President Obama In California After Seminal Primary Shakeup
By Tony Castro, Voxxi
President Obama swept intoCalifornia Wednesday to further enrich his re-election war chest amid hopes that the shakeup from this week’s stateprimary will help Democrats win back control the House of Representatives.
But analysts say recapturing control ofCongress remains up in the air despite a projected record turnout among Latino voters on whom Democrats are banking for a decisive edge in remaking the state’s 55-member delegation, which accounts for about 12 percent of the House.
Democratic party leaders are hoping they can gain five more seats — a fifth of what they need nationally to recapture the House majority.
Latino voters now make up about of a fourth of California’s electorate, but their impact in bolstering a congressional overhaul is limited because they are a majority in only one of the 20 House districts controlled by Republicans.
Even there, in the newly redrawn House District 21 in the Central Valley where they make up 71 percent of the population, Republican David Valadao — a freshman state legislator and son of Portuguese dairy farming immigrants — won over 53 percent of the vote in Tuesday’s primary and is the favorite in November.
Otherwise, the primary didn’t so much settle races as narrow them down in a way that was different than in the past.
Under the state’s new open primary rules, the two top vote-getters in each district advanced to the Nov. 6 general election regardless of party, so two Democrats or two Republicans could be competing for the same seat.
Two members of the same party will square off in at least 20 legislative or congressional elections this November.
Allan Hoffenblum, publisher of the California Target Book of political analysis, predicted this development may weaken the influence of labor unions in the Democratic Party and anti-tax tea party activists among Republicans.
“The candidates selected will be representative of the district as a whole,” Hoffenblum said, “and not just holding to the far right or far left of their base party.”
Among the issues Californians did decide were two statewide ballot initiatives.
Voters handily passed Proposition 28, which will reduce legislators’ maximum terms to 12 years from 14 but allow them to serve the entire stretch in either the Assembly or the Senate. Supporters have argued that the measure will reshape the state legislature.
The other ballot measure, Proposition 29 — which would add another $1 tax to a pack of cigarettes to go for cancer research — was narrowly ahead. Tobacco companies aggressively fought the initiative with a $47 million advertising campaign.
As far as Latino candidates, there were no surprises and some new names.
Political rising star Tony Cardenas, a former California Assemblyman and three-term Los Angeles City Councilman, captured almost two thirds of the vote in the revamped 29th Congressional District created specially for a Latino Democrat in the decennial redistricting process.
Cardenas, 49, son of an immigrant California farm worker, is expected to become the state’s newest Latino congressman and the first from the San Fernando Valley area of Los Angeles.
Politicians and analysts were barely making sense of Tuesday’s primary as Air Force One touched down around noon in San Francisco — his third visit to the state in a month. His five fundraisers over the next two days also brings to 29 the number of California fundraising events since he began his re-election campaign.
California Democratic Party Chairman John Burton said that the campaign hopes Obama’s visits translate to a higher turnout in November and allow Democrats in the state to pick up the congressional seats they need to regain control of the House.
If Republicans retain control of the House, Burton said, it is likely that “very little will get accomplished” if Obama is re-elected to a second term.
Obama’s visit is expected to net his campaign more than $5.5 million, roughly half of which is expected to come from the gala and a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender gala in Beverly Hills Wednesday night.
This article first appeared in Voxxi.
Los Angeles-based writer Tony Castro is the author of the critically-acclaimed “Chicano Power: The Emergence of Mexican America” (E. P. Dutton, 1974) and the best-selling “Mickey Mantle: America’s Prodigal Son” (Brassey’s, 2002). His rite of passage memoir, “The Prince of South Waco: Images and Illusions of a Youth,” will be published in 2013.
[Photo by ProgressOhio]