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June 6, 2006 8:11 AM CDT

Critical California Races

By

As you are all aware today there will be a runoff or special general election for California's 50th Congressional District Seat. An open special election was held on April 11, 2006. The top vote getter was Democrat Francine Busby, who won 44% of the vote. The second place finisher was Republican Brian Bilbray, who won 15% of the vote. Paul King was the top Libertarian party vote getter, with 0.6% of the vote. Since no candidate received a simple majority, the top vote-getters in each party will compete tomorrow in a runoff or special general election. Also, being held tomorrow is the California statewide primary election.

The race for the 50th district is a highly anticipated race for both parties and is being watched closely by political pundits in Washington. Since Democrats need only 15 seats to regain a majority in the House, the outcome of this race is being closely watched. In addition, all Congressional District seats are to be voted on in November, below is a brief summary of the races which are to be voted on tomorrow during the primary election.

I want to encourage you all to get out and vote, this is a critical time for our industry and we must make sure that our voices are heard.

California's 50th Congressional District
Due to the resignation of Congressman Duke Cunningham, whoever wins the special election tomorrow will take office immediately to fill the vacancy left by Cunningham. Therefore, someone will be the Incumbent in November when the general election is held. As stated earlier a primary special election to fill the vacancy took place on April 11, 2006. Since no candidate won 50% of the vote, a runoff will be held on June 6, 2006 between the top vote-getter of each party. The main candidates are Republican Brian Bilbray, a former Congressman, and Democrat Francine Busby, a Cardiff School Board Trustee. These candidates are also running in the simultaneous primary election for the following full term that will be decided in the November general election. This district includes the northern suburbs of San Diego and leans Republican. Recent polling conducted by a Republican firm has shown Busby leading Bilbray by 43% to 37%; a poll by Survey USA shows Busby and Bilbray tied at 45% each, and one by a Democratic pollster puts Busby ahead at 47% to 40%. Complicating the race is the fact that the primary for the general election happens to be on the same day as the special election runoff. The more conservative Eric Roach, who lost to moderate Bilbray in the primary special election by a margin of 15.3% to 14.5%, will be on the primary election ballot though he has announced he is not "aggressively" campaigning. Millionaire Bill Hauf has been seriously campaigning against Bilbray in the primary, which could pull resources away from Bilbray in the runoff.

California's 11th Congressional District
This race includes incumbent Richard Pombo (R). Pombo is being challenged by a fellow Republican former Representative Pete McCloskey. The eleventh district is located in the San Joaquin Valley well east of the San Francisco Bay Area and leans Republican. A recent poll shows Pombo losing to both Democratic challengers in November-Democratic challenger Steve Filson 49-41 and Jerry McNerney, 46-42

California's 22nd Congressional District
Incumbent Republican Bill Thomas, a prominent and influential member of the Republican caucus, is retiring after more than 25 years in Congress. He represents agricultural Central Valley, a Republican stronghold where 52% of voters are registered Republicans and 30% are Democrats. He won re-election in 2004 unopposed. Republican Leader of the California Assembly, Kevin McCarthy has announced his run for the GOP nomination.

California's 24th Congressional District
Incumbent Elton Gallegly (R) who originally announced his retirement just hours before the filing deadline, much to the shock of the local political establishment, is facing a primary challenger Michael Tenenbaum. The 62-year-oldGallegly, a ten-term congressman cited "unresolved health issues" for his decision. Gallegly had already filed and would have remained on the ballot. The late withdrawal meant that no additional candidates could file for the seat. After substantial pressure, coming even from the White House, Gallegly announced he would indeed run for one more term after receiving clearance from his physician. It is unclear how voters will view the retirement/unretirement. However, Gallegly handily won with 60 percent of the vote here in his last election. The district covers inland areas of Santa Barbara County and Ventura County in the Los Angeles suburbs, including Thousand Oaks, California. Rev. Jill Martinez is running on the Democrats' side.

California's 26th Congressional District
Incumbent David Dreier (R) faces Sonny Sardo in the Republican primary. Democrats Russ Warner and Cynthia Matthews will face off in the Democratic primary. The district has also had a slight narrowing of the Republican registration advantage since 2002.

California's 41st Congressional District
Incumbent Republican Jerry Lewis (R) has no primary challenger but will face a tough race in November against Louie Contreras.


About the Author

Jessica Johnson Bennett was the Director of Government Affairs for MCAA. She has an extensive background in public affairs and government relations. Her expertise in strategic planning, PAC management and operations help on key policy issues.

 

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