The Campaign Spot

Looking at This Year’s House Races in California…

Today is the filing deadline for federal candidates in California.
Despite having a gargantuan 53 House seats, you don’t usually see that many competitive House races in California, thanks to gerrymandering. The result is that lots and lots of House members have no real competition, and a bothersome amount – 15! – have no opposition from the other major party, as of yesterday. (Even Nancy Pelosi has drawn two Republicans, John Dennis and Dana Walsh.) 
Among those with no major party opposition this cycle, barring some last-minute entrant: Barbara Lee, Democrat of Oakland; Jackie Speier, Democrat of San Mateo; Anna Eshoo, Democrat of Palo Alto; Sam Farr, a Democrat of Monterey County; Devin Nunes, Republican of Visalia; Kevin McCarthy, Republican of Bakersfield; Xavier Becerra, Democrat of Los Angeles; Judy Chu, Democrat of Los Angeles; Lucille Roybal-Allard, Democrat of Los Angeles; Maxine Waters, Democrat of Los Angeles; Grace Flores Napolitano, Democrat of Santa Fe Springs; Ed Royce, Republican of Orange; Joe Baca, Democrat of San Bernadino and Duncan D. Hunter, Republican of El Cajon. Laura Richardson of has primary challengers but no GOP opponent.
Farr jumps out at me, since his district includes Salinas, with a mere 16.7 unemployment rate in the most recent numbers; as well as McCarthy, whose district includes part of Bakersfield, with a 15.8 percent unemployment rate.

There are a few House races worth watching in this state, most notably Republican state assemblyman Van Tran’s bid to unseat Loretta Sanchez. There was a bit of good news for him recently, as another Vietnamese Republican candidate, Quang Pham, withdrew from the race.

David Harmer, who over-performed in a tough 10th District special election last year, is running for the seat in the adjacent 11th; he faces Brad Goehring in the primary. (UPDATE: I’m told Elizabeth Emken is a candidate to watch in this seat, too.)

Turlock Irrigation District Board member Mike Berryhill might be an interesting candidate to watch out in the district of Dennis Cardoza, one of those Blue Dogs who is sweating the health care vote. Cardoza has a healthy fund raising advantage, but this a Central Valley district Bush actually won in 2004. (It’s the district Gary Dondit represented.)

Navraj Singh, an immigrant from India, starts out a big underdog in Brad Sherman’s Sherman Oaks district, but he’s shown some healthy fund-raising numbers. He ran in 2008 and garnered 25 percent against Sherman, spending $34,000; so far this cycle Singh has raised more than $212,000.

Finally, there’s one of my favorites, Nick Popaditch, who’s taking on Bob Filner in the 51st District, in the state’s southeastern corner. Popditch is a decorated Iraq War veteran who was famously photographed in this picture in the early days of the war:

Popaditch, smoking in Baghdad.

UPDATE: One other point worth mentioning about Popaditch’s bid to replace Filner; this district includes El Centro, California, where the unemployment rate is the highest in the nation: 27.7 percent.

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