Dems blow pickup opportunity in Calif.

Democrats will have no one running in the general election against Rep. Gary Miller (R-Calif.) after Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar (D), a top Democratic recruit, finished in third place in the all-party primary Tuesday night. 

The result is a blow to Democrats' hopes of retaking the House; the district was a prime pickup opportunity for them. The Hill had rated the race a "toss-up," but now it will come off the board entirely.

Aguilar trailed Miller and California state Sen. Bob Dutton (R). California's new all-party primary system dictates that the top two vote-getters in the primary move on to the November general election regardless of party. Aguilar had been saving his resources for the general election — he finishes with more than $100,000 in the bank — and was confounded by the three other Democrats on the ballot, who ate into his support and cost him a shot in the general election.

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Miller and Dutton spent heavily to make sure they made the runoff, working under the assumption that only one of them would win the district. The two Republicans will now face off to be the congressman in a district that gave 58 percent of its vote to President Obama four years ago.

Democrats did manage to overcome a crowded primary in an open Ventura County seat, however: California Assembly member Julia Brownley (D) finished in second, ahead of a Republican-turned-Independent candidate, after getting more than $200,000 in support from the Democratic-aligned House Majority PAC. Former astronaut Jose Hernandez (D) also took second place, ahead of Independent Chad Condit, and advanced to the general election against Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.).