Tag Archives: Buck McKeon

The Race to Pass the Buck in CA-25

DFCon2012_0382Crowded Field and Top-2 could net interesting election

by Brian Leubitz

Buck McKeon announced his retirement in January, but the announcement produced little surprise. He was rumored to retire for a while now, including some rumors in the past few cycles. And Tony Strickland, after losing a run against Julia Brownley in 2012, has been pretty much campaigning in this district since.

But even with the Strickland campaign up and running for a long time, there have been no shortage of candidates. And over in the LA Daily News, Rick Orlov takes a look at the field:

The race has drawn two prominent Republicans – Sen. Steve Knight and former Sen. Tony Strickland – who have represented portions of the district in the state Legislature, as well as a physician who first ran against McKeon two years ago, a former test pilot, a pair of businessmen and one Libertarian. (Rick Orlov / LA Daily News)

Dr. Lee Rogers, the Democratic nominee in 2012, is running again, joining former Air Force pilot Evan Thomas. The crowded field of 4 Republicans, a Libretarian, and two Democrats kind of presents the question of Top-2. Last year, a strong chance at a Democratic pickup in CA-31 was foiled when a field of Democrats piled over each other and fell behind the two Republicans running. Of course, that could happen again there in 2014, with a huge field.

In order for that dynamic to really work, there has to be two recognizable members of one party and a field of less known candidates on the other side. However, 2014 seems more likely for the two Republican Senators to split most of the GOP vote, and the other two Republicans picking up only a smattering of votes. The fact that Thomas is starting a bit behind also makes him unlikely to creep into that top-2. However, with the small sample size we have seen so far, you never really know what is going to happen in the post Top-2 world.

While 2014 is likely to be a tough year for Democrats nationwide, one again California appears to be the breaking point of any momentum. The party stands a chance to pick up both CA-31 and CA-25, netting a few seats that may have to make up for other states across the country.

News Of Local Jerks

Two of the eight “Obama Republicans,” that is, members of the GOP delegation in the House whose districts went for Barack Obama in November, are in the news of late, and I think we can draw some conclusions about their behavior.

First of all, Dan Lungren held a “town hall meeting” in his district last week.  I put “town hall meeting” in quotes because unlike actual town hall meetings, attendees weren’t allowed to ask questions:

After a brief introduction by Elk Grove Mayor Patrick Hume, Lungren made it clear that the format of this ‘townhall’ meeting would not include direct questioning from the audience. Rather constituents were to fill out a questionnaire and submit for indirect questioning by Hume.

Lungren’s reasoning was that he had received several constituent complaints that other district meetings were “so rambunctious” that they were afraid to come. To make the meeting open, Lungren said questions would be answered only by those filling out the questionnaires.

During the course of the meeting there were 15 questionnaires read covering a variety of topics, none of them pointed or very relative, in our opinion, to the staggering recession we find ourselves in. Lungren talked about his favorite topics of immigration, deficit spending and judiciary matters.

Hume, who had a table full of submitted questionnaires in front of him, never seemed to ask the questions as written. Hume was either being overly polite, or didn’t want to incur the wrath of a congressman […]

“If this is a townhall meeting, we should be allowed to be allowed to make comments,” said Elk Grove resident Mike Monasky. Immediately Monasky was loudly told by city charter commission member Christopher Orrock to be quiet.

Now there’s someone who doesn’t want to be held accountable by his constituents.  That makes the Bush “town hall meetings” look like free-for-alls.

Then there’s Buck McKeon.  His home in Santa Clarita was burglarized.  We’re sorry for him and his wife.  But we did not expect McKeon to push a political angle.

A thief, who has since been arrested, broke into the McKeons’ home on the morning of March 4 and stole jewelry from the master bedroom, said Bob Haueter, McKeon’s 2010 campaign manager. The rest of the home was not disturbed, he said […]

The burglary was mentioned in a McKeon fundraising letter, dated March 25, that discussed McKeon’s opposition to the Employee Free-Choice Act – a bill that would make it easier for workers to unionize. The legislation is backed by President Barack Obama, whose political roots are in Chicago.

The letter says the labor legislation is “right out of Stalin’s playbook” and part of the president’s “socialist agenda.” A note at the bottom of the letter, written by Patricia McKeon, read:

“As if things couldn’t get any worse, our home was just broken into while we were in D.C. Some observant neighbors were able to identify the thieves and get the license plate number of the car they used.

“You won’t believe this; the car is registered to a person in Chicago! Just know this, no matter what happens to us, Buck and I won’t back down.”

Are you kidding me?  Apparently we’re to believe that President Obama has a cadre of thieves he’s dispatching across the country to Republican homes.  While I admit that would be a simply ingenious strategy (note to Patricia McKeon: I’m joking), I simply don’t think he’s concerning himself with an underworld network.

Can we conclude that these two are maybe just a little bit scared, as they see their stranglehold on their districts slipping away?

New Registration Numbers Show More Increases For Democrats

The latest report of registration, current up to February 2010, shows that voters have continued to register Democratic in higher numbers even since the general election.  There are now 17.3 million registered voters, 74.4% of all eligible adults, and Democrats have a 2.32 million vote advantage over Republicans.  By the percentages, the state consists of 44.52% Democrats, 31.14% Republicans, and 19.99% decline to state, with smaller parties rounding out the rest of the voters.

2010 is the last year before a new census and new district lines, so the district-level numbers only apply for the next election cycle.  Still, a close reading makes clear where Democrats should be focusing their registration efforts and resources for the next year.

In Congress, there are two Republican-held seats where Republicans hold less than 40% of the registration share, seen as a key dividing line.  Those are Dan Lungren’s CA-03 (39.7% Republican-37.7% Democratic) and, surprisingly, Buck McKeon’s CA-25 (39.7% Republican-39.2% Democratic), which has changed dramatically over the past few years and could be ripe for a well-funded, legitimate challenger.  Obama won that district 50-48 as well.  With only 351,421 registered voters in CA-25, there are additional non-voters waiting to be registered there to tighten up those numbers even further.  CA-19 also has a shortfall of voters which could lead to a tightening of the rolls.  

In the State Senate, the only even-numbered seat (the ones up for election in 2010) that deserves a focus is SD-12, where Jeff Denham is termed out.  There are 47.5% registered Democrats and 33.1% registered Republicans.  Democrats in that region are fairly conservative, and so there may not be a progressive coming out of that district, but there’s no reason on Earth why Democrats shouldn’t own that seat.  Especially since there may be 100,000 unregistered voters out there.

As for the Assembly, the numbers look good in AD-05, AD-26 (Dems have a 42-39 lead in registration), AD-30 and AD-36, with a few other marginal possibilities based solely on the voter reg. numbers (AD-38, AD-63, AD-64, and AD-65 come to mind).  There is absolutely a path to pick up three seats and a 2/3 majority in the Assembly, if the net is cast wide enough.

Of course, oftentimes Democratic officials focus too much, in my view, on voter registration statistics, and shoudl recruit good candidates and give them the resources they need to compete instead.  But in this off-year, registration stats offer an opportunity to determine where to target.  You can dig through them yourself at the Secretary of State’s page.

Primary Turnout: Might Be A Good Year to Compete Everywhere

(bump cause I like congressional and numbers – promoted by Lucas O’Connor)

Turnout from Tuesday’s primary by party.  Every district with a Republican leaning PVI plus Barbara Lee just for fun and comparison’s sake. Of the Republican leaning districts, Dem turnout was higher in 8 and close in several others.  Might be an interesting November. Just sayin.

Numbers on the flip.

Update: I should have mentioned in the first place, there are still no Democratic candidates in CA-02, CA-19, CA-22, or CA-25.  Turnout was dead even in the 19th and higher for Dems in the 25th, just for starters.

CA-02; R+13

Wally Herger (R)

R 80,090

D 70,563

CA-03; R+7

Dan Lungren (R)

R 70,544

D 80,070

CA-04; R+11

Open (R)

R 107,757

D 89,717

CA-09; D+38

Barbara Lee (D)

R 13,384

D 124,070

CA-11; R+3

Jerry McNerney (D)

R 69,766

D 81,650

CA-19; R+10

George Radanovich (R)

R 63,766

D 62,331

CA-21; R+13

Devin Nunes (R)

R 51,272

D 44,053

CA-22; R+16

Kevin McCarthy (R)

R 86,234

D 61,123

CA-24; R+5

Elton Gallegly (R)

R 78,422

D 82,293

CA-25; R+7

Buck McKeon (R)

R 60,837

D 64,048

CA-26; R+4

David Dreier (R)

R 73,144

D 74,934

CA-40; R+8

Ed Royce (R)

R 66,027

D 59,372

CA-41; R+9

Jerry Lewis (R)

R 68,055

D 59,833

CA-42; R+10

Gary Miller (R)

R 79,622

D 63,182

CA-44; R+6

Ken Calvert (R)

R 57,083

D 57,317

CA-45; R+3

Mary Bono (R)

R 53,635

D 59,067

CA-46; R+6

Dana Rohrabacher (R)

R 81,427

D 74,084

CA-48; R+8

John Campbell (R)

R 92,187

D 75,845

CA-49; R+10

Darrell Issa (R)

R 62,658

D 53,493

CA-50; R+5

Brian Bilbray (R)

R 78,489

D 82,358

CA-52; R+9

Open (R)

R 74,593

D 67,849

CA House Races Roundup – July 2007

With 16 months to go before Election Day, some Democratic challengers are getting a little more visible in their efforts to unseat Republican incumbents.  I see good news at the very top of the target list, and elsewhere we’re still waiting to see who will run.  Let’s focus on the top 10 races where a Republican is currently serving, knowing that we are still going to have a fight in CA-11 to re-elect Jerry McNerney (although that probably won’t be against Guy Houston, who may be on trial for fraud at the time).

So let’s take a look at the top 10 challenges.  I’m going to rank them in order of most possible pickup, including their number from the last roundup.  I’m also adding the “Boxer number.”  Basically, seeing how Boxer fared in her 2004 re-election against Bill Jones in a particular district is a decent indicator of how partisan it is.  If I put “57,” that means Boxer received 57% of the vote.  Anything over 50, obviously, is good. (over)

1) CA-04 (Doolittle).  Last month: 1.  Boxer number: 40.  Everyone that Rep. John Doolittle has ever known or worked with is currently talking to the FBI.  The sense is that it’s just a matter of time.  His newfound antiwar stance didn’t translate into a vote for responsible redeployment yesterday; it was all talk.  Charlie Brown (who has a spiffy new website) has released a comprehensive national security plan that is a good read.  I have not seen him release any full Q2 fundraising numbers just yet, but given that he’s one of only two spotlighted candidates on Blue Majority, I’m sure they’ll be solid.  We do know that he raised over $45,000 on ActBlue with almost 1,000 contributors.  That’s significant.

2) CA-26 (Dreier).  Last month: 2.  Boxer number: 48.  The more I hear about this race, the more I like it.  I think this should be the number one target for Southern California progressives.  Dreier is lashed to Bush (and in his case Giuliani) like everybody else in the California caucus; but he’s got a swing district and a real challenger.  Russ Warner, who ran last time, announced that he raised around $100,000 in the 2nd quarter, and has over $150,000 cash on hand.  According to the press release, “Warner has more money on hand at this early stage of the campaign than all but one Democratic nominee has ever raised and spent against David Dreier in the entire general election since he was first elected to Congress in 1980.”  This account of Warner shows that he is getting local coverage, and the fact that he has the endorsement of Hilda Solis is a major coup.  That his son is serving a tour in Iraq right now adds an emotional appeal.

There is at least one other challenger who’s raising money at a decent clip.  Hoyt Hilsman also has $150,000 CoH after having loaned his campaign $100,000 personally.  Hilsman is an author and a professor.

3) CA-24 (Gallegly).  Last month: 3.  Boxer number: 47.  It’s still retirement watch for Elton Gallegly.  He has $800,000 in the bank, which would presume a run.  But he had $1.1 million in the bank two years ago, when he retired and then clumsily returned to the race.  We know at least 3 people are mounting a run against him; 2006 opponent Jill Martinez, 2004 opponent Brett Wagner, and my friend and fellow delegate Mary Pallant.  Richard Francis, a prominent lawyer, has also made a little noise about running.  So the sharks are circling and waiting to see what Gallegly will do.

4) CA-50 (Bilbray).  Last month: 5.  Boxer number: 48.  The fact that there are three legitimate challengers to Brian Bilbray shows that there is some Democratic activism within the district.  Our San Diego correspondent Lucas O’Connor has given us this account of Michael Wray’s efforts at outreach to Democrats.  John Lee Evans and Nick Leibham are also making the rounds in the district.  As for Brian Bilbray, we do know that he hates brown people and he bottles his own beer.  I don’t know if he’s committed a firing offense, though certainly there’s a pro-Bush voting record opponents can highlight.

5) CA-41 (Lewis).  Last month: 3.  Boxer number: 43.  There’s also a retirement watch of sorts here, as we all wait and see if Robert Novak’s report that Lewis won’t seek re-election is true.  We also learned this week that Lewis is dedicated to helping his constituents in Washington, DC, where he requested a $500,000 earmark for a Metro station that would be three blocks from his Capitol-area home.  That could be turned into a defining issue in an election.  There are rumblings that it would be best for Republicans to urge Lewis to retire, so of course they won’t do it.  There is still no word on whether attorney Tim Prince will jump into this race, at least that I’ve heard.

6) CA-44 (Calvert).  Last month: 8.  Boxer number: 45.  The next of the “corruption boys” of the GOP, Calvert is in trouble over a recent grand jury ruling that showed a city government agency illegally sold him and other investors a four-acre parcel of land a few years back.  He doesn’t seem deterred by it, and really the grand jury ruled against the government agency and not him.  This is absolutely a district where we should run someone strong.  A recent report showed that Riverside County is poised to become the second-largest in the state, behind only Los Angeles County.  Democrats need visibility there in a big way.  Defenders of Wildlife is running ads against Calvert, so they obviously see some vulnerabilities there.

7) CA-42 (Miller).  Last month: 6.  Boxer number: 41.  Gary Miller rounds out the GOP corruption boys.  It’s such a Republican seat that just making him spend money will be a win.  Not much to report this month.

8) CA-45 (Bono).  Last month: 8.  Boxer number: 49.  I would love to have more to say about this race, but sadly, I don’t.  She is apparently one of Washington’s most eligible bachelorettes.  That’s all I’ve got for ya.

9) CA-25 (McKeon).  Last month: 9.  Boxer number: 45.  McKeon, the ranking Democrat Republican on the Education and Labor Committee, railed against the recent passage of an increase in the Pell Grant to make college more affordable for our best an brightest.  Yeah, because that would be terrible.  I would love to see someone challenge this guy.

10) CA-52 (open seat).  Last month: 10.  Boxer number: 44.  Despite it being an open seat, I still don’t expect to see anyone beating Duncan Hunter’s son while he’s serving in Iraq.

Early Projections: CA House Races

There are no Senate seats up in California in 2008, and no statewide offices up for election, so the biggest seats outside of the Presidency will be in the House of Representatives.  While we’re 18 months out, I thought I’d give a snapshot of what races are most inviting for a Democratic pickup.

I’m going to concern myself solely with pickup opportunities, because the only realistic possibility of a GOP pickup is in CA-11, and I’m confident that Jerry McNerney and his grassroots army can handle whatever’s thrown at him, plus he’ll have the power of incumbency and the focus of the CDP.  There may be some retirements that would make things interesting (Lantos, Stark, Woolsey), but those are very blue areas.  So let’s look at the best opportunities to add to the Democratic majority:

1) CA-04 (Doolittle): The Doolittle watch continues, and what is most clear is that the best thing for California Republicans would be for Doolittle to just go away.  Charlie Brown has a $200,000 CoH advantage and the taint of the intensifying Abramoff scandal won’t be as easy to wash off the second time around.  If it’s a fresh challenger and an open seat, Brown will still have a higher name ID, but it would be more difficult.

2) CA-26 (Dreier): Hekebolos has mentioned David Dreier’s fundraising troubles.  Plus, as a member of the GOP Leadership, he can be very much tied to their failures over the years.  And the Partisan Voting Index (PVI) in the district is only +4 Republican, comparable to McNerney’s district, and has been shrinking over the years.  It’s the third-closest PVI district in the entire state, and yet Dreier is anything but a moderate.  Russ Warner ran in the 2006 primary (losing to 2004 candidate Cynthia Matthews, who then raised almost no money for the general) and will be running again, and appears to have the right makeup to pull off this upset.

3) CA-50 (Bilbray): The replacement for the Duke-Stir has not distinguished himself (does Bilbray live in that district yet?), and Howie Klein, at least, is intrigued by the potential candidacy of Michael Wray, a former Busby campaign worker and rocket scientist.  I think he’d have a somewhat better chance than Francine Busby.  This would be tough, but not a hopeless district.

4) CA-24 (Gallegly): Elton Gallegly maintains that he’s running.  He tried to retire in 2006, and then abruptly returned to the race because California election law mandated that his name would appear on the ballot regardless.  He eventually defeated Jill Martinez with 62% of the vote.  The word is that Martinez is running again.  Ventura County Democrats have done an amazing job turning around voter registration numbers in the region of late, adding to hope that this could be winnable even against the incumbent.  The PVI is R+5.

5) CA-42 (Miller): See above.  Not hopeless but tough.  The fact that it’s more Republican than CA-50 is balanced out by the fact that Gary Miller is a thieving scumbag who is under investigation by the feds.  Unlike last year, there will be a candidate, and the race is definitely on the CDP’s radar screen.  If we win this one, it’ll be a very good year.

6) CA-25 (McKeon): Buck McKeon is always a threat to retire, and this is a R+7 PVI, so it’s not impossible.  And this is one of those seats, in northeastern LA and San Bernardino Counties, that we have to start competing in, because the job growth in the inland areas of Southern California are outstripping the coasts. Robert Rodriguez did a decent job here in 2006 (McKeon won 60%-36%).  I hope he runs again.

7) CA-52 (open seat): The only Republican open seat to date, but it’s almost not open at all, because Duncan Hunter is trying to give the seat to his son, also named Duncan Hunter, and he’s likely to be fighting in Iraq during the election.  Kind of hard to compete against someone with that circumstance.

8) CA-45 (Bono): David Roth raised a decent enough amount of money in 2006 to at least make Mary Bono sweat.  The PVI is only R+3.  But it was one of the lowest-turnout races in the entire state.  If we can excite people out in the desert, ya never know.

9) CA-41 (Lewis): The Jerry Lewis investigation has gone cold, but the fact that Debra Yang appears to have been bought off the probe by the law firm representing Lewis means that the scandal might have a different set of legs.  And again, this is a part of Southern California where we need to have a presence; eventually there will be more and more people in this region, and probably more seats.  And the fact that they are likely to be coming from liberal Los Angeles means it’s an opportunity to get some infrastructure going.

10) CA-44 (Calvert): This district has actually less of a PVI (R+6) than CA-25.  And Calvert has some earmark and lobbying problems.  And the guy was caught with a prostitute in his car back in 1993.  So the atmospherics are there.  But Democrats have done little in this district.  His challenger last year raised 8 grand.  Total.  And he STILL got 38% of the vote!  It’s time to give this guy a real challenge.

Realistically, 2 pickups would be a really good tally; 3 would be amazing.  But the goal should be getting some of these incumbents to around 55%.

California Blog Roundup for August 2, 2006

Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers: Phil Angelides, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Richard Pombo, Buck McKeon, CA-50, voting, Republican corruption, Proposition 88, prisons, immigration, global warming.

Governor’s Race

Jerry McNerney / Paid-For Pombo / CA-11


  • Lots of people posting on the lawsuit demanding a hand recount in CA-50, but I’m going with Words Have Power for this topic WHP asks a good question: “Interestingly, since he has already been sworn into office, Brian Bilbray can not be removed from his position, even if a recount shows that he actually had fewer votes than Francine Busby. How would the Republican congress handle that little issue?” This way, I’m betting.
  • In related news, Courage Campaign and Chris Bowers did an interesting post-mortem poll in CA-50.

Other Republican Paragons


The Rest

Where is Buck?

(Buck never met an educational loan lobbyist he didn’t love – promoted by SFBrianCL)

This week student loan interest rates increased from 5.3% to 6.8% for students and from 6.1% to up to 8.5% for parents borrowing for their children. This will put student loan rates far above prevailing market interest rates. The rate hike will mean a nearly $13,000 increase in the total cost of college for each student in the district. Buck voted for the interest rate hike, and helped pass it as chairman of the education committee. You would expect that Buck would find a $13,000 tax increase on the cost of a college education important enough to explain to his constituents. Right?

      Buck’s Office on the Day of the Rate Increase

As it turns out, Buck didn’t think his rate increase was important enough to warrant returning home to his district. On the day the rate hike went into effect, Buck was nowhere to be found. No one in Buck’s office could tell us where he was. Why wasn’t Buck at home to explain how the rate hikes would benefit the people of the 25th district? Probably because the only people to benefit from the rate hike were student loan bankers handing out student loans. But why would Buck support student loan bankers instead of the students of his district? USNews and World Report says there are at least 262,000 reasons why.

While Buck was back in Washington D.C., Robert was busy gathering a group of us to canvass local colleges to urge students to consolidate their loans in advance of the rate hikes. The local media noticed the contrast.

We concluded the week’s events by joining a group of student supporters to protest the rate increases. Three local high school students gave fantastic speeches at Hart High School in Santa Clarita, calling on Congress to do more to make college affordable for all Americans. In a speech to the assembled supporters, Robert said that in today’s America access to an affordable education is the gateway to opportunity. He called on Buck to represent the people of the district, instead of big money.

After the speeches, the whole group of supporters went to Buck’s office to deliver him a bill in the amount that his rate increase would mean for the district. The total cost to the 2006 high school graduating class across the 25th district will exceed $40,000,000. Buck’s secretary graciously accepted the bill from us, in Buck’s absence. Students and parents of the district are still waiting on payment.

Unfortunately, we’ll have to wait another day to find out exactly where the Buck stops.

California Blog Roundup, 6/18/06

Today’s California Blog Roundup is on the flip. Teasers: Phil Angelides, Arnold Schwarzenegger, CA-11, CA-50, Richard Pombo, Jerry McNerney, John Doolittle, Buck McKeown, corruption, health care, immigration, reform.

Governor’s Race


CA-50 / Voting Integrity

Other Electoral

Republican Paradigms


  • Governor Schwarzenegger would like some reimbursement from the Feds for border security, etc. Right, just like with No Child Left Behind — the Republican-run federal government will get right on that.
  • No matter how much the Republicans try to dress it up as “rule of law”, using immigration as a wedge issue has a nasty undercurrent of nativism.
  • Randy Bayne notes that the Republicans in the State Legislature who refuse to fund healthcare that might go in some small part to undocumented children are just mean-spirited. That’s right… punish the children for the alleged sins of their parents. That’s the way of the Republican leadership.
  • Same topic, humorous take.
  • CannonFire on reverse wedgifying immigation: if the Republicans were serious about border security, why aren’t we spending some of the money wasted in Iraq on actual border security?

Reform / Miscellany