Dem peace deal reached in crucial House district
California and national Democrats have brokered an agreement between two House candidates to cease negative campaigning ahead of the June 5 primary in a key race that had gotten increasingly nasty.
California Democratic Party Chairman Eric Bauman announced that he had helped to engineer a deal between health insurance executive Andy Thorburn and veteran and lottery winner Gil Cisneros.
Bauman said Cisneros and Thorburn agreed to stop attacking each other and instead will focus on “promoting their positive visions” and “highlighting their contrast with the corrupt, incompetent Trump Republicans.”
Both candidates are running in a crowded Democratic primary in the race to replace retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce. The race is seen as leaning Democrat given Royce’s retirement.
Democrats are growing fearful that they’ll get boxed out of the general election, however, thanks to California’s unique election laws.
The state’s “jungle primary” puts all candidates, regardless of party, in a single primary, with the top two vote-getters moving on to the general election. Democrats worry that the crowded primary fields could split up the party’s vote and lead to two Republicans moving on to the November election.
“I am pleased to announce that, after many productive and cooperative discussions and good-faith gestures by both candidates, we have reached an extraordinary agreement between candidates Gil Cisneros and Andy Thorburn that will ensure our voters can make an informed choice, free from the corrosive and divisive tactics that have hurt Democratic candidates in the past,” Bauman said in a statement that includes a photo of both candidates smiling and shaking hands.
“The last thing our Party needs, and the last thing the voters want, is a divisive and negative Primary campaign that undermines our chances in November. Thanks to this unusual agreement between these candidates, we will have the contest our Party needs and the voters deserve in the 39th District.”
Bauman, who mediated the agreement, noted that the agreement was also supported by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the House Democrats’ campaign arm. The DCCC elevated Cisneros to its “Red to Blue” program, which offers financial and organizational support to promising candidates.
The primary for Royce’s seat had taken a brutal turn in recent weeks.
The Intercept recently published an allegation from Thorburn, who accused Cisneros of leaving a voicemail threatening to “go negative.”
But Cisneros’s team pushed back, arguing that voice recognition analysis it commissioned suggested it wasn’t his voice on the recording.
The candidates had also launched dueling negative websites about their opponent, but as of Friday, both sites were taken down.
In an effort to boost Democrats’ chances in the district, the DCCC purchased $274,000 in cable and radio ads to target two Republicans running for Royce’s seat. One ad attacks former state Sen. Bob Huff for supporting taxes hikes, while the other spot targets Republican Shawn Nelson, a member of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, accusing him of hypocrisy over pensions.