Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Election 2016: Scramble for CA-46

Now that Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (D-Santa Ana) has announced her bid for US Senate, the Democrats have two problems:

1. A bitter primary will divide the Democratic Party between Attorney General Kamala Harris and Rep. Loretta Sanchez. Another Democrat will probably declare for the seat in the next few months.

2. Democrats must defend another House Seat in expensive media-market California.

Just to recap, the National Republican Congressional Committee has already identified five 2016 "Donkey Awards" for vulnerable Democratic incumbents:

1. Scott Peters

2.  Raul Ruiz

3. Peter Aguilar

4. John Garamendi

5. Ami Bera

They left off one name, Julia Brownley of Ventura, who will find herself still facing heated challenges against her incumbency. Jeff Gorell nearly unseated her in 2014, and the district still has enough swing for a Republican to win.

Make that six seats for the Democrats to defend

With the retirement of Lois Capps in CD-24, Democrats will have to fight off another challenge, and the Santa Barbara sit is in prime position for Republicans to take another seat back into their dwindling caucus.


With Loretta Sanchez announcing her bid for US Senate this past week, Congressional District 46 has opened up. A more Democratic-leaning seat, one which Congresswoman Sanchez fought to keep three times, the Santa Ana seat takes in Anaheim, Orange, and Garden Grove.

Eight! (if the NRCC pays attention, they would also target Jim Costa, who nearly got ousted in 2014 against dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra: Nine.)

Unlike other swing seats, there is a deep bench from which Orange County Republicans can draw talent to capture the seat in 2016.

CD-46: Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange, Santa Ana

Let's look at the current partisan elected officials:

State Assembly

Travis Allen

Travis Allen could run for the Congressional seat, as his current assembly seat includes Garden Grove, although his representation veers toward the West, and not nearly as central as another assembly member. .
Young Kimg

Young Kim

She was just elected last year, and she unseated a one-term wonder Democratic incumbent Susan Quirk-Silva, herself the quirk of an unprepared political machine that turned out the vote more strongly than the Republicans in Orange County. Her district covers more area in the 46th Congressional District, as well, making her a better contender.

Kim has weathered a number of storms already, and she is a major part of the growing GOP  minority outreach which solidified conservative politics in the OC County Board of Supervisors.

If she wanted to seek higher office, she has the ground game and support to make that happen.

State Senate

Janet Nguyen

Janet Nguyen

Her state senate district neatly overlaps the Congressional District, and like Young Kim her rise in the OC Republican Party follows on the wings of the new outreach GOTV which has engaged Asian-American voters, many of whom ideologically and culturally identify with conservative, limited government, local control, pro-family values. Her influence in Santa Ana could help persuade otherswise disaffected Democratic voters to endorse and elect her in 2016, too.

The only question, however, is whether Nguyen, now elected to a four-year term, would give up a seat of greater size and influence for a smaller Congressional seat, and after serving only half of her first term. Recently-elected state senator Jim Moorlach would face similar questions about political mountaineering if he sought the Congressional seat, too.

City Council

If the above partisan officials are not interested in replacing Loretta Sanchez, then perhaps one of a number of local city council members would be interested. Unlike other embattled regions of the state of California, Orange County local leadership is brimming over with a deep bench of political contenders.

The Sanchez Seat covers four major cities: Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange, and Santa Ana. Could a local official, with minority status, possibly vie for and win Sanchez' seat?

Anaheim City Council

None of the members of the city council are minorities, yet that alone should not preclude any one of them from being competitive.

Garden Grove City Council

Photo of City Council Member Christopher Phan
Christopher Phan
Christopher Phan was elected in 2012, and would have to decide if he wanted to run for reelection or run for Congress. He has served one term already.

Photo of Council Member Phat Bui
Phat Bui

Councilman Bui has lived Garden Grove longer than Phan. He has business as well as mathematics/engineering background. Would his prior experience make him a suitable contender for Congress? Does he want the job?

Orange City Council

Mike Alvarez
 Mike Alvarez has served two full terms on the Orange City Council. He has extensive local experience based on his resume. Surely he could relay his local victories into a Congressional win in 2016. He will have finished his third term in 2016, and with his strong record in Orange City, could he build on the machine laid out by Young Kim and Janet Nguyen, plus aggressive outreach to Santa Ana Hispanic votes, and win the CD-46?

 Santa Ana City Council

At this time, there is no present knowledge regarding whether any members of the Santa Ana city council are Republicans. Chances are that none of them at this time would run under the GOP ticket The city had a 70% Latino population earlier last decade, and the demographics have certainly changed since then. Now that Republicans have made major inroads with the Asian-Pacific Islander communities in OC, perhaps they can start working on their outreach with Latinos, particularly in Santa Ana. For that reason, in part, Mr. Alvarez would be a welcome candidate for Congress, if he was interested in the position.

Final Remarks

California Democrats will have to fight to hold or retain eight to nine Congressional seats in 2016. Even though the higher turnout may favor their chances, the fact that the party, whether at the state or federal level, must spend some much time and treasure should give CA Republicans, already gaining a small yet steady foothold back in state politics, more space to grow.

CD-46: Anaheim, Garden Grove, Orange, Santa Ana
One possibility which cannot be overlooked, of course, is CD-46. Sanchez has already gaffed twice in the past week (hesitant on her US Senate announcement, and then the famous war cry at the CA Democratic convention). Republicans with a stronger hand and presence in Orange County should not miss this open seat.

1 comment:

  1. One error: - The NRCC is targeting CD-26 - Julie Brownley's seat too.