CA GOP preparing to keep gains in Legislature

California-Republican-PartyLegislative Republicans claimed enough seats last November to block a renewed Democratic super-majority in both houses of the Legislature. But don’t think they’re resting on their laurels or savoring the victory.

Republican lawmakers in swing seats along with party operatives and campaign consultants already are preparing for the challenging task of holding those seats in the 2016 election — when the higher turnout during a presidential year favors Democrats.

“Republicans hold the advantage among high-propensity voters, while Democrat strength is centered in lower-propensity voters,” said Wayne Johnson, one of the state’s top GOP political consultants. “2016 will be a higher turnout election, therefore it is a more favorable environment for Democrats.”

GOP ran efficient 2014 campaign

Following the election, Johnson’s firm, which does work on behalf of Republican legislative campaigns, crunched the numbers on seven competitive legislative races. That analysis found legislative Republicans ran an efficient operation in 2014 that capitalized on the state’s low voter turnout.

“By relying on propensity formulae, the Republican caucuses were far more efficient in their spending,” Johnson said.

Looking ahead to 2016, Republicans will need to be even more efficient in their campaign spending overall. That’s because in 2014 Republicans were aided by a decreased turnout among women and minority voters that traditionally vote for Democrats.

“The Democrat advantage among women and minority voters shrank significantly among those who actually voted in 2014,” pointed out Dr. Val Smith, polling and research director at The Wayne Johnson Agency.

GOP lawmakers work their districts

GOP lawmakers that represent swing seats are aware they’ll need to improve their standing with a broader electorate. That’s why they’ve prioritized working their districts by recognizing community leaders and filling their calendars with community events.

Earlier this month, Assemblyman David Hadley recognized Rosalinda Garcia, an active community volunteer and the chief programs officer for the Pediatric Therapy Network, as the 2015 Woman of the Year for the 66th Assembly District. Later this week, he will host a breakfast meet-and-greet with members of the Harbor City Harbor Gateway Chamber of Commerce in Torrance.

The first-term Republican lawmaker has yet to draw a challenger, but after winning by less than 1 percentage point in 2014, he’ll be one of the Democrats’ top 2016 targets.

OC Rematch: Sharon Quirk-Silva vs. Young Kim

In Orange County, former Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, who lost by 9 percentage points to Republican Young Kim in 2014, already has announced plans for a 2016 rematch. This past Monday, Quirk-Silva formerly launched her campaign for the 65th Assembly District at a St. Patrick’s Day celebration and fundraiser in Fullerton.

“I have thought seriously about this decision and know that my work for decades in our communities has focused on education, on supporting working families, and on building great communities,” Quirk-Silva posted on Facebook. “I realize the challenge I have ahead of me, but I am ready to work tirelessly to let the voters know that there is a choice in this district, a choice that matters.”

Orange County’s liberal activists relished Quirk-Silva’s announcement and the opportunity to send her back to Sacramento.

“Sharon Quirk-Silva had perhaps the best freshman term of any assembly member who won the 2012 race,” wrote Dan Chmielewski, a blogger at the “Her loss to Young Kim last November was more a result of terrible voter turnout than a reflection on the job she did.”

The 2014 contest was one of the most expensive races in the country, with spending topping $5 million.

Baker benefits from ongoing Democrat Senate special election battle

Steve GlazerIn the Bay Area, Assemblywoman Catharine Baker, R-Pleasanton, could benefit from a prolonged special election battle for State Senate. Last November, Baker held off Democrat Tim Sbranti by less than 3 percentage points, after a bruising three-way primary battle that included moderate Democrat Steve Glazer. Bad blood from the primary affected voters’ opinion of the Democratic nominee in the general election.

Glazer is currently leading in a special election for the 7th Senate District. As has reported, the race is headed to a run-off, in which Glazer will face off against Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord. That means more nasty campaigning by Democrats in Baker’s area.

Baker has largely risen above the fray and focused on a moderate agenda in Sacramento. She’s helped solidify her reputation as a committed public servant by declining per diem payments and a taxpayer-funded vehicle.

Thus far, no Democrat has filed a statement of intent to challenge Baker in the 16th Assembly District.

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