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A strategy to take back and keep a House majority should be informed by a detailed strategy to improve our majority in the West (about 1/4th of the House).  Particularly for Western Dems in safe jurisdictions, support of aggressive offense in other, more moderate areas is important to acheiving progressive legislative goals. Here's the number of Dem-held seats in each state, and the number of total seats:

AK 0/1, HI 2/2, WA 6/10, OR 4/5, CA 38/53, AZ 5/9, NV 2/4, UT 1/4, ID 0/2, MT 0/1, WY 0/1, CO 3/7, NM 2/3, TX 2/2 (West tip only)=65/104 (27/51 ex-CA, 15/33 ex-PacRim states)

Here is an aggressive gain target:
AK+1, WA+2, CA+5, NV+2, MT+1, CO+2, NM+1=14 seat gain 79/104

While any seat can be won under the right circumstances with the right candidate, and every seat should be contested, some results are more likely than others.  Here is a list of 14 pickup opportunities with a more aggressive strategy than typically deployed.

AK: The at-large seat has the same electorate as Begich Senate seat.  Winning is mostly about 21-term incumbent Don Young, the R+12 PVI rating should not be off-putting.

WA: WA3 and WA8 are reasonable targets, given PVI R+2 and R+1, respectively

CA: At least 5 seats (31, 21, 10, 25, 45) are reasonable targets, and every seat should be contested.

NV:NV could reasonably be 4/4.  The 2 GOP seats are R+0 and R+5.

MT: The at-large seat is the same electorate represented by Tester.  This will be an open seat as GOP freshman Daines is running for Senate (Baucus open seat).

CO: Two seats could be reasonable contests.  CO6 is D+1, CO3 is R+5.

NM:NM could reasonably be 3/3.  The sole GOP rep sits at R+5.

Currently we are really contesting only the 8 best opportunities of those 14 seats.  We should continue to broaden the playing field to increase our upside and divert Republicans to defense.

Longshots: This leaves 25 seats where our prospects are minimal, even in a wave election.  Nonetheless, we should run credible candidates in those seats, and organize: to reduce the competitive gap, on the off-chance an incumbent resigns late or scandal arises, to help overlapping candidacies, to build a base for future efforts, etc.

Details for each state will be documented here over time.  High level details for CA have been added below the fold for this first re-publish.

Fri Dec 06, 2013 at  6:20 AM PT: Here's an update covering my 5 seat target list for an aggressive offense in CA

There are several Dem seats in play which must be defended as well, but here is a brief overview of GOP seats.

GOP currently holds: CA-1, 4, 8, 10, 21, 22, 23, 25, 31, 39, 42, 45, 48, 49, 50.

CA-31, in the Inland Empire, is a PVI D+5 seat which was a casualty of too broad a field of Democrats in the 2012 jungle primary.  The general ended up being two Republicans--OOPS.  This seat will go Dem in 2014, although Cook is being cautious and rates it as only Lean Dem, despite the sitting Republican Congressman.  The several local Dem machines are still squabbling over it, however.

CA-21, in the Central Valley near Hanford, is a D+2 seat which is 71% Hispanic and 80.7% minority.  It is represented by a freshman Republican (Valadao), from an Azorean (Central Valley says Portagee) dairy family, from Hanford who previously served in the state legislature.  His family background is the equivalent of membership in the squireocracy in the local economy.  He won because we nominated a useless candidate in 2012 (I contributed to that candidate after the nomination, but it was a vain hope).  We have a potentially decent candidate in Amanda Renteria and I expect this race to tighten after she goes into campaign mode, but Cook currently has it as lean GOP.  I am a Renteria contributor.

CA-10, a little further north, in the Modesto part of the Central Valley, is the 53% minority R+1 seat that Jose Hernandez failed to win last year, despite national backing, and a win here by Obama (Hernandez trailed Obama by 4 points).  The perception in the district that Hernandez was a carpetbagger seems to have enabled local farmer Jeff Denham to hang onto his 2010 seat in 2012.  We have a Michael Eggman as the front-runner on our side.  He has a small almond grove and a large (2000 hives) apiary, and is well known to the farming community.  His mother was a Mexican immigrant, and he is a strong supporter of immigration rights.  He is a proud graduate of Fresno State.  Frankly, he has a tough row to hoe in a mid-term election, he will have to turnout the minority community in high numbers, he may be helped by a slightly better split in that community than Hernandez, as well as a slightly better split in the white farming community, but the turnout is likely to kill him.  I am an Eggman contributor.

Some other seats, still rated solid R by Cook, are:

CA-25 (where McKeon may retire), which is an R+3 seat, now primarily Santa Clarita, and Palmdale.  Lee Rogers (a Simi Valley podiatrist) is making another run at the seat, has shown strong fundraising ability, and lost against a 10-term incumbent by a fairly low margin last time.  Also, there is a local council redistricting scandal going on in Palmdale which will probably energize the minority vote there.  If McKeon retires, Lee can probably win this open seat.  Other GOP candidates are lining up to run, supporting the belief that McKeon will call it quits. I am a Rogers contributor.

CA-45 is an R+7 open seat in Orange County.  To date we do not have a serious candidate, and the bench is not strong.  However, this is a 45% minority seat, if we can recruit the right candidate (well-heeled moderate Asian businessman with a service record would be the profile I'd look for, although young, educated, local minority war hero might also work), we'd have a chance, especially if there is a Dem wave.  Not running anybody serious in an open seat is a serious mistake.

We should also recruit for Orange County seats in CA-39 R+5 (66% minority), and CA-42 R+10 (54% minority), but the incumbents in both seats are quite strong and success would be unlikely unless they left office for some reason (Obama appointment, maybe).

1:32 PM PT: A little more on CA-25:

"Buck" McKeon was my rep from 2001 until this year.  I also covered almost the same (parts of 5 counties) area as his old district for my work.  Anyway, due to exurban population growth, he's LA county only, now, and I moved out of the district, anyway.  I still felt it was important to support any credible challenger to this man.  It's a dream come true that he may retire.

I used to tell people that I lived in a minority district but had an old, white, Mormon, war-mongering Republican banker and failed businessman as my Congressman.  He took the info about having been co-founder of a local bank in Santa Clarita off his website after the financial crisis.  He was a big part of why guaranteed student loans used to cost so much.  His wife used to be, maybe still is, permanantly "on his campaign staff" so that a big part of his family income is from campaign contributions.

2:01 PM PT: A little more on CA-31, this one's pretty much a slam dunk, but there is a broad field again:

Leading the field in fundraising on the Dem side is 2012's 3rd place finisher, Pete Aguilar, mayor of Redlands, supported by the DCCC..  However, an EMILY's List backed labor lawyer, Eloise Gomez Reyes, has also raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, and is running to Aguilar's left.  Former Rep Joe Baca is running to Aguilar's right, and Danny Tillman is the African American candidate in the race.  There are power bases behind each of these candidates.  Probably the only thing keeping Dems from repeating their 2012 idiocy is that with an incumbent on the GOP side, there's no strong GOP challenger to take 2nd place in the jungle primary. It seems unlikely that this seat will yield a Dem vs. Dem showdown given that the incumbent is GOP, so it behooves us to boost the right Dem into the general.

Sun Dec 08, 2013 at  4:17 PM PT: A little more on our challenger for CA-21: Amanda Renteria, 38, spent 2006-2013 in Washington on the staffs of Feinstein and Stabenow.  She was born and raised in Woodlake, CA to Mexican immigrant parents who came to the U.S. as farmworkers in the '60's and later started a small business, her mother Helen worked as a school secretary in Woodlake for 35 years and is on the school board since 2008.  Woodlake is slightly east of the district.  Renteria graduated from Woodlake High School (~150 graduating class) in 1992 as valedictorian and senior student athlete (All-Valley for softball and 2nd team All-Valley for basketball per Fresno Bee).  She double majored in economics and political science at Stanford while playing on the basketball and softball teams.  After Stanford she spent 3 years working as an analyst for Goldman Sachs in Los Angeles, then taught and coached high school for a year in Woodlake (2000-01), after which she attended Harvard Business School where she received her MBA in 2003.  She then entered the government sector, working for the city of San Jose, before transitioning to national politics in the office of DiFi.  She spent 5 years as Stabenow's chief of staff and led negotiations on last year's farm bill.  Her nomination to CFTC chair was reported to be imminent when she withdrew her name from consideration a few months ago amidst the Senate dysfunction on nominations  Today she lives with her husband and two small sons in Sanger, CA and has announced she is contesting the CA-21 seat..


Originally posted to benamery21 on Fri Dec 06, 2013 at 06:29 AM PST.

Also republished by California politics.

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