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Thanks to California's new top-two primary system, where the two highest vote-getters in the primary advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, we have a number of hotly contested, same-party elections on tap for November. Louisiana, which uses a similar "jungle primary" system, also has one such race. Even though party control of these seats isn't at stake, we wanted to rate these contests in the same way we do classic D-vs.-R affairs. But these intra-party battles don't fit neatly on to our big board, so we've decided to write up our assessments as a stand-alone. As with our regular race ratings, though, we'll keep these updated throughout the fall as events warrant.

Here are our initial takes (note that for California, we've put each candidate's share in the primary in parentheses after their names):

CA-08 (R): Gregg Imus (16%) vs. Paul Cook (15%). Likely Cook. Imus actually edged Cook as both men limped into the second round in this decidedly red open seat with tiny pluralities (thanks to a 13-person candidate field), but Cook, a state Assemblyman, is definitely the establishment favorite. His fundraising has been pretty lackluster, though (just $255K), but Imus, an anti-immigration activist and one-time Assembly staffer, is raising Some Dude-level money (only $62K). Still, an upset can't be ruled out, if Imus can motivate the conservative base.

CA-15 (D): Rep. Pete Stark (42%) vs. Eric Swalwell (36%). Tossup. Perhaps the most interesting race on this list, the octogenarian Stark has made himself vulnerable after a very long career thanks to a recent explosion in unhinged outbursts. Earlier this year, Stark made insane accusations that Swalwell, a Dublin city councilor, had taken bribes from developers, and things have gone downhill for him ever since, with a number of longtime allies abandoning him. Swalwell's actually outraised the incumbent, but Stark is still regarded as a liberal lion and old sentiments can die hard. But the redrawn 15th, while still very blue, is less so than Stark's old 13th, and he only represents 47% of the new seat's constituents, so this race is very much up for grabs.

CA-30 (D): Rep. Brad Sherman (42%) vs. Rep. Howard Berman (32%). Lean Sherman. Redistricting set up a clash between two titanic figures with very similar records in this dark blue district, though on paper, things have always looked bad for Berman. He represents a mere 20% of the new 30th versus 58% for Sherman, and that disparity was reflected in the primary results. That said, Berman is a lot more popular among the political classes, with endorsements from almost the entire California delegation and nearly all of Hollywood lining up to help him. And he's outraised Sherman, too, an eye-popping $3.5 mil to $2.7 mil. But Berman had to spend almost all his cash ensuring he'd earn the second spot in the top-two while Sherman was able to husband his resources. That's left Sherman with a huge money edge, $3 mil to just $447K. Berman's also been trolling pretty hard for Republican support lately, making him look a bit desperate. All this adds up to a Sherman edge.

CA-31 (R): Rep. Gary Miller (27%) vs. Bob Dutton (25%). Lean Miller. Thanks to an epic Democratic screwup, two Republicans advanced to the second round in this swingish seat that gave Obama 56% of the vote. Even weirder, Miller's carpetbagged into the new 31st, meaning he's not a normal incumbent with a natural base of support. And because this is a general election, someone is going to have to make a play for the huge pool of Democratic voters who might hold their noses in disgust and cast a vote for the "least bad" Republican. It seems like it's Dutton, a state senator, who's been dipping his toe in those waters more than Miller—he's announced a few endorsements from local Democrats, including a state senator. Miller naturally has the support of the national GOP and probably wants to just go with what he knows. Dutton has very little money, but this race is so bizarre it's hard to predict what'll happen.

CA-35 (D): Rep. Joe Baca (45%) vs. Gloria Negrete McLeod (36%). Likely Baca. While Baca didn't quite dominate in the first round in this blue district, he doesn't bring nearly as much baggage to the race as someone like, say, Pete Stark. Negrete McLeod, a state senator, hasn't raised much, but Baca only has about twice as much cash on hand ($191K to $82K). Baca's record is not exactly spotless, though: You may recall an incident several years ago where Rep. Loretta Sanchez and several other lawmakers quit the Congressional Hispanic Caucus after Baca reportedly called Sanchez a "whore." (Baca denied doing so.) If Sanchez and her allies decide they want some payback, Negrete McLeod could provide them with an opportunity.

CA-44 (D): Rep. Janice Hahn (60%) vs. Rep. Laura Richardson (40%). Likely Hahn. The top-two primary results in this dark blue seat really say it all, and no one will be sorry to see the ethically-embattled Richardson go. Her one prayer is that, with Obama on the top of the ticket, black voters turn out in force. But the district's voters are only 28% African-American, so this really seems like a bridge too far. You could call this seat "Safe Hahn" and we probably wouldn't really argue with you.

LA-03 (R): Rep. Charles Boustany vs. Rep. Jeff Landry. Lean Boustany. Landry, a tea party outsider, was never supposed to win the primary for the LA-03 open seat in 2010, but he did so—and in convincing fashion. But that just gave the GOP-held legislature the perfect target when it came time to eliminate a seat during redistricting. So they created a mashup in which Boustany, a veteran who currently serves the about-to-disappear 7th District, represents over three-quarters of the population; Landry only represents the balance. Boustany has double the cash (about $2 mil to $1 mil), but Landry has conservative enthusiasm powering him, which his establishment-backed opponent lacks. Boustany appears to be the favorite, but given Landry's history of unlikely victories, you can't write him off. Note that if neither man clears 50% on November 6, the top two finishers (regardless of party) will head to a Dec. 1 runoff.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (6+ / 0-)

    Political Director, Daily Kos

    by David Nir on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:00:04 AM PDT

  •  CA-30 (0+ / 0-)

    My district. The Dems here are requesting that we vote Dutton because Miller has more seniority, so it would be easier for us - in the next election, presuming we aren't stupid again - to take out Dutton that it would to take out an entrenched Miller.

    I am progressive. I am liberal. I make no apologies. - Kos

    My political compass: - 8.38,-6.97

    by pucklady on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:46:34 AM PDT

    •  CA-31 (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      GoUBears, pucklady, MichaelNY

      Wouldn't Miller be less electable due to his ethics issues?

      Living in Kyoto-06 (Japan), voting in RI-01, went to college in IL-01.

      by sapelcovits on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 06:51:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I would expect Miller to be less electable (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      Because he has a record going back to 1999, in addition to his personal issues.

      If I lived in the district though, I think I'd have to vote Dutton. I couldn't mark a ballot for someone so duplicitous, corrupt, and bigoted even if it would help my party picking up the district the next cycle.

      28, Male, MA-08 (hometown MI-06)

      by bumiputera on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 08:33:30 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I think Dutton will win. (0+ / 0-)

      I've thought so all along, and said so on DKE before the primary. He's known to voters, unlike the carpetbagging and corrupt Miller. And he's somewhat respected. As to whether he'd be easier to defeat two years from now, my guess is no. A strategic Democratic vote would probably go for Miller. A sincere Democratic vote for the best candidate of the two would go for Dutton. I live in the adjoining district (go Takano!), but if I lived here I'd vote for Dutton.

  •  It's time for Pete Stark to be retired (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY

    Yes, he has been a liberal icon, and all of us appreciate what he's done, but as you say in your write-up of the race, he's become unhinged.  His charges of taking bribes just went so far beyond anything acceptable -- unless you have evidence, his remarks were really close to being criminally liable.  In all seriousness and with all respect, I wonder of he's losing his mind.  A friend or family member should have stepped in and convinced him to retire, before he really embarasses himself.

    •  Criminally? No (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      But defamatory? Yes. And absolutely outrageous.

      Political Director, Daily Kos

      by David Nir on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 09:45:45 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  This site has been notable for its anger (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      at Stark, which may be well founded or may be exaggerated. But my question, which has yet to be answered and upon which my own choice would hinge, is what is Swalwell really like? Is he a pawn of developers and wealthy interests, as Stark believes? Or is he a misrepresented liberal? Until someone provides a factual, unemotional answer to those questions, I remain undecided.

      I do think that this is one race about which the analysis in DKE needs upgrading. As an aging but perfectly sentient person myself, I particularly resent the discourse of senility that has been used to attack Stark and that, at times, has been generalized to express disdain for all people over 65. Age, like race or gender or sexuality, tells you nothing in and of itself. If Stark has gone off the handle, who knows why? I hope we can avoid ad hominem stereotypes of the kind that litter right-wing thinking. Let's have some respect and decency, people.

      •  I don't disagree with you (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        stevenaxelrod, MichaelNY

        I did not mean to imply that he was "going crazy because he's old."  I have no problem with people serving in public office at any age -- Frank Lautenberg and Daniel Inouye are examples.  In my opinion, however, Stark has a history of saying pretty off-the-wall and at times unnecessarily nasty things.  Apologies to anyone who thought this came off as an attack on older people in general.

        •  Thanks for this. (0+ / 0-)

          I wasn't really thinking of your comment but other comments on earlier threads that I found insulting. Somehow agism is still OK for some, even on liberal sites. I'd ask them to just substitute a racial, class, gender, or sexual category and see how it sounds before pressing "post."

          One thinks the elderly are "other," but with any good luck, one will be there oneself one day. And one won't necessarily be demented, diminished, crazy, defending one's lawn, or yelling at clouds. Of course, one might be!

          Let's just say that Stark is responsible for his actions and not presume why he's done them without some evidence. Perhaps he always was hyperbolic. I still think there's an overreaction to him here. After decades of heroism, he deserves some slack.

          And I'm astonished at the total lack of information about Swallwell. People are ready to back him sight unseen. He could well be an Ellen Tauscher. And once in, he'd be hard to remove. I'm not saying Swalwell isn't the person we want. It's just that apparently none of us know a thing about him. I find this amazing on what is usually the most analytical, fact-driven, thoughtful political site around.

          Just my two cents. Thanks again for your kind comment.

  •  LA3 (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BENAWU, MichaelNY

    does have 5 candidates, 3 Rs (inc Physician Bryan Barilleaux), 1 D (attorney Ron Richard), and 1 Libertarian.

    Although the three less-prominent candidates are all from Lake Charles, and are less prominent. So they'd take votes from Boustany on 11/6.

    (Now, if math holds up, 3 Rs, including 2 prominent Rs, dividing up their vote could give the Dem enough to get 2nd place, but that would rely on the Dems just voting for the Dem instead of picking between Boustany and Landry)

    The Republican Party isn't a party of small government, it's a party of a government for the few. @bhindepmo

    by RBH on Wed Sep 19, 2012 at 10:01:32 AM PDT

  •  CA-30, both the "-ermans" (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, stevenaxelrod

    have been starting to push the 'bipartisan' meme recently, attempting to attract non-Dem votes.
    Both have trotted out a few Repub endorsements who are touting that bipartisan message.

    Bipartisanship! Everybody’s talking about it!

    And it makes sense from a campaign standpoint, because these are the most recent CA-30 registration numbers :

    47.9% D    25.7% R  , 20.8% No Party Preference

    So the 52% of non-Dem registered voters will likely be deciding  the race

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