Election Scuttlebutt: US Senate, AD 76, AD 78, CD52

Brian Brady Brian Brady 1 Comment


California Assemblyman and retired Marine Colonel Rocky Chavez is running for the open California US Senate seat. Chavez is running against the “best looking attorney general in America,” Kamala Harris. Chavez offers a “pragmatic platform” of strong foreign policy experience, comprehensive immigration reform, leaving Obamacare in place, supporting same sex marriage, and opposing abortion. He faces a large registration disadvantage but thinks his military experience translates to a win:

“Our national security is a major concern, with ISIS growing bolder every day,” Chávez said in a statement announcing his candidacy. “If things get worse overseas, who would Californians want representing them in the Senate? A lawyer from San Francisco or a Marine colonel who knows how lives can be protected and understands the importance of keeping America and her allies safe and secure”

Chavez’ Senate bid vacates his Assembly Seat in North San Diego County, a seat he could potentially hold for a few more terms. Encinitas Undercover started handicapping the race, suggesting that Encinitas Mayor Kristin Gaspar, Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, and Oceanside Mayor Jim Wood could be candidates. This author thinks Vista Council member Amanda Rigby would be the choice for conservatives in this race…

…if the 76th Assembly seat is really going to be open. I don’t see that happening. I think Chavez’ bid for US Senate is genuine but the retired Marine knows how to count. While I think he is a much better choice than Harris, this is California — Republicans haven’t been competitive in a statewide race since Schwarzenegger. Chavez will have to weigh his options of launching a shoe-string, statewide campaign or retain his comfortable incumbency.  If he stays the Senate course, I think the AD 76 run off could be a Wood vs Rigby battle, next November.

The 78th Assembly District Race, alternatively, is as tough as a statewide race for Republicans. At this point, Kevin Melton is the only Republican announced to face what should be a crowded Democratic field: failed City Council candidate Sarah Boot and interim Council member Ed Harris have signaled their intention to run. Melton lost to Barbara Decker in the 2014 election but snagged 12 percent of the vote with little or no name recognition.  Melton courted the grass roots volunteer Republican clubs, endorsed Decker after she advanced, and has the ability to raise money.

The 78th AD is Toni Atkins’ District and covers a large swath of the City of San Diego. If Atkins runs for Mayor of San Diego, the 78th will be a GOTV battleground: Faulconer vs. Atkins, Peters vs. TBD, and the 78th will be fought in the precincts there. As such, Atkins and Faulconer will have a lot of influence over who the final two candidates will be. Atkins has endorsed Sarah Boot and Melton was fraternity brothers with Mayor Faulconer at SDSU.  I think we’re looking at a Melton vs Boot run off.

Jacquie Atkinson, a veteran Marine officer has announced her interest in the 52nd Congressional race. Atkinson was a platoon leader in Iraq and works in the national defense industry now, as a civilian. She has been active in local Republican politics, volunteering as a Log Cabin Republican member to elect Mayor Faulconer and as a volunteer on Carl DeMaio’s failed bid last election cycle. A few months ago, she signaled that she might run for the 78th Assembly District but today, she’s a candidate to face Peters. If she has DeMaio’s support, she’ll raise a lot of money.

A friend from Los Angeles whispered to me that former Bush Administration official Denise Gitsham also has an interest in the CD 52 race. Gitsham was a coalition leader in the Bush 2000 Presidential campaign, worked in the West Wing, graduated Georgetown Law, worked for the Department of Justice, and worked as a K Street lobbyist, then settled in San Diego to start a public relations firm. She’s been a regular of the Rick Amato show (on One America News Network), has the contacts to raise a lot of money, and is very savvy. If she decides to run, this is going to be a toss up to see who faces Peters next year.

Both ladies are formidable candidates to face Peters and both are triathletes, completing 70.3 “half” Ironman competitions. Maybe the best course of action, for Republican voters, is to hand each a wetsuit, bike, and running shoes and let them figure this one out on the course.

The elections are over 18 months from now and politics is a fluid arena. Candidates drop out, voter sentiment shifts, and the 2016 Presidential race is going to have a huge impact on the vote. Don’t hold me to these predictions. This article is meant to be a conversation starter.


Comments 1

  1. Great breakdown Brian. Republicans will have a lot of great candidates to pick from, but we’re all going to have to come together to win with a presidential electorate.

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