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THE NOONER for September 12, 2011

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DISTRICT UPDATES

  • CD03 - Added pilot Rick Tubbs (R)

Good morning from Cancun, and no, I'm not with the Speaker and his delegation, but, like him, look forward to celebrating Mexico's 201st birthday con El Grito on Thursday night.

Whew, session is over! If you are a lobbyist for Big Tobacco, congratulations! Just remember you can't ask for a bonus for killing Jerry Brown's tax plan and, remember, it's a great time for your clients to contribute to HJTA.

I'll write more about legislative winners and losers after a couple of days in my beach chair.  For now, back to politics.

ELECTIONTRACK $$$: $8 million, from Mercury Insurance chairman George Joseph for the auto insurance rates initiative.

THE NEW CALCULUS
It is no secret that we are entering one of the most interesting election cycles that many of us have witnessed.  The non-gerrymandered districts have resulted in several uncomfortable match-ups, and candidates will face an electorate that is currently angry at every party and could veer right or left on a moment's notice.  Anybody that has solid predictions for next November is either a political novice or a major drinker of the Kool-Aid.

The biggest change, however, will be from the top-two primary.  You are probably aware, but in June voters will send the top two candidates from every legislative and congressional race to the general election.  It could be two Republicans, a Democrat and a Peace and Freedom, a Republican and a Tea Party Republican, or two Democrats. Essentially, in many races, the June primary will be training camp for the November election.  In some, it could lead to strange alliances and behavior.  In many cases, selecting an opponent to help could be the smartest thing.

Let's look at the oft-discussed CD30, the showdown of Democratic congressional veterans Howard Berman and Brad Sherman.  This will likely be the most expensive congressional race in the country as two Democrats with almost identical voting records fight to keep their lapel pins.

With a Republican registration of 25.5% and a DTS reg of 20.9%, CD30 has a hardcore conservative vote of 29%.  This is the share of votes Mimi Walters received in her campaign for treasurer against Bill Lockyer, the statewide candidate with the largest margin of victory in the 2008 election. Unless the Republican candidate killed one of the these voters dogs, they'll turn out and vote for that candidate.

Currently, CD30 is a three-way race with Berman, Sherman and actor-businessman Mark Reed. Now, with full respect to Mark Reed, the voter performance in this district would require an October surprise against a Dem to win. In this world, however, anything is possible (such as a Republican winning NY-9 next Tuesday). The goal is to survive and have a chance to be on the ballot in November.

Now, for Berman and Sherman, their goal should be to keep Reed in the race and to knock the other off in June.  After setting aside Mark Reed's nearly guaranteed 29%, there is 71% up for grabs.  It's probably more like 67%, as John McCain received 33% in CD30 in 2008. Therefore, if Berman and Sherman are equally popular, we probably have a pie divided up three ways.  

If I am Berman or Sherman, I would be focused on making nice with Reed, and going for the jugular of the other -erman. While it's hard to see the candidates doing this overtly, it certainly could draw the attention of a SuperPAC looking to curry favor with a certain member of Congress. Again, we're talking about the difference between French Vanilla and Vanilla Bean, but individuals do matter in the ranking committee system of Congress. 

For Berman, it's the recording industry--a huge player in the district, in Washington, and specifically in House Judiciary (where Berman is the #2 Dem). For Sherman, the interests are less identifiable as his committees are not juice. However there is a growing push for intellectual property reform from wealthy leaders in Silicon Valley, who might be persuaded Berman is too close to Hollywood and who could write some big checks.

Another district where the new math could mix things up is CD52 in San Diego. I'll dive more deeply into this once as the race shapes up, but currently looks like 5 candidates--three Democrats and two Republicans, including incumbent Brian Bilbray. Bilbray can probably win reelection in this district won by Meg Whitman by 8 points in 2010, particularly in what is likely to be a GOP year in 2012.

However, it is feasible seeing Tea Partier John Stahl making it to the general. With an anti-incumbent fever, a sizeable share of the 35.9% registered Republlicans and a meaningful share of the 26.5% DTS voters will be looking for an "anybody else" candidate on the right.  That could easily reach 20-25%, even if Stahl didn't actively campaign. DTS voters in the true middle will be deciding between incumbent Bilbray and three Democrats, including former Assemblymember Lori Saldana.  In this case, it's in the Democrats favor to field several flavors of Dems in the primary, in order to pick off as many DTS and Dem-crossover voters from Bilbray as possible. Then, whether its Saldana, John Nascenzi or Scott Peters in the general, the party can paint Stahl as too far to the right for this moderate district.

Could this new math also be behind Hannah-Beth Jackson's decision to release a poll (40%-36%-11%) showing Republican Mike Stoker in the lead in SD19? In this Lean-to-Safe Democratic seat, it is in Jackson's interest to eliminate Jason Hodge in June, and then go for Stoker's jugular in the months in which everyone will forget there was a primary. While claiming top dog in June may be important, knocking off a fellow Dem is more important. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts about the new math, and particularly its impact in other districts around the state...scott@scottlay.com.

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On to the hottest headines on atc...

Howard Jarvis Kills Brown Tax Plan - George Skelton @ latimes.com
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Dan Walters: Los Angeles County Remap Fight Fuels Angst - sacbee.com
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Congressional Redistricting Referendum Cleared For Signature-gathering - latimesblogs.latimes.com
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Sacramento Arena Finance Plan May Hinge On Privatizing Parking Spots - sacbee.com
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Stanford Law Professor Argues Black Women Should Cross Race Barrier For Marriage Partners - contracostatimes.com
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Dan Walters: Los Angeles County remap fight fuels angst - sacbee.com
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Baker’s Dozen Ed Bills Before Brown - toped.svefoundation.org
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The Caucus: Obama to Present Jobs Plan Legislation to Congress - nytimes.com
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UC Investing Millions In New Cyber Studies Program - Nanette Asimov @ sfgate.com
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LA Duo Accused Of Promoting Tax Fraud - californiawatch.org
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