California congressional seats have historically been painted
with a partisan brush - only one seat flipped parties in the past
decade. That all changed when voters decided to let an independent
commission redraw the state's election map. The result is turning
once safe districts into brutal battlegrounds. The new
congressional map is attracting a lot of outside money. A Super PAC
called House Majority PAC has announced it intends to spend eight
million dollars to help Democrats win House seats in California.
Some of the money will be spent to help Fairfield Democrat John
GARAMENDI: "There is a campaign finance war under way. No
one is going to unilaterally disarm."
Garamendi currently represents the compact Tenth District,
which includes Fairfield and Antioch. Now he's fighting to
represent the new Third District, which stretches from Fairfield to
Yuba City and even includes Clear Lake. Garamendi has been a vocal
critic of the Supreme Court's Citizen United decision,
which allows corporations to give unlimited amounts of money to
those independent Super PACS. Still, Garamendi says he won't refuse
the help as he tries to retain a seat in Congress.
GARAMENDI: "We're all caught up in this war and it appears
to be total annihilation is the end product of it, and the
annihilation of a democracy. It's got to end."
While that outside spending will help Democrats like Garamendi
it's going to make Republicans like Dan Lungren sweat. The four
term lawmaker currently represents the Third District which
included half of Elk Grove and the rural areas stretching to the
Nevada border. Now the Gold River conservative is vying for the new
Seventh District and trying to convince all of the more Democratic
friendly Elk Grove to support him, instead of the large rural area
he once represented. Even with the new map Lungren says he's not
willing to rely on an outside Super PAC to carry his message.
LUNGREN: "I'd like to control my campaign and stress the
issues. I would hope that my opponent would want to do the same
thing. So when it really comes down to it, it will be between
myself and my opponent."
This cycle Lungren is rematched against Democrat Ami Bera.
Lungen was the winner in 20-10 and the G-O-P is claiming momentum
after Lungren outpolled Bera by thirteen points in the primary. Now
that the general election campaign is underway hundreds of
thousands of dollars will start flowing to Bera, and that could
tilt the race to the Elk Grove Democrat. Lungren says he'll be
monitoring that spending closely.
LUNGREN: "Well if they tell the truth and are factual I
don't have any problem with it. I'll do just fine. But I suspect
that may not be what they're going to do."
Some analysts say as many as twelve congressional seats are in
play throughout California. Democrats believe they have better
chances in the Golden State than across the nation. Dave Wasserman
analyzes U-S House races for the Cook Political Report. He says
Democrats may be getting a little ahead of themselves thinking they
can make drastic gains in California.
WASSERMAN: "We don't see that. We see a Democratic gain
perhaps of about two to four seats out of California, which would
still put them at double what Republicans have in the state. That's
largely because the new map provides Democrats with some more
targets and opportunities than Republicans."
While much can change between now and Election Day, Wasserman
says California is showing some early trends that could hold.
WASSERMAN: "The divide in California that we see right now
is not one between north and south politically, it's coastal verse
inland. And Republicans are likely to do better in the Central
Valley where they do have some opportunities to win congressional
races than on the coast where Democrats have a number of
opportunities to pick up seats."
Democrats need to add twenty five seats nationwide to regain
control of the U-S House. California is key to their strategy, so
they're dumping millions of dollars into the state. It's unclear
whether the G-O-P will match that spending or focus its resources
in traditional red states. Either way, voters in the Sacramento
region are expected to play a pivotal role in deciding which party
holds the gavels in the House.