Newport Beach, Calif.—Signs are strong in California that Republicans would pick up two U.S. House seats presently held by Democratic lawmakers.
Ironically, the two Democratic districts that were cited by activists at the Western Conservative Political Action Conference as most likely to fall into Republican hands were both featured in major liberal media outlets yesterday: the 47th District (Orange County) race between Democratic Rep. Loretta Sanchez and Republican Van Tran was profiled in the New York Times, while the 11th District (San Joaquin Valley) race with Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney and Republican David Harmer was a story on Page One of the Washington Post.
“Van Tran’s challenge to Sanchez is really in play right now,” Rich Wagner, Irvine businessman and past president of the Orange County Lincoln Club, told HUMAN EVENTS last night. He also said that his Lincoln Club would soon begin an independent expenditure on behalf of State Assemblyman Tran “to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars.”
An attorney who fled South Vietnam as a child when it was falling to the Communists in 1975, Tran has so far raised nearly $1 million and hit hard at seven-termer Sanchez’s down-the-line support for the Obama agenda. His message appears to be resonating, as Orange County is still considered conservative turf and Sanchez is the only Democratic House member from the county.
Last month, during a radio interview, Sanchez made remarks that “Republicans and Vietnamese” were trying to take the district from “us”—a subtle suggestion that they were oppose to her because she is of Hispanic heritage. Sanchez later apologized for her remarks, but the Vietnamese community (which comprises about 18% of the 47th District) was enraged.
“And the Vietnamese do turn out and vote,” noted Wagner.
A sign that Sanchez might be growing worried about her re-election came last night, when former President Bill Clinton came to Orange County to stump for a Democrat who has long had easy trips to reelection.
In the 15th District, with unemployment at a whopping 17.4% and the foreclosure rate growing, voters are increasingly blaming their economic uncertainties on the Obama Administration and the local congressman, two-termer McNerney.
The political beneficiary has been small businessman Harmer, a two-time unsuccessful candidate for Congress and the son of Ronald Reagan’s lieutenant governor.
A just-completed SurveyUSA poll showed Harmer leading McNerney by a margin of 48% to 42% among likely voters.
“The issue of lower taxes and spending, issues David knows well, are working on his behalf,” Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, told us. “At this point, I think his election over McNerney is a slam dunk.”