Well gheez. Let me summarize for those of you with short attention spans. Pro-Life Conservatives romped all over the country. In California, the selected / preferred candidates were not Conservatives. Doug Ose, Jeff Gorrell, Brian Nestande and the extreme leftist Carl DiMaio were the preferred nominees for Congress.
Granted, I warmed up to the point of personally endorsing Doug Ose, and I also liked Jeff Gorrell a lot as well. But, all four of them lost.
I spoke to a Republican Consultant with connections all over the Country who told me that the big money was staying out of California or was withdrawing from California. This conversation was in Mid-September. The money people made a conscious decision to withdraw from California.
In addition – many of these moderate candidates for various reasons were not able to unify their base. Doug Ose, Jeff Gorrell and Carl DiMaio received millions in support. They all lost – Ose by the slimmest of margins.
However, four Conservatives running in races that were not regarded as top-tier did almost as well as the leading moderates did (all out performed DiMaio) with little or no funding! These would be Chris Mitchum, Dan Logue, Tony Amador and Paul Chabot. All four were unabashed social conservatives and all performed as well as other socially liberal candidates who were fully funded.
Let’s separate out Carl DiMaio – he was a disaster from the word go. It appears from people I have spoken to that he decided to run and was not recruited. However, the attention he got was absurd considering that the opposition research file on him is hundreds of pages and appears to lay out a pattern of sexual deviance. DiMaio was so far left on so many issues that a wide-range of people got sick to their stomachs and stayed home – this before the ghastly details of his behavior came out.
Brian Nestande in CA-36 was favored over Paul Chabot in CA-31. Nestande, a tax-raising liberal Republican got hammered. The DCCC / Pelosi PAC spent $2 million attacking Chabot and still only got a marginal victory for their man. The NRCC moved their HQ out of Chabot’s district to Nestande’s. As of the writing of this blog – Chabot is within 4 points.
Jeff Gorrell was an excellent candidate and the democrats ran a successful campaign against him using the flaws of another candidate on the ballot in order to suppress voter turnout among seniors. Again, however – there was a vicious and brutal primary in the accompanying assembly district that the wounds were not healed from. It took Gorrell down as well.
Doug Ose had a very liberal record when he served in Congress. He won a spirited primary against Igor Birman (who I supported). In this case – Doug Ose did reach out to groups hostile to him in the primary. The CRA took the unusual move of Post-Primary endorsing Doug Ose as a sign of party unity. However, many tea parties refused to return Ose’s phone calls and many organized an effort to sabotage Doug Ose’s campaign. As of the writing of this blog – there are about 6500 under-votes in the CA-07 race, suggesting that the Tea Party effort succeeded in re-electing liberal democrat Ami Bera. (Ose is losing by roughly 700 votes and will likely lose by about 1500 when the count is complete)
For various reasons – the Conservatives were thrown to the wolves. It was the prevailing wisdom that CA-03 (Dan Logue) was un-reachable because of the 10 point spread – now go explain Johnny Tacherra in CA-16… pro-life, pro-prop-8 and got within a couple hundred votes of entrenched incumbent Jim Costa in a -15 dem district? Tacherra was on no one’s radar. He is an unabashed conservative – endorsed pre-primary by the CRA.
Paul Chabot in CA-31 was given up for dead when he beat lobbyist and Washington DC insider Lesli Gooch in the CA-31 Primary. The DCCC hammered Chabot with Radio, TV and by Chabot’s count 26 pieces of mail. Chabot, a hard-core conservative came within 4 points.
Chris Mitchum and Tony Amador won contested primaries in CA-24 and CA-09 respectively – both came within 5 points of their dem incumbent opponents. In the case of Mitchum, the DCCC actually spent money against him!
No one gave Logue, Mitchum, Amador, Tacherra or Chabot the time of day – and their performance in the absence of funding indicates they would have won even with token amounts of help.
The big money people wrote off California.
The reasons why are not what many will say on the surface. The powers to be in California did not take a thorough enough look at the candidates and districts. I do not have enough data to suggest that GOP leadership discriminated against Conservatives.
Wealthy Financier Charles Munger did in state races. But, he is not the GOP leadership – despite the claims of some. Munger did not play IE’s in any congressional races in 2014 in California. Mr Munger lost roughly 80% of the races he spent in – but two key wins in dem-leaning districts he contributed significant IE’s to.
Congressional Races are more of a national flavor – people vote based on the direction of the country. This is the dynamic that IMO, the CA GOP leadership missed when picking their targets. All over the nation – Pro-Life and Pro-Family Conservatives destroyed their opponents.
I’d also be remiss if I did not mention that the “fit the district” argument is something that many in CA GOP leadership overuse. I believe that the candidate themself is far more important than the social issue demagoguery that sometimes happens in a campaign.
Look at NV-04. Right-Wing Conservative Rancher Crescent Hardy Took out Stephen Horsford a first term congressman that was a former speaker of the Nevada House. The district? -14 dem.
Instead, in California – we had some seriously flawed candidates who appear to have been poorly vetted by a shallow set of qualifications. Ugh. Or, worse, we had to react and deal with whomever ran…
Meanwhile – Paul Chabot, Johnny Tacherra, Chris Mitchum, Tony Amador and to a lesser extent Dan Logue all got left in the lerch and all could have won where their more moderate, more favored counterparts lost.