot of disgusting ideas this Congress as they’ve held various bills hostage, but it seems like, if they really tried, they could do so much more.

But I’m not here to complain, I’m here to help; that’s why today we’ll be trotting out a few ideas of our own that Republicans can attach to bills throughout 2012, with the assistance of certain errant Democrats.

It’ll be fun, it’ll be festive, but most of all…it’ll be an exercise in Civic Responsibility, and in these difficult times, that’s something we could sorely use.

1) Above all, the needs of the army need to be taken into consideration. For instance, it will scarcely be possible to avoid, here and there, leaving behind some trade Jews who are absolutely essential for the provisioning of the troops, for lack of other possibilities. But in each case the proper Aryanization of these enterprises is to be planned and the move of the Jews to be completed in due course, in cooperation with the competent local German administrative authorities.

–From a planning document written in 1939 by Reinhard Heydrich, as reported in the book Documents of the Holocaust, edited by Yitzhak Arad, Israel Gutman, and Abraham Margaliot

So let’s start with the economy: the Census Bureau tells us that nearly half the population is now poor or near-poor, and something needs to be done. With that in mind, I’d propose the “Economic Freedom and Upward Mobility Act” (HR 4377), which would establish a series of military catapult sites along the US border where carefully selected poor folks would be given, literally, economic freedom and upward mobility, even as we instantly reduce the number of impoverished persons in the United States.

Civil rights are important, but not at any cost; that’s why the “Election Cost Control Act” (HR OU812) would allow States to empower local officials to preselect winners in various elections, saving the taxpayer the time and expense of having to count the votes for all those losing candidates.

Messaging matters, and there’s no reason Republicans have to be the bearers of all the bad news: Mississippi Congressman Hatesem Lotsabunch confirmed to me in a phone call yesterday that he will take my suggestion and introduce the “Voter Education Act”, which would require President Obama to wear a giant red, white, and blue dog whistle on a thick silver chain every time he appears in public between the date of passage and November of 2012. (For the record, I actually suggested a gold chain; he thought that was a bit “uppity”.)

We have a serious immigration problem, but I think we can take a page from the Newt Gingrich playbook and introduce the “Guest Worker Protection and Identification Act” (GWIPA).

Here’s the idea: Gingrich has proposed creating a class of persons (“worker residents”?) who are allowed to live and work in the USA, but are never going to be allowed to have US citizenship. The problem is that it will be impossible to quickly tell who is a legal worker resident and who isn’t. Under GWIPA, government-issued armbands would be provided for all legal worker residents to hold their photo ID; as long as they always wear the armband, they’ll be protected from having to show papers to law enforcement officials as they go about their daily business.

Governors as diverse as Rick Perry, Jan Brewer, and Robert Bentley have demanded that the Federal Government finally get serious about “securing the border”; the “Nuclear Assault Mine/Border Legislation Act” (NAM/BLA) is my “if you’re crazy enough to support Rick Santorum, why not this?” proposal to make that happen. The new law would order the Department of Energy and the Department of Defense to work together to develop, manufacture, and deploy small “assault-sized” nuclear land mines along the Mexican border as a way to deter illegal immigration.

“Well you look perfectly idiotic in those clothes!”

“These aren’t my clothes!”

“Well, where are your clothes?”

“I’ve lost my clothes!”

“Well, why are you wearing these clothes?”

“Because I just went GAY all of a sudden!”

–Cary Grant, as David Huxley, from the 1938 movie Bringing Up Baby

Finally, let’s take a moment and consider one of the vital social issues of the day.

It is apparently still possible to lock down some GOP votes by going “hard negative” on the LBGT community, if what I’m hearing from the candidates is to be believed (I was particularly struck by Mitt Romney’s ability to twist on this issue: in the last GOP debate, in one single sentence, Romney said he felt there should be no discrimination against the LBGT community…but that there should be no same-sex marriages), and I have a proposal that allows the GOP to appear to be moving to a better place while ensuring that nothing ever changes at all:

The “Mitt Romney Legal Access Beyond Intimidation Act” (MRLABIA) would do two things: it would repeal the Federal Defense of Marriage Act – and, in the Mitt Romney tradition, it would also add a new provision into law that prevents same-sex couples from entering into contracts for the purposes of marriage, thus ensuring “a perfect flip-flop, every time”, as they might say on an infomercial somewhere.

So there you go: instead of relying on the usual “poison pills”, I’m challenging the GOP to try out a few of these ideas – and I’m also challenging much of the American media to try and tell the difference between some of these ideas and the present reality; just at the moment that won’t be easy, and, all humor aside, I think that might actually be the saddest part of this whole exercise.

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