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This series will start with a brief overview of CA-42, and why my friend Tim Sheridan is running here.  In future posts, I’ll dig into the numbers and analyze why CA-42 is winnable, describe the numerous shortcomings of Ken Calvert, discuss Tim’s background, platform, and overall campaign strategy, and explain why he is a good fit for CA-42.

Disclaimer:  In addition to being personal friends, I have worked with Tim at the same Union for 13 years, and my wife is currently serving as Treasurer for his campaign.  I am not formally associated with the campaign, however.  I am just writing these because I want to help generate support and enthusiasm for someone who I know will be a great progressive Democrat in Congress.

I have been a long-time lurker here at Daily Kos, ever since the Washington Post ran an article featuring Daily Kos and a couple other blogs back in 2003 or so.  I’ve posted a few diaries, and commented a bit, but mostly I read what others have written.  This is my first attempt at a serious analysis of a congressional race, so please bear with me.  All errors are entirely my own.

CA-42 was created as part of the redistricting process following the 2012 elections. The process was overseen by a non-partisan commission, which generally worked in Democrats’ favor.  However, CA-42 still remains a reliably red district, with an R+10 lean. It encompasses almost all of Riverside County.

2012    President
Romney 56.5 - Obama 41.4%

United States House of Representatives elections, 2012
Party            Candidate                       Votes    Percentage
Republican  Ken Calvert (incumbent)  130,245    60.6%
Democratic Michael Williamson       84,702    39.4%
Totals                                       214,947    100.0%

Despite Ken Calvert's 20 point win, that number is a bit misleading because of the dynamics in the 2012 election.  Calvert was first elected to Congress in 1992, but only began representing this district in 2013 following the decennial redistricting plan mentioned above.  The Cook Political Report listed Calvert as one of the top 10 most vulnerable Republicans in 2012 because of the high Latino population in the newly drawn CA-42 district.

However, the DCCC did not recruit a well-funded candidate to challenge Calvert.  So Riverside County Democrats were left to vote an unknown challenger, Michael Williamson, who is a former Republican who switched parties, and still holds conservative views on most fiscal issues.  Williamson managed to receive 39% of the vote, but that speaks more to Calvert’s weakness.   Williamson’s campaign suffered from several weaknesses: 1) low fundraising (Williamson did not raise enough to require filing with the FEC for the 2012 election cycle); 2) minimal grassroots enthusiasm; and 3) Williamson doesn’t actually live in the district (CA does not have a residency requirement).

I’ll go into more detail on the demographics of CA-42 in another post, but it’s important to note that the district is now 38% Hispanic, and the Latino community is rapidly growing.  This demographic fact, combined with Calvert publicly anti-“amnesty” attitude towards immigration makes him vulnerable to a strong Democratic challenger.  

Calvert’s campaign website states:

The worst step we can take is to grant amnesty to people who entered our country illegally. I oppose amnesty because it sends a horrible message to those who entered our country legally and to those thinking about immigrating to America in the future.

Why Tim Sheridan is running

Tim is a long-time resident of Menifee, CA in Riverside County. He has been involved in Democratic politics for years, and currently serves as the Democratic State Central Committee AD 67 Executive Board Representative and Co-Chair of the Riverside County Democratic Party's Ways and Means Committee.  He is also a member of the Executive Board of the Democratic Club of Southwest Riverside County.

He grew up in Syracuse, NY, in a blue-collar pro-union household.  Tim developed a taste for politics early – he’s an avid fan of presidential history – and has been planning to run for Congress for a few years now.  For the last 17 years, Tim has worked for an independent union representing Federal employees.

Tim is running now because it’s clearer than ever that Congress is broken.  The Tea Party Republicans are willing to destroy the country in their obsession to defeat Obama.  Back bencher Republicans like Ken Calvert are part of the “Do Nothing” caucus that has enabled the Tea Party caucus to bring America to the brink of financial ruin.  

Gerrymandering has made it more difficult than ever for Democrats to re-take the House, but it’s important to drill down to find districts like CA-42 which are far more vulnerable for Republicans than the topline R+10 rating would make it appear.  Tim has done his research, and he believes this is a winnable race.

His politics are solidly progressive, but he is relentlessly focused on issues that appeal to the majority of Riverside Country residents.  His platform consists of five major issues:  

1.    Bringing better paying jobs to Riverside County by: a) raising the minimum wage; and b) increased Federal investment in domestic infrastructure, especially for alternative energy. Riverside County, as part of the Inland Empire, is already investing in solar and wind power, so this position would bring jobs and business investment opportunities directly to the residents of CA-42.
2.    Immigration reform, to provide a reasonable path to citizenship (1 or 2 years, not 13 years as is currently being proposed in Congress).
3.    Re-authorizing Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act.  Republican efforts to disenfranchise voters are absolutely unacceptable.
4.    Taking government intrusion away from women, who should have complete control of their own bodies.
5.    Appropriate use of the military.  Long-term wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have not served the best interests of the US.  In addition, troubled areas like Syria and Somalia have problems that can’t be easily addressed by military intervention, and may actually harm long-term US interests.  Instead, Tim supports raising the pay and benefits for the men and women serving in our Armed Forces.  It’s unacceptable that the families of active duty soldiers sometimes have to rely on public assistance.

It’s no mistake that Tim is making jobs and immigration reform his top issues. He has focused his professional career on improving the lives of workers, and the residents of Riverside County deserve a Representative who will stay focused on providing expanded opportunities for them.

Tim has the ability to connect national issues to local interests that have direct relevance to the residents of Riverside County.  This makes him a good fit for CA-42.  

Originally posted to greenlabormike on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 12:18 PM PDT.

Also republished by California politics.

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