Monday, June 9, 2014

A Republican Upset in CD-43? Anything is Possible

Maxine Waters
Rep. Maxine Waters
Can a Republican defeat incumbent liberal Democrat Maxine Waters?

Anything is possible, but probability is crucial to a politician getting the votes to win an election.

Waters represents a seat with a 59% Democratic registration, followed by an evenly-split Republican-Independent affiliation. Still, Decline to State voters slightly outnumber Republicans in the district, and the eastern party of Torrance remains a more Democratic (although conservative) stronghold. Why else did Jane Harman manage to retain her Congressional seat for two decades while holding a moderate voice on key issues?

In prior decades, Waters' district encompassed primarily South Los Angeles. Now she represents LAX, Westchester (heavily Republican), along with more conservative Torrance and Lomita.

For the first time in her political career, she has had to tone down her heated conflict-theory rhetoric. With a majority-Latino seat, plus white and Asian minorities to consider, the long-standing African-American activist Democrat had to reach out to all voters, not just focus on radical race politics.

For the first in her political career, she advertised her campaign in the local press as well as with posters and lawn signs. Even driving through heavily Democratic Hawthorne, CA, one would find Waters' fliers and signs throughout.

Congressional District 43 -- Maxine Waters
In 2012, she faced off against another Democrat, Bob Flores, who earned 40% of the vote after the primary. He practically gave up the race after the primary, having no money or name ID to reach out to voters. Waters swept the seat with 70% of the vote in November (with help from President Obama's Organizing for Action push a few weeks before Election Day).

This election cycle, Democrat Maxine is facing off against former Dem-turned-GOP John Wood,  a Jordan Downs resident with ties to the community and a youthful ambition tempered with clear yet amenable rhetoric.

Reaching out to all voters, speaking in churches throughout the district, Wood is running a positive campaign, albeit with very little campaign cash, to get out the vote for a new voice to represent South LA in Washington.

Following the June 3rd primary, Wood took in a respectable 32% of the vote, not as good as Democrat Bob Flores in 2012, but compelling for a Republican of any stripe running in a heavily Democratic district.

Wood must have won Democratic and Independent votes to get that turnout, since his final results exceed the total number of registered Republicans, and more than likely not all Republicans voted to begin with.

Whatever it took to get registered Dems to pull for a GOP candidate, Wood needs to find out why and how to transform that small victory into a wider margin of support come November.

Anything is possible in politics, since the only poll and tally that counts is the final vote in November.  Republican Cherry farmer Andy Vidak won in a two-to-one Democratic district in 2013 and won again in  2014. Voters in the 43rd Congressional District are reliably conservative on social issues, since Prop 8, defending traditional marriage, passed by ten points in the region.

Capitalizing on the conservative cultural views with a positive message of job growth and economic recovery, a Republican with strong financial backing can compete effective in the district. Will John Wood have the necessary means to make his case to voters who have traditionally supported Maxine Waters for so many years?

With strong turnouts in Republican areas like Westchester (where Republican LA Mayoral candidate Kevin James did remarkably well) along with heavy voting in more conservative Lomita, Torrance, and the LA Harbor area, Anything is possible. A calculated ground game with time and resources must combine with proper, targeted outreach to convince long-standing Democratic constituencies, like the African-American and Latino vote, that their values are better represented by a Republican.

John Wood and Family

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