Around The Capitol

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THE NOONER for April 4, 2012

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Good morning from LA-LA Land, en route to Modesto, via SMurF. Actually, I'm in the air as eureka! sends out today's Nooner. In one of my favorite California pasttimes, let's take a look at the Assembly districts I'll be crossing through today.

I woke up at Hotel Angeleno, off the 405 and Sunset, landing it just in AD50.

AD50 continues to be one of the most bitterly fought Assembly primaries for the Democrats. Assemblymember Betsy Butler moved up here from her now swing district, with the support of Speaker John Perez and most of her Assembly colleagues. She faces off against gay rights activist Torie Osborn and Santa Monica mayor Richard Bloom. Carrying the Republican banner is attorney Brad Torgan, a leader for Log Cabin Republicans. Backers of Osborn were very unhappy with Butler's move north, although Butler was able to arm-twist her way into the Democratic Party's endorsement.

With only 19% Republican registration and Dem performance usually between 60-70%, it is likely that two Democrats will move on to November. With each having over $400,000 cash on hand as of March 17, Butler and Osborn continue to be the favorites. Bloom is generally playing the nice guy, has decent cash on hand ($134k), and waiting to see if the strong animosity between the Butler and Osborn camps leads to one of them falling. At this point, there may not be enough time for that to happen by June 5, and the Butler-Osborn feud will likely continue on to November. This would result in a very expensive toss-up election of two candidates with very few policy differences.

From here, I'll drive over the Sepulveda Pass to catch the 101 and head to BUR. I'll pass through AD45, where Bob Blumenfield will easily win for his final term on the green carpet.

Cutting across the south valley on the 101, I'll enter AD46, another hot race among Democrats. Here, the June 5 ballot will be crowded with 5 Democrats and 1 Republican. The top Democrats, Laurette Healey, Brian Johnson, Andrew Lachman, and Adrin Nazarian, have been jousting pretty much since the lines were drawn. Lachman, whose base on the westside was left out of the district, has fallen behind the pack in cash, with only $36k on hand through March 17. Charter schools exec Brian Johnson has tapped into school reformers such as Eli and Edith Broad and Silicon Valley angel Ron Conway, and has the most cash on hand ($218k), although with several donors giving over $3,900, much of the money can't be spent on the primary. Healey has $127k on hand, while Nazarian has $191k in the bank.

With only 18.7% of the voters in this district registered as Republicans and GOP performance usually 20-30%, it is very possible that two Democrats will face off in November. However, with four well-heeled Democrats and a Filipino Latino Democrat in Adriano Lecaros, that's five candidates vying for 70-80% of the vote. Even in this solidly Dem district, three of the five would likely have to average below 10% of the vote to allow the other two to proceed to November. This may be unlikely, and the winner on June 5 may very well be popping the champagne for a walk to November in a district that will send a Democrat to Sacramento.

I'll catch my flight at the Bob Hope airport, which is in Mike Gatto's AD43. Elected during a special in June of 2010, Gatto has two terms left, which is good fortune in this district nested in SD25 (which Carol Liu will win for a final term).

After a one-hour flight, I'll land in Roger Dickinson's AD07. Dickinson is term-limited in 2016, but would likely make a run for Darrell Steinberg's Senate seat in 2014. After driving I-5 and 99 (we drop the "the" freeway article now that we're in NorCal) through AD07, I'll be in AD09. Freshman Assemblymember Richard Pan moved to run in this seat and is the clear favorite among the six-member field. 

South on 99 just south of Lodi, I'll cross into the Stockton-Tracy AD13. In a district that largely featured swings between Dem and Rep members over the last twenty years, the district will likley stay in the Democratic column through the decade as Bay Area commuters continue to build up the 580 corridor. In this district, Stockton councilwoman Susan Eggman faces off against engineer and state employee Xochitl Paderes. While Eggman had been seen early on as the favorite (and maintains a significant financial advantage - $128k to $8k) with most establishment elected endorsements, Paderes has been locking up union endorsements and is trying to hang Stockton's anticipated bankruptcy around Eggman's neck. A question for Paderes is whether her supportive unions--firef