EMILY’s List Looks to Boost California Candidates

The group endorsed 6 women candidates in California

Protesters hold signs along Independence Avenue in Washington during the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017, one day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Protesters hold signs along Independence Avenue in Washington during the Women’s March on Washington on Jan. 21, 2017, one day after President Donald Trump’s inauguration. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted April 26, 2018 at 2:32pm

EMILY’s List is looking to bolster its candidates in California as the crowded primaries threaten Democratic chances in key pickup opportunities.

The group’s independent expenditure arm, Women Vote!, announced Thursday that it was launching a new initiative to educate voters about former Riverbank mayor Virginia Madueño, who is running in the 10th District in the Central Valley. The program is similar to one launched for Sara Jacobs last month, who is running in the 49th District in southern California.

The moves are a sign that the group, which backs pro-abortion rights female candidates, is willing to spend resources to help their preferred candidates through the June 5 primary.

“The seats in California will be key to flipping the House in November, and EMILY’s List is supporting a group of incredibly strong candidates here,” said EMILY’s List spokeswoman Maeve Coyle.

In California, the top two vote-getters in the primary advance to the November general election, regardless of party affiliation. The unique system has raised concerns among Democrats that a slew of Democratic candidates could split their party’s vote. They fear that would allow two Republicans to garner the most votes, shutting Democrats out of the November ballot.

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Madueño is one of six Democrats on the ballot challenging GOP Rep. Jeff Denham. The race includes businessman and beekeeper Michael Eggman, who has twice unsuccessfully challenged Denham, investor Josh Harder, and nurse Sue Zwahlen.

Another Republican, former Turlock councilman Ted Howze, also jumped in the race. He told The Mercury News he did not enter the race to try and ensure two Republicans advance to the general election. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilts Republican.

The Women Vote! program to support Madueño includes mailers all Democratic and unaffiliated women in the district. The mailers will be sent to more than 75,000 voters in more than 56,000 households. The mailers will be sent out twice a week for three weeks in May, and one week before the June primary. The group will also launch digital ads and Spanish language ads on Pandora radio touting Madueño’s liberal stances and reminding voters of the option to vote by mail.

The group launched a similar program for Jacobs in March. Jacobs, who worked in President Barack Obama’s administration, is the only woman in the field of four Democrats, which includes 2016 candidate Doug Appelgate, attorney Mike Levin, and businessman Paul Kerr. Eight Republicans will be on the ballot in the 49th District, which became an open seat race after GOP Rep. Darrell Issa announce his retirement. Inside Elections rates the race a Toss-Up.

Women Vote! has also gone on the air for Jacobs, producing a television ad noting the other candidates are all men.

“There aren’t a lot of people in Congress who look like her, but maybe there should be,” the narrator says in the ad. So far the group has spent nearly $754,000 backing Jacobs, according to Federal Election Commission documents.

EMILY’s List has endorsed four other women candidates in California: nonprofit executive Katie Hill in the 25th District; law professor Katie Porter in the 45th District; pediatrician Mai Khanh Tran in the 39th District; and technology executive Rachel Payne in the 48th District.

The group is at odds with the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in the 39th District, which recently added Navy veteran and lottery winner Gil Cisneros to its Red to Blue program for promising candidates.