Much has been written about the general trend of Democrats overperforming in primary, general and special elections since Donald Trump became President of the United States. Though the Democratic candidate hasn’t always won, generally speaking he or she has exceeded past expectations. California – a state in which registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by an almost 2:1 ratio – is the most recent state to show evidence of increased voter turnout.
According to numbers released from the Secretary of State, 7,141,987 Californians voted in the state’s primary election on June 5. This figure is a record for a midterm election year, and is only exceeded by the vote totals in the 2008 and 2016 presidential primary elections, in which California played a key role in deciding the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee. This figure is considerably larger than the 5,654,993 people who voted in the 2010 primary, and the 4,461,346 who voted in 2014.
California is expected to play a key role in Democratic hopes to win control of the House of Representatives in November. Democrats need to win 24 seats to flip the House. Seven of them are Republican-held districts in California that voted for Hillary Clinton in 2016. There were concerns that the state’s jungle primary system might leave Democrats off the ballot in these competitive districts, until the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee intervened.
Four of the most competitive districts were located in Orange County and San Diego County. Numbers from the 2018 primary election look favorable compared to historical data from the 2014 midterm elections. The number of registered Democrats in Orange County and San Diego County increased by nearly 47,000 and 78,000 voters since 2014. Compare those figures to the number of registered voters in Orange County and San Diego County during that same period increased by nearly 57,000 and 136,000 voters. In other words, Democrats appear to be responsible for expanding a significant part of the electorate in those two counties in 2018.
It’s too early to draw any definitive conclusions, but the turnout numbers from the primary election are a good sign for California Democrats heading into November.
There are five special elections to fill vacant congressional seats over the course of the next three months.
- Kansas: (21 days before the election: March 21, 2017). Election Day: April 11
- Georgia: March 20. Election Day: April 18, June 20 (if necessary)
- Montana: (30 days before the election: April 25, 2017) Election Day: May 25
- South Carolina: April 2 for primary, May 21 for general) Election Day: June 20
- California: (March 20 for primary, May 21 for runoff) Election Day: April 4, June 5 (if necessary).
Having spoken to and emailed several party officials, here is what the special elections schedule looks like over the next three months to fill the five vacant seats in the House of Representatives:
March 5-6 – Party nominating conventions for Democratic and Republican candidates for Montana AL CD.
April 4 – California 34th CD primary election
April 11 – Kansas 4th CD general election: Ron Estes (R) v. Jim Thompson (D)
April 18 – Georgia 6th CD general election
May 2 – South Carolina 5th CD primary
May 16 – South Carolina 5th CD primary runoff election (if necessary)
May 20 – Montana AL CD general election: Greg Gianforte (R) v. Rob Quist (D)
June 6 – California 34th CD general election (the top two candidates from primary, if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes +1 on April 4)
June 20 – Georgia 6th CD runoff election (only if no candidate gets 50 percent of the votes +1 on April 18)
June 20 – South Carolina 5th CD general election
Big get for Keith Ellison in the DNC chairman race. He sent out this statement from John Burton, chairman of the California Democratic Party:
“I am supporting Keith Ellison for DNC chair because he is committed full time to organizing field efforts in key states, and I agree with him that Democrats must do a better job to motivate voters across the nation, including championing working families and their issues.
“Keith knows that elections aren’t won in Washington, D.C. He understands the investment and support state parties need and will help foster a strong bench of candidates, effective field operations and open communication between the National Democratic Party and every state, especially those that need it the most.
“And over the last few months, I’ve received overwhelming feedback from activist Democrats across CA who back Keith. People like to refer to California as a blue state, but it was just over 6 years ago we fought to successfully take back the Governorship from a Republican, and I credit our successes to a re-energized state party that supports its grassroots volunteers and promotes candidates who reflect California’s values. Keith Ellison’s commitment to organizing gives me hope we’ll see similar results across the nation.”
Why is this important? 1) As state party chairman, Burton is one of the party insiders who has a say in picking the next DNC chairman at the party’s winter meeting in Atlanta at the end of the month. 2) As NBC’s Alex Seitz-Wald points out, California has the largest delegation to the DNC. (NOTE: For those of you seeing this as a Bernie-Hillary proxy war, keep in mind that Hillary Clinton won the California primary 55-43.)
UPDATE: Here’s the statement from the California Democratic Party’s Twitter account:
Following up on the earlier story of Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson filing a lawsuit against the federal government, the City of San Francisco has filed a suit of its own. (Read the PDF of the complaint here) In this case, it targets the administration’s executive order on sanctuary cities, which would result in loss of federal funding for San Francisco.
According to the press release from City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s office, “This lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the executive order and a related federal statute. It requests a finding that San Francisco complies with applicable federal law and seeks to prevent the federal government from cutting funds to San Francisco.”
The California state Senate voted to confirm Rep. Xavier Becerra as the state’s next attorney general on a party line vote of 26-9. Becerra will be sworn into office tomorrow after his resignation from Congress, some time before Governor Jerry Brown’s State of the State address.
In a statement, Becerra said, “I’m deeply grateful to the State Senate for voting, like the State Assembly, to confirm me as California’s Attorney General.
It is humbling and exciting to assume responsibility for vigorously advancing the forward-leaning values that make California unique among the many states.”
Politically, the California attorney general job is a much bigger platform for the national stage for Becerra than if he had remained in the Democratic minority in the House of Representatives. As the state’s top law enforcement officer, he will most certainly be involved in litigation with the Trump administration on issues ranging from immigration, the environment, and civil rights. If he wants to run for the Democratic nomination in 2020 or wants to be a strong contender in a future Democratic administration, being in the legal trenches fighting against the Trump administration would probably make for a very good credential, particularly if he can get legal victories in federal court or the Supreme Court.