House Dems boost spending in key California races

Victoria Sarno Jordan

The House Democrats’ campaign arm is ramping up its spending in key California races three weeks out from the primaries, including plans to go on the air in the race for retiring GOP Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s (DCCC) independent expenditure has purchased $410,500 on broadcast and $113,900 on cable in the San Diego media market, according to a source familiar with the media competitive.

The advertising will start on Tuesday — about a week after ballots were sent out to voters — and will target Republican Rocky Chávez, one of the front-runners in the race to succeed Issa. Four Democrats are running in the district, which was carried by Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election.


In California’s top-two primary system, all candidates — regardless of party affiliation — will compete in the same primary on June 5 and the top two vote-getters will advance to the general election. Democrats fear that their large number of candidates running in some of these primaries could split up the vote and box them out of the November election.

The spending in Issa’s district boosts the DCCC’s total spending in California to nearly $1.4 million. All of the advertising so far has attacked GOP candidates with the hopes of reducing their vote shares to make sure a Democrat makes it into one of the two spots for the general.

In the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce, the DCCC bought $234,000 on cable and $40,000 on radio in the Los Angeles media market. The DCCC has released two ads: one targeting former state Sen. Bob Huff (R) and another against Republican Shawn Nelson, who’s on the Orange County Board of Supervisors.

The DCCC notably doesn’t target Young Kim, who’s seen as the leading Republican and has been endorsed by Royce to succeed him. This strategy aims to get one of the Democrats into the top two along with Kim.

The committee hasn’t officially endorsed but it added Democrat Gil Cisneros, a Navy veteran and lottery winner, to its “Red to Blue” program. The program offers designated candidates financial and organizational support. But the primary has gotten increasingly ugly, especially between Cisneros and another leading Democrat, Andy Thorburn.

Meanwhile, in the race to unseat GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, the Democratic committee also purchased $407,000 on cable and $168,700 on radio in the Los Angeles market.

While it’s unclear who will be targeted in the ad, the DCCC posted opposition research on its website last week attacking Republican Scott Baugh, a former Orange County GOP chairman.

Various internal polling shows Rohrabacher with a narrow lead, with Baugh, a former ally of Rohrabacher’s, trailing him in second along with two Democrats.

The DCCC has also waded into the 48th District, naming businessman Harley Rouda to the “Red to Blue” program. The committee cited Rouda’s support from grass-roots groups like Indivisible Orange County 48.

But that’s at odds with the California Democratic Party, whose delegates endorsed another leading Democrat, stem cell researcher Hans Keirstead, at its convention back in February.

Democrats see these three races in Southern California — which were all carried by Clinton in 2016 — as part of their path to taking back to the House in the fall. The party needs to flip 23 seats to regain the majority.

— Reid Wilson contributed

Tags Dana Rohrabacher Darrell Issa Ed Royce Hillary Clinton
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