Rep. Gary Miller, R-Calif., was the incumbent most vulnerable to losing reelection when he announced his retirement on Wednesday. But while Democrats are likely to pick up his Southern California seat — where voters preferred President Obama to Mitt Romney by a 16-point margin in 2012 — there’s little agreement among Democrats on whom the new member of Congress should be.
Miller won reelection last cycle, despite that strong Obama performance, because of a strange confluence of decennial redistricting and California’s top-two primary system. The district was almost entirely new to Miller when he decided to run there in 2012 and avoid a member-versus-member race with GOP Rep. Ed Royce. Miller was joined in the race by former GOP state Sen. Bob Dutton and a number of Democrats, including Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, the favored candidate of D.C. Democrats. But despite the district’s Democratic lean, Miller and Dutton finished first and second, and advanced to the general election. Aguilar finished third, about 1,500 votes shy of second place and 2,500 short of Miller’s tally.
Democrats quickly identified Miller as their top 2014 target — no Republican represents a district that went stonger for Obama — and Aguilar, backed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is running again. But Aguilar isn’t alone in seeking the seat. EMILY’s List, which supports pro-choice Democratic women, is behind lawyer Eloise Gomez Reyes. The group last week eagerly touted that Gomez Reyes raised twice as much campaign cash as Aguilar in the previous fundraising quarter, and it quickly sought to cast her as the leading Democrat in the June primary.
“The path for front-runner Eloise Gomez Reyes just got clearer,” said EMILY’s List spokeswoman Marcy Stech. “The momentum around her grassroots campaign grows stronger every day as voters hear about her plan to fight for jobs, education, and a fair shot for all.”
Meanwhile, former Rep. Joe Baca, D-Calif., who, after redistricting, was defeated for reelection in a bordering district, has declared for the race. Miller’s district contains about two-fifths of Baca’s old one before the lines were redrawn. Baca raised very little money in the last fundraising quarter, but in a top-two, open-seat primary, his name ID could be a factor. In an interesting twist, Baca may have helped deliver some votes to Miller in 2012 when he endorsed the Republican in the all-GOP general election.
Republicans have a little more than three weeks to find a candidate of their own. Filing closes on March 7. But if a Republican and a Democrat advance to the November general election, the Democrat will begin the race as the favorite to move the seat into their party’s column.
National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Greg Walden issued a statement following the news of Miller’s retirement, thanking Miller and his family for their service. But unlike when fellow Republicans Jim Gerlach and Buck McKeon announced their retirements earlier this year, Walden didn’t express confidence that Republicans would hold Miller’s seat.
What We're Following See More »
"American spies collected information last summer revealing that senior Russian intelligence and political officials were discussing how to exert influence over Donald J. Trump through his advisers." The conversations centered around Paul Manafort, who was campaign chairman at the time, and Michael Flynn, former national security adviser and then a close campaign surrogate. Both men have been tied heavily with Russia and Flynn is currently at the center of the FBI investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"Former FBI Director Robert Mueller has been cleared by U.S. Department of Justice ethics experts to oversee an investigation into possible collusion between then-candidate Donald Trump's 2016 election campaign and Russia." Some had speculated that the White House would use "an ethics rule limiting government attorneys from investigating people their former law firm represented" to trip up Mueller's appointment. Jared Kushner is a client of Mueller's firm, WilmerHale. "Although Mueller has now been cleared by the Justice Department, the White House may still use his former law firm's connection to Manafort and Kushner to undermine the findings of his investigation, according to two sources close to the White House."
Senate Intelligence Committee chairman Richard Burr (R-NC) and ranking member Mark Warner (D-VA) will subpoena two businesses owned by former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Burr said, "We would like to hear from General Flynn. We'd like to see his documents. We'd like him to tell his story because he publicly said he had a story to tell."