“There is no middle turnout,” GOP consultant Rob Stutzman said, noting that the three highest-profile independent candidates all failed to advance.
Linda Parks lost in the 26th district, Chad Condit lost in the 10th district, and Nathan Fletcher lost in the San Diego mayoral primary.
If nothing else, the new primary system, mixed with a string of retirements, led to some races where dozens of candidates were vying for a single seat. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s consultant Bill Carrick told the Democrat on Wednesday that she beat more candidates on primary day — 23 in all — than in her entire career combined.
The national party committees are learning as well. Aguilar’s third-place finish in the 31st cost the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee one of its most highly targeted seats in a state vital to its efforts to win back the House.
“There will be a lot of analysis and reflection on the results to figure out what worked and what needs to be improved,” DCCC spokeswoman Jennifer Crider said. “The good news for us is we have really good opportunities to pick up seats in California.”
Unlike the 31st district, Crider said the open 26th district in Ventura County is a “case study of what works.” The DCCC’s direct-mail program targeted Parks, the Independent, while the House Majority PAC spent most of its $700,000 in independent expenditures on introducing the district’s Democrats to Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D), who also had the support of interest groups such as EMILY’s List.
Brownley will face state Sen. Tony Strickland (R) in the fall in one of the most competitive races in the state. Democrats weren’t so lucky in the Central Valley’s 21st district, where the DCCC’s preferred candidate, Blong Xiong, finished third behind state Assemblyman David Valadao (R) and John Hernandez (D), CEO of the Central California Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. Valadao is now the favorite to win.
“In a world where we all think we understand the way things work, you redistrict California and you make it a jungle primary, there are going to be things that no one knows or understands about it yet,” said Brock McCleary, deputy political director of the National Republican Congressional Committee.
“We knew there would be surprises — we just didn’t know which party would benefit from the surprises,” he added. “We love having a jump start on this.”