House Democrats Suffer Setback in California
If current results in California hold, Democrats will be left without a general election candidate in one of their biggest House targets this November. It's just not the one people had their eyes on before Tuesday's all-party, top-two primary.
With 100 percent of precincts reporting in California's 31st District, two Republicans -- Rep. Gary Miller and state Sen. Bob Dutton -- lead a field of six candidates with 27 and 25 percent of the vote, respectively. Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, the Democratic favorite, languished in third place with 23 percent.
The Associated Press has yet to call the primary, and just over a thousand votes separate Dutton and Aguilar, but Aguilar's likely failure to advance to the general election is a stunning blow to national Democrats, who tabbed Aguilar to win a seat that gave President Obama over 55 percent of its presidential vote in 2008. Aguilar was one of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee's touted "Red to Blue" candidates and a centerpiece in Democrats' plans to take advantage of favorable redistricting and population trends in California to vault back toward the House majority. Democrats now likely have to cede a favorable district months before Election Day.
While Miller and Dutton were the only two Republicans in the primary, three other Democrats split votes with Aguilar, especially Justin Kim, who finished fourth with 13 percent. Vote-splitting and lagging turnout hurt Democrats throughout the state, though the effect mostly hit candidates hoping to finish second and set up Democrat-versus-Democrat general elections in ultra-liberal districts.
In the 2nd District, north of San Francisco, Republican Daniel Roberts has sneaked into second place by about 1,000 votes and with 15 percent, ahead of three Democrats who were vying to compete with Democratic Assemblyman Jared Huffman in the general election. In the strongly Democratic 51st District, in San Diego, Denise Moreno Ducheny was expected to face fellow Democrat Juan Vargas in the general election, but she is currently in third place, five points behind Republican Michael Crimmins with all precincts reporting.
(A recap of earlier California returns, including the matchup between Democratic Reps. Howard Berman and Brad Sherman in the 30th District, is here.)