In spite of the registration disadvantage, Miller faced off in the Top Two against another Republican, and handily won reelection.
The prospects of two Republicans duking it out flailed last week. Redlands Mayor Peter Aguilar (the Democrat) will challenge Paul Chabot (the Republican), and for all intensive purposes, a Democrat may pick up this seat.
I contacted the Paul Chabot campaign, and surprisingly enough, I got in touch with Paul directly.
Right away, the leading primary vote-getter is more excited about this race than dejected:
About the Democratic registration edged, he qualified: "These are conservative, family oriented Democrats."
About his plans for turning out the vote and winning in November, Chabot claimed:
We will continue what we did during the primary. We picked up four percent of the Dem vote, without reaching out to any Democrats. These are not far-left liberals -- these are hard-working, middle of the road blue dog Democrats. That really excites me because my background is military and law enforcement, and I patrol many cities throughout this district.
Enthusiastic and committed are necessary conditions for a strong campaign, but are they sufficient for a winning strategy?
I love this challenge.
He cited a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee poll for this data.
He then shared his background:
I am listed as a military officer: thirteen years in the Navy, military agency office, tour in Iraq Joint special ops, naval reserves. This is the kind of challenge that the Republican party needs, that we can connect with these Moderate Democrats. We just launched "Democrats for Chabot" with Bishop Ron Allen, President International Faith-Based Coalition.
|Democrat Bishop Ron Allen|
and Paul Chabot Supporter
We were outspent 11 to 1.
With all that money, Aguilar slipped into the Top Two. With such a heavy money machine, who knows what the Democrats will do in the general election. . .
He related other factors which strengthen his changes of carrying this Democratic-leaning district:
Voters are getting the option to elect a military veteran and a family man.
He cited that CD-31 contains one of the highest concentration of military veterans. Why? There used to be a number of military bases in this area, including a large VA hospital in Loma Linda. The housing is more affordable in the Inland Empire compared to Los Angeles.
Chabot discussed his work for President Clinton (Presidential Fellow, Office of National Drug Control Policy) and Bush (Senior Advisor" Local State Law Enforcement and Drug Control Programs), which he argued can demonstrate to voters his ability to work on non-political issues.
About his political views Chabot describes himself as a Christian Conservative, pro-life Republican, suppports the Second Amendment, favors reducing taxes, government regulations, and encouraging small businesses to grow. For years, he stressed improving service to veterans, even before the VA scandals broke this year. He calls Obamacare "a train wreck", citing the terrible treatment of US veterans in government hospitals, but acknowledges that aside from a new President in 2016, he supports getting rid of the unpopular law piece by piece, starting with the individual mandate.
About immigration reform, he firmly declared that he is not in favor of amnesty, but is looking for a humane way to deal with immigration issue. In addition to securing the border, he wants to invest in solving the core problems of security and corruption which drive immigrants to flee their home countries.
About Marriage: I believe in one man and one woman. I am a Christian. I have friends who are gay - I have no objections to the unions.
Republicans could look at this district the same way that they view Senate District 16, now 14, which cherry farmer Andy Vidak won with a stable margin in 2013, and wide sweep this year. However, prior results for statewide and federal offices indicate that this state was not just a swing, but a seat which will more easily fall in place with the Dems.
For all intensive purposes, if Republicans rely primarily on GOP Get Out the Vote in this district, then they might as well say "See You Later" and focus on more winnable districts. If they can tap into Chabot's enthusiasm, drum up support from Democratic voters, who tend conservative on key issues, then the most contested district in the country may not be so easily swayed to the Democratic Party, after all.
Time and money will answer many of these questions in the months to come.