How the Top-Two Primary Played Out in Congressional Races

The U.S. Capitol. (Madeleine Holland/Flickr).
The U.S. Capitol. (Madeleine Holland/Flickr)

Low turnout, a new primary system, and statewide contests may have dominated election night headlines in California, but congressional races taking place around the state also offered plenty of intrigue. These races in particular caught our eye.

7th Congressional District (east of Sacramento):

First-term Rep. Ami Bera’s 7th District, which includes the cities of Elk Grove, Folsom, and Rancho Cordoba, is considered one of the most competitive in the country. Democrats hold a voter registration advantage of just 2 percentage points.

Bera got 47 percent of the vote in the district Tuesday. In November, he’ll face Republican Doug Ose, a former congressman who beat rival Igor Birman, former chief of staff for Rep. Tom McClintock, by 26.8 percent to 16.9 percent.

33rd Congressional District (Malibu,Santa Monica):

The retirement of 20-term incumbent Henry Waxman prompted an 18-candidate dogfight that attracted an ex-Clinton Administration aide and public radio talk show host, a renowned spiritual teacher and a former daytime sitcom actor.

As the dust clears, Republican Elan Carr and Democrat Ted Lieu appear to have emerged from that scrum of candidates, each with about a fifth of the vote. Lieu should coast to victory in November, as Democrats boast a huge registration advantage over Republicans, and the built-in edge of long-term incumbency.

31st Congressional District (Inland Empire)

Republican incumbent Gary Miller is retiring, leaving Democrats to target the San Bernardino county district, which Roll Call ranks as “Lean Democrat.” Although the 33rd District featured a more colorful cast of candidates, the race for the 31st District has proven more exciting and is too close to call Wednesday morning.

Republican Paul Chabot, an Iraq War veteran, emerged as the clear leader in the voting, with 26.8 percent of the vote. The race for second has come down to Democrat Pete Aguilar, the mayor of Redlands, and Republican Lesli Gooch, a former Miller staffer. Aguilar leads Gooch by 17.4 percent to 16.5 percent, a margin of about 400 votes. But there are reportedly more than 30,000 mail-in and damaged ballots to be counted in the race, so the outcome is still uncertain.

Further Afield

–Elsewhere, in the San Diego-based 52nd District, first-term Democrat Scott Peters and Republican Carl DeMaio will face off in November. Peters unseated incumbent Brian Bilbray by a margin of 2.4 percent in 2012. DeMaio, who is openly gay, made news this week when vandals ransacked his campaign office.

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