On the other hand, young Democratic challenger Eric Swalwell advanced to the general election in the Bay Area's 15th District against Rep. Pete Stark, D-Calif. Stark took 42 percent of the primary vote to Swalwell's 36 percent, setting up one of only a few competitive general elections in Stark's 20-term career. Democratic turnout was also strong enough to prevent another disaster for the party in California's 26th District, where Assemblywoman Julia Brownley looks likely to advance to the general election. Democratic-aligned outside groups spent over $1 million boosting Brownley, who entered the race late, over independent Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks. That result would have left Democrats without a general election candidate in another Obama-friendly Southern California seat. Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland got 44 percent of the primary vote to 27 percent for Brownley and 19 percent for Parks; three other Democrats took 10 percent combined.
Strickland is one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's touted "Young Gun" candidates. Overall, the favored candidates of national Republicans did not have trouble advancing to the general. Strickland's fellow Young Gun Ricky Gill advanced easily in the 9th District, where he'll take on Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney in the fall, and GOP Colusa County Supervisor Kim Vann also made it to the general election in Democratic Rep. John Garamendi's 3rd District. Former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado also advanced easily in Democratic Rep. Lois Capps's 24th District.
Two key races remain muddled a morning after the voting. In the open, heavily Republican 8th District, three Republicans and a Democrat are bunched within 540 votes of each other at the top of the returns, with GOP Assemblyman Paul Cook currently in the lead. In the 52nd District, Scott Peters is currently in second place but less than 700 votes ahead of fellow Democrat Lori Saldana. They are vying for the right to oppose GOP Rep. Brian Bilbray in November.