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Thursday, October 16, 2008

Republicans Wave the White Flag of Surrender in the 5th Senate District

This was supposed to be one of the few contested Senate Races in the State of California. It pitted two sitting Assemblymembers--Lois Wolk from Davis versus Greg Aghazarian the Republican from Stockton.

Four years ago, this race went down to the wire. It was a hotly contested and bitter affair. Incumbent Mike Machado ended up prevailing and holding onto his seat by a somewhat deceptively wide margin.

However, things have changed in four years. The landscape is vastly different as is the district. Democrats now hold a 15-point advantage in this seat. And unlike 2004 which ended up being a narrowly Republican year, this year may be unlike any we've seen since 1974 or 1964. By the end of this year, even 2006 which saw the Democrats retake both houses of Congress may look tame by comparison.

It was under those terms that Greg Aghazarian ran trying to be the independent or maverick Republican. The only problem is that Greg Aghazarian is neither of those and people are tired of listening to Republicans tell them how different they are as they vote for more of the same.

According to internal polls, with less than a week to go, Lois Wolk is up by around 20 points. Given the relatively low profile of this race, the partisan breakdown of this district, and the overall political landscape, this one is over.

The California Majority Report yesterday reported that the Republicans have pulled their money out of this district and pulled the plug on future ads for Assemblyman Greg Aghazarian.

Democrats are now focusing on shoring up other districts and have put huge amounts of money into two key races. One is the 19th Senate District where former Assemblymember Hannah-Beth Jackson is locked in a baton-death march against conservative Tony Strickland who is trying to convince voters in Santa Barbara that he is green by featuring ads with PG&E killer Erin Brockowich.

Interestingly enough the California Majority Report also mentioned that Democrats are pumping money into the 30th Assembly District where Shafter Mayor Fran Florez faces Republican Danny Gilmore. That is a race of interest because not only is it Democratic pariah Nicole Parra's seat, not only is Parra supporting the Republican, but the Democrat is the son of Senator Dean Florez, a highly ranking member of the Senate and a candidate for Lt. Governor in 2010.

Politicker however reports that spokepeople for both the Aghazarian campaign and the Wolk campaign are still doing battle. Tom Haggins of the Wolk campaign suggests he expects the Aghazarian campaign which still have significant money and resources in their own right will go negative in the last two weeks. Meanwhile the spokesperson for the Aghazarian campaign said they have more money and their ads will continue to run.

What do you expect from the campaigns--they can't take anything for granted. Yesterday, the Davis Enterprise reported that Assembly candidate Mariko Yamada, who is running for the safe 8th AD is saying the same thing.
"I'm taking the general election as seriously as I did the primary... I don't want to take anything for granted."
Rhetoric aside, the 8th AD is a safe Democratic seat and the 5th SD is not far behind it. The battlegrounds have shifted. Look no further than on the national scene. Democrats are doing battle with Republicans in red states for the Presidency and Senate seats.

In California, the hottest contested races are places like the 4th Congressional District, one of the most heavily Republican districts in the state which just may go Democrat and some polls even show that Bill Durston is in the game against Dan Lungren for the 3rd Congressional District.

The only question at this point is how good a year will it be for the Democrats.

---Doug Paul Davis reporting