I next move out west and look at Utah and California. Thus far, I have the GOP picking up a net total of one seat in the House. First, the easy state- Utah.
Utah has some of the strongest Republican ranked districts in the country by both Cook and me. Districts 1 through 3 are safely Republican holds. The Fourth was represented by Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. Jim Matheson (D-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001142′ ] who survived a scare in 2012 against Mia Love. Possibly seeing the writing on the wall and another run against Love, Matheson opted for retirement. Despite the apparent coronation of Love, polling has indicated that the race may be closer than most think as Love has not exactly run away with this thing. Still, in an open race it is hard to see her losing and this writer is predicting a Love victory. This then brings the net total of Republican gains in the House to 2 seats.
Now onto California. In the Governor’s race, Jerry Brown will be elected to another term relatively easily. Polling has found him consistently above the 50% mark since May and one suspects that will not change come Election Day. Prediction: Jerry Brown by about 19 points.
In the congressional district races, there are some to watch. California uses the open primary system where the top two vote getters regardless of party affiliation advance to the general election. The current delegation favors the Democrats 28-15. In the Chico-based 1st District, look for GOP incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Doug LaMalfa (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’L000578′ ] to retain his seat over Heidi Hall. In the north central based 3rd District, Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. John Garamendi (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’G000559′ ] is vulnerable to defeat at the hands of Republican Dan Logue. The primary was a very close race and one suspects the same on November 4th. If Garamendi prevails, as I believe he will, the margin of victory will be in the low 50 range.
In the Sacramento-based 7th District, Democratic incumbent [mc_name name=’Rep. Ami Bera (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’B001287′ ] faces a tough one also. He will face Republican Doug Ose in November. If the primaries are any indication, then Bera will go down to defeat. Unlike many other urban areas of California, support for Obama and his policies is not that great in the Sacramento area. I am predicting a Republican victory here in a very close race that may come down to absentee ballots. Meanwhile, in the sparsely populated but huge 8th District, Republican [mc_name name=’Rep. Paul Cook (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001094′ ] should be reelected. Some Republicans believe that [mc_name name=’Rep. Jerry McNerney (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001166′ ] can be defeated in the Ninth by Tony Amador. This writer says forget about that; it is staying Democratic.
Likewise, some Democrats believe that Republican incumbent Jeff Denham is vulnerable in the 10th. Again, incumbency has its advantages and I expect Denham to retain his seat with no less than 53% of the vote. Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. George Miller (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M000725′ ] is vacating the 11th District having served in Congress since 1975. This district is considerably Democratic and Mark DeSaulnier should keep it that way. Freshman Republican David Valadeo faces reelection in the 21st District. This is a borderline district that slightly favors the Republican Party (Cook +2, me +3 GOP). Prior to the June primary, polling indicated that Democrat John Hernandez would have made a stronger opponent, but instead Amanda Renteria will be the candidate. This writer believes Valadeo will prevail with at least 56% of the vote.
[mc_name name=’Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001036′ ] represents the central coast 24th District which includes Santa Barbara. She has been in Congress since 2003. She will be opposed by Chris Mitchum, the son of actor Rod Mitchum. In the primary, Capps was held below the magical 50% mark indicating voters may be looking for a change here. However, I feel there is enough of a Democratic slant in this district to state the change will not come in the form of a Republican candidate. Hence, [mc_name name=’Rep. Lois Capps (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001036′ ] will prevail here. The 26th represents a different dynamic altogether. Represented by Democrat Julia Bownley, she essentially tied the Republican, Jeff Gorell, in the primary. If that trend holds up with a little push from above, this district can flip. Primary turnout was relatively high compared to other districts in California’s primary. To me, this indicates that Brownley may have reached her peak. Going a limb here, but I am predicting a Gorell victory. If she prevails, it will be very close.
Redistricting has totally altered the 31st District held by Republican [mc_name name=’Rep. Gary Miller (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’M001139′ ]. He has opted for retirement. Cook rates it +5 Democratic; I have it +14 Democratic. Paul Chabot, the Democratic candidate should win this race against Republican Pete Aguilar in a close race. The 33rd is being vacated by Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’W000215′ ] (good riddance) and this area is so Democratic that the next representative will be Democrat Ted Leiu, although Republican Elan Carr “won” the primary. That was a crowded primary and those numbers will not hold.
Republican [mc_name name=’Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000487′ ] represents the Orange County based 39th District which Cook rates +5 for the GOP but I rate even. Normally, that would give me cause for concern. Redistricting has definitely changed these more conservative enclaves surrounding LA. In very low turn out, [mc_name name=’Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’R000487′ ] trounced 2nd place finisher, Democrat Peter Anderson with 70% of the vote in a two man race. Although not expecting that much of a blow out, Royce is high profile and popular enough to keep this seat for the GOP with about 60% of the vote. Based in the Inland Empire, the 41st is represented by Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. Mark Takano (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’T000472′ ] who will face Republican Steve Adams in November. From available polling and the primary results there is every indication this will be a close race either way. However, incumbency has its advantages and I am predicting Takano to keep this seat by the skin of his teeth.
Republican [mc_name name=’Rep. John Campbell (R-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001064′ ] is vacating the 45th District which involves a large chunk of Orange County. Again, redistricting has changed the political landscape in this area. In relatively high turnout for a primary, Republican Mimi Walters came out on top against Democrat Drew Leavens. Cook and I are in general agreement here with a Republican slant. Taken together, Mimi Walters will win this seat.
Finally, perhaps the greatest chance of a GOP pick up overall in California is the 52nd District based in San Diego. Incumbent Democrat [mc_name name=’Rep. Scott Peters (D-CA)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’P000608′ ] will have his hands full defeating Republican Carl DeMaio. If turnout is any indication from the primaries, the GOP will prevail here. Republican candidates (there were 3) garnered 68,000 votes to Peters’ 53,000. Although I am not predicting that large of a margin of victory, I am predicting a DeMaio victory. That brings the net total GOP pick up of seats to two in California
Thus, the GOP picks up one House seat out of Utah. In California, they lose the 31st, but gain the 26th and 52nd for one seat out of California also. Overall to this point, I am predicting a net gain of three seats for the GOP in the House.
There are two questions of interest on the California ballot. The first- Proposition 45- would require public disclosure and state approval before any insurance premium increases, and would eliminate prior coverage or credit history to be a consideration in coverage. The more information to the consumer, the better I say. Also, the credit history/prior coverage issue has some merit. Many people, for example, are denied employment because of their credit history which may have absolutely no bearing on their ability to pay a premium today.
The second- Proposition 47- would reduce the penalties for non-serious, non-violent crimes by reclassifying them to misdemeanors. This would include crimes like petty theft and drug possession. People with previous convictions for violent crimes would not be included. It would also be retroactive meaning that as many as 10,000 current California prisoners would be eligible to have their sentences reduced and possibly released from jail.
The devil is in the details and there is the possibility that some potentially violent criminals will slip through the cracks. On the other hand, it makes little sense to imprison non-violent criminals in an already overburdened prison system. If approved, it is a state experiment worth watching.
Next: We move slightly east to Arizona and Nevada.