California Republican Congressional Seats Once Thought “Safe” Are Within Reach for Democrats3 min read

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Republican campaigns all over are starting to tank as Election Day approaches. California, long considered the land of “safe seats” because of the 2000 redistricting plan that basically secured the status quo for both parties, is no exception. The news is not good for incumbent Republicans.

Politico.com says even Dan Lungren is in danger of losing:

“GOP Reps. John B. Shadegg of Arizona, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Henry Brown Jr. of South Carolina and Dan Lungren of California are all fighting for their political lives, a reversal of fortunes that has caught even the most astute campaign observers by surprise. “[Emphasis added]

Recent polling by his challenger, Dr. Bill Durston, has the race for CA-03 in a virtual dead heat. Lungren leads 33% to 30% with a whopping 30% still undecided. Obviously, it is among these undecided voters that the election will play out. Lungren’s own polling, two done just after the Durston survey, show Lungren polling under 50%. The same polls show Durston at around 26%, leaving a high number of undecided voters as mail voting begins in the state.

This has concerned the Lungren campaign. Incumbents who don’t break 50% in polling this close to Election Day tend to not do well. In other words, they often lose. The Republican Party is concerned. According to Swing State Project:

“The GOP is publicly confessing to being worried about the challenges posed by Linda Ketner (SC-01) and Bill Durston (CA-03)? Either this is the most monumental of all head-fakes, or they’re looking up at a tsunami that even we at SSP are underestimating. Other names cited in the article as causes for concern include Lee Terry, Mark Souder (both victims of recent huge DCCC expenditures), Dana Rohrabacher, David Dreier, and Brian Bilbray, all of whom would be well behind a GOP firewall any other year.” [Emphasis added]

Politico.com points to the toll the economy is taking and the high foreclosure rate in CA-03 as one reason for GOP concerns:

“Two years ago, Lungren — who is completing his seventh term in Congress — beat physician and Vietnam War veteran Bill Durston by 21 points. But the economy has taken its toll, and Lungren’s district has one of the highest foreclosure rates in the country. In a newly released Democratic poll, Lungren leads Durston by just 3 percentage points.

“Former GOP consultant Allan Hoffenblum said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and other California Republicans, including Reps. David Dreier and Brian Bilbray, are also at risk.”

As the economy continues its downward spiral, voters realize that Republicans have had charge of economic policy for most of the last eight years. They look at where they were when Bill Clinton left office and compare it to where they are now. It isn’t a pretty picture. As Barack Obama said the other day, people aren’t asking if they are better off than they were four years ago, now its are you better off than four weeks ago.

Perhaps we have come to the end of the era of voting against your own best interests. One can only hope. More certain is that the GOP is a party in decline and candidates with an “R” behind their name have no safe haven this time around.

Randy Bayne is Chair of the Amador County Democratic Party. This article originally appeared in The Bayne of Blogs and is published with the permission of the author.

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