Unlike most other states, California uses an “open” primary system where the top two vote getters on primary day advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation. In some ways, this makes the analysis a little difficult. It is possible that in certain districts there may be a Democrat vs. Democrat or Republican vs. Republican in the general election. This article will focus on only the GOP candidates where there are at least two running in any district where Republicans have a chance. Hence, although there may be two Republicans running in a particular race, if the Cook rating of that district exceeds +20 Democrat, there will be no analysis.
In the governor’s race, Governor Moonbeam- a/k/a Jerry Brown- is seeking another term on the Democratic side. The primary has attracted six GOP candidates. Let us not mince words here: unless something unforeseen happens, Brown will win reelection. Hence, it makes little sense to go through all the Republican candidates, especially since some are somewhat on the nutty side (fitting for California). While 2010 candidate Richard Aguirre is a tempting endorsement, although clearly moderate, this writer is opting for someone who will make the race at least a little more interesting and going with Neel Kashkari.
In the 1st District (Cook PVI +10 Republican)- incumbent Doug LaMalfa will face Doug Cheadle. This district may produce a GOP on GOP general election. If so, then I would actually go with Cheadle. Assuming a Democrat is the opponent, then the endorsement lies with Doug LaMalfa due to the power of incumbency.
In the 4th (Cook PVI +14 Republican)- most likely to have GOP on GOP general election as Tom McClintock’s opposition in the primary is fellow Republican Art Moore and an independent candidate. Thus, no endorsement is necessary here.
In the 7th (Cook PVI EVEN)- Democrat Ami Bera currently occupies this seat and is a target of the GOP. If there was ever a vulnerable Democrat in California, this is the district. Three Republicans will be vying to take him on: Igor Birman, Elizabeth Emken and Doug Ose. Ami Bera is perhaps one of the most moderate Democrats in the House. Therefore, a moderate Republican stands a chance against him. Assuming Bera will be one candidate in November, the best GOP opposition is Doug Ose.
8th District (Cook PVI +10 Republican)- could produce two GOP candidates in November in incumbent Paul Cook and challenger Paul Hannosh. Cook is one of the most “moderate” members of the House according to Govtrack (seriously, check it out). Assuming Cook is one candidate in November, then I would support Paul Hannosh here.
9th District (Cook PVI +6 Democratic)- Democrat Jerry McNerney is the incumbent and seems to have a target on his back every cycle yet he prevails. Electability is the deciding factor here among the three Republicans in the mix and that person may be Tony Amador.
16th District (Cook PVI +7 Democratic)- Democrat Jim Costa currently represents this district and is a relative moderate in the House. Still, if this is a GOP wave year, Republican Steve Tacherra has the best chance to unseat Costa.
18th District (Cook PVI +18 Democratic)- The seat is occupied by Democrat Anna Eshoo. There is enough in the stances or resumes of all three Republican candidates to dismiss them all. Richard Fox, who describes himself as a libertarian Republican, had me until it came to his stance on abortion. In the other areas like education and health care, his stances are fine (education- parental choice and local control; health care- do away with Obamacare). However, his pro-choice stance really grates. Given the lack of information on the other candidates, this writer is withholding any endorsement.
22nd District (Cook PVI +10 Republican)- Incumbent Devin Nunes faces a GOP and Democratic candidate in the primary. This writer sees no need to shift course here and since Nunes will likely advance to the general election regardless, there is no downside to endorsing his GOP opponent thus ensuring this seat remains in GOP control, even if his proposals are Utopian.
24th District (Cook PVI +4 Democratic)- This seat is currently occupied by Democrat Lois Capps. In such a low PVI-rated district, Capps may be too liberal thus making her vulnerable. If you want to go with an electable moderate, then your man is Justin Fareed. However, the one candidate (he failed in 2012 for the House race and in 1998 for the state assembly) that most matches my beliefs is Chris Mitchum (yes- the son of Robert Mitchum). Since Capps is not really a target and because she is so far to the left, why not run the most conservative alternative? There is nothing to really lose here.
25th District (Cook PVI +3 Republican)- this seat is being vacated by Republican Buck McKeon. It would be great if two Republicans advance but let’s assume one Democrat (Lee Rogers) will advance. After all, the Democrats see a strong opportunity here to pick up a seat. Let’s make this race a mini-referendum on Obamacare. That would pit Rogers who advocates reform of Obamacare leading to a single-payer system versus Tony Strickland who wants to repeal and replace it with a market-driven system.
26th District (Cook PVI +4 Democratic)- currently held by Democrat Julia Brownley, this is a vulnerable district for the Democrats just as the 25th is vulnerable for the GOP. Considered a rank-and-file Democrat, Brownley will likely advance to the general election. The best competition would likely be state assemblyman Jeff Gorell. If the GOP has to play defense in the 25th, let’s make the Democrats do the same thing in the 26th.
30th District (Cook PVI +14 Democratic)- in 2012, an incumbent liberal Democrat had to face another liberal Democrat. The attempts to “out liberal” one another led to blows. This district is liberal enough that a Democrat vs. Democrat general election may ensue. But the dynamics are different than in 2012. On the GOP side it is a tough choice between Pablo Kleinman and Mark Reed. A view of their stances on issues indicate both would be great alternatives to Sherman. However, if I had to choose, I would go with Pablo Kleinman.
31st District (Cook PVI +5 Democratic)- this seat is being vacated by Republican Gary Miller who would have faced a difficult task winning reelection. It is quite possible two Democrats- Pete Aguilar and Joe Baca- will advance. This district will likely fall to the Democrats. However, the best chance for the GOP may be ex-congressional aid Lesli Gooch. If she advances to the general election then there is a 50/50 chance of keeping this seat. Getting through the primary is the first task.
33rd District (Cook PVI +11 Democratic)- this seat is being vacated by Democrat and uber-liberal Henry Waxman (and good riddance). There is little to analyze here and this writer would support the GOP candidacy of Elan Carr just because…
36th District (Cook PVI +1 Republican)- Democratic incumbent Raul Ruiz won this seat with Obama at the top of the ticket. Both Republican candidates have legislative experience, but Brian Nestande is the better candidate on the issues.
41st District (Cook PVI +9 Democratic)- Mark Takano, a Democrat, is the incumbent. On the Republican side, what would be better than running a conservative African-American woman? Not for these reasons but because of her stances on energy, Obamacare and immigration would I support the efforts of Yvonne Terrell Girard.
45th District (Cook PVI +7 Republican)- GOP incumbent John Campbell is retiring. Both Mimi Walters and Greg Raths are decent Republican replacements for Campbell. It is possible they may both advance in which case the 45th would be well-represented in Congress. If I had to choose between the two- assuming the lone Democrat sneaks in there- then I would go with Mimi Walters.
46th District (Cook PVI +9 Democratic)- Loretta Sanchez, the Democratic incumbent, will be one candidate in November. Assuming the other Democrat on the ballot does not advance, the best choice is Carlos Vasquez.
48th District (Cook PVI +7 Republican)- Why risk the seat? Dana Rohrabacher.
52nd District (Cook PVI +2 Democratic)- Scott Peters, the Democratic incumbent, has a big target on his back this year. Three Republicans have lined up to take him on. Peters barely won in 2012. One article notes that he has voted with John Boehner 9 of 16 times Boehner has cast a vote. Big deal! This is a great opportunity for the GOP to pick up a seat in California. Therefore, the best candidate to take on Peters would be Carl DeMaio.
And finally…the 53rd District (Cook PVI +10 Democratic)- this district is currently occupied by Democrat Susan Davis. Davis endorsements sound like a who’s who of Leftist organizations although Govtrack ranks her as a rank-and-file Democrat. The problem is that she is likely a closet Socialist who will show her true stripes the more entrenched she becomes. She will advance as there are no other Democrats in the mix. The two best GOP candidates are Joel Marchese and Larry Wilske. The former is a teacher and the latter a Navy retiree. Neither have political experience. Either would be a great alternative to Davis. Given the large military presence in the San Diego-based 53rd District, one is most tempted to go with Larry Wilskie as he may be the more electable of the two. In all honesty, this writer would have no objection to either.