California Dems eating their own in bid for House takeover

An unusual – one could say unique – situation has arisen in California, as Democrats are scrambling to take as many House seats from Republicans as they can in order to give a boost to their national effort to retake the House.

Liberals in the Golden State are fired up against Donald Trump and are hoping for a huge turnout on primary day next Tuesday.  But California's open primary system means that the top two finishers, regardless of party, will square off in the November election.

What is worrying liberals in the state as well as in the national party and outside groups is that several districts have three, four, even five strong candidates running for a House seat.  There is a real danger that the liberals will split the vote so many ways that a Republican could sneak through and win anyway.

This has resulted in the state and national parties going after their own candidates who may be down in the polls in hopes of avoiding a nightmare scenario where one or even two Republicans could be vying for the district in the fall.

CNN:

Campaign strategists and outside groups have resorted to an elaborate series of chess moves in which they have battered third, fourth and even fifth-tier candidates to drive down voter support for those contenders in the hopes of avoiding a splintering of the vote.

California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte pointed to the outside spending by Democrats in the race for retiring Congressman Ed Royce's seat in Orange County as the best evidence of Democratic fears.

The fight for Royce's seat was complicated by the fact that the two self-funded Democrats, Andy Thorburn and Gil Cisneros, had pummeled one another with such force that the California Democratic Party had to intervene to broker a truce.

As outside groups poured more than $3 million into California races last week alone, the independent arm of the DCCC spent more than $200,000 against Republican Bob Huff and nearly $142,000 on ads against his GOP rival Shawn Nelson to knock them from contention for second place.

There are similar maneuvers going on in the race for governor where Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is the clear frontrunner, but Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor, is targeting Republican candidate John Cox, who was endorsed by Trump, as they compete for the second slot.

Some of Newsom's commercials appear to attack Cox, but the underlying message that Cox is a hardline conservative could actually help shore up Cox's support and ensure his spot on the November ballot.

It is highly unusual for a national or state party to sabotage the campaign of any of its candidates.  But that's the dilemma facing Californian Democrats.  There are seven districts in the state won by Republicans in 2016 that were also won by Hillary Clinton.  Democrats, quite rightly, believe that those districts are ripe for the taking. 

But as the progressive vote splinters, more radical candidates gain an advantage.  Their followers are more enthusiastic than establishment Democratic supporters, and they threaten to upset the applecart even more by presenting voters with an unelectable Democratic candidate in November.

Certainly, Democrats have a huge advantage going into the primary.  Republicans are badly outnumbered, although most of their incumbents are adequately funded.  The best possible scenario would be a loss of one or two GOP-held seats in the state, which would almost certainly deny national Democrats a House takeover.

An unusual – one could say unique – situation has arisen in California, as Democrats are scrambling to take as many House seats from Republicans as they can in order to give a boost to their national effort to retake the House.

Liberals in the Golden State are fired up against Donald Trump and are hoping for a huge turnout on primary day next Tuesday.  But California's open primary system means that the top two finishers, regardless of party, will square off in the November election.

What is worrying liberals in the state as well as in the national party and outside groups is that several districts have three, four, even five strong candidates running for a House seat.  There is a real danger that the liberals will split the vote so many ways that a Republican could sneak through and win anyway.

This has resulted in the state and national parties going after their own candidates who may be down in the polls in hopes of avoiding a nightmare scenario where one or even two Republicans could be vying for the district in the fall.

CNN:

Campaign strategists and outside groups have resorted to an elaborate series of chess moves in which they have battered third, fourth and even fifth-tier candidates to drive down voter support for those contenders in the hopes of avoiding a splintering of the vote.

California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte pointed to the outside spending by Democrats in the race for retiring Congressman Ed Royce's seat in Orange County as the best evidence of Democratic fears.

The fight for Royce's seat was complicated by the fact that the two self-funded Democrats, Andy Thorburn and Gil Cisneros, had pummeled one another with such force that the California Democratic Party had to intervene to broker a truce.

As outside groups poured more than $3 million into California races last week alone, the independent arm of the DCCC spent more than $200,000 against Republican Bob Huff and nearly $142,000 on ads against his GOP rival Shawn Nelson to knock them from contention for second place.

There are similar maneuvers going on in the race for governor where Democratic Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom is the clear frontrunner, but Democrat Antonio Villaraigosa, the former Los Angeles mayor, is targeting Republican candidate John Cox, who was endorsed by Trump, as they compete for the second slot.

Some of Newsom's commercials appear to attack Cox, but the underlying message that Cox is a hardline conservative could actually help shore up Cox's support and ensure his spot on the November ballot.

It is highly unusual for a national or state party to sabotage the campaign of any of its candidates.  But that's the dilemma facing Californian Democrats.  There are seven districts in the state won by Republicans in 2016 that were also won by Hillary Clinton.  Democrats, quite rightly, believe that those districts are ripe for the taking. 

But as the progressive vote splinters, more radical candidates gain an advantage.  Their followers are more enthusiastic than establishment Democratic supporters, and they threaten to upset the applecart even more by presenting voters with an unelectable Democratic candidate in November.

Certainly, Democrats have a huge advantage going into the primary.  Republicans are badly outnumbered, although most of their incumbents are adequately funded.  The best possible scenario would be a loss of one or two GOP-held seats in the state, which would almost certainly deny national Democrats a House takeover.