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CQ Politics rates this race as "Safe," meaning the incumbent party is virtually certain to win the seat.
District Profile from Politics in America
The 17th takes in the most populated part of Santa Cruz County, with its namesake city and several sizable seaside communities, and stretches south to include San Benito and Monterey counties, where Monterey attracts tourists and exclusive Pebble Beach is home to celebrities and Silicon Valley executives.
South of Santa Cruz County, agriculture drives the economy. The Salinas Valley, where farmers and local officials have fought over water quality regulations, supplies nearly 80 percent of America's artichokes, as well as lettuce, spinach, cauliflower, cut flowers and other crops. Major wineries and vineyards also dot the landscape. The valley is home to most of the district's Hispanic population.
More than 60 percent of district residents live in Monterey County. The region has developed as a center for marine sciences, with more than a dozen major research institutions located near the Monterey Bay coastline. The county also attracts tourists to its coastline, wineries and Cannery Row, once a fishing and canning hub and now a shopping center. The 17th hosts several colleges, including the University of California, Santa Cruz, and California State University Monterey Bay.
Santa Cruz County is a Democratic stronghold, and the party has a strong voter registration edge in Monterey and San Benito counties. Jerry Brown took 64 percent of the district's 2010 gubernatorial vote.
Agriculture, tourism, higher education
Fort Hunter Liggett (Army), 3,793 military, 2,160 civilian (2009); Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center/Presidio of Monterey (Army), 5,419 military, 2,481 civilian (2007); Naval Postgraduate School, 1,557 military, 149 civilian (2010); Fleet Numerical Meteorology and Oceanography Center, 40 military, 133 civilian (2011)
Salinas, 150,441; Santa Cruz, 59,946; Watsonville city (pt.), 51,073
Monterey Canyon is the deepest submarine canyon off the North American coast of the Pacific Ocean.
|2010||general||Sam Farr (D)||118,734||66.6%|
|Jeff Taylor (R)||53,176||29.8%|
|Eric Petersen (GREEN)||3,397||1.9%|
|Mary Larkin (LIBERT)||2,742||1.5%|
|2008||general||Sam Farr (D)||168,907||73.9%|
|Jeff Taylor (R)||59,037||25.8%|
|2006||general||Sam Farr (D)||120,750||75.8%|
|Anthony De Maio (R)||35,932||22.6%|
|2004||general||Sam Farr (D)||148,958||66.7%|
|Mark Risley (R)||65,117||29.2%|
|Ray Glock-Grueneich (GREEN)||3,645||1.6%|
|Joe Williams (PF)||2,823||1.3%|
|Jim Smolen (LIBERT)||2,607||1.2%|
|2002||general||Sam Farr (D)||101,632||68.1%|
|Clint Engler (R)||40,334||27%|
|Ray Glock-Grueneich (GREEN)||4,885||3.3%|
|Jascha Lee (LIBERT)||2,418||1.6%|
|2008||Barack Obama: 72.1%||John McCain: 25.8%|
|2004||John Kerry: 66%||George W. Bush: 33%|
|2000||Al Gore: 59%||George W. Bush: 32%|