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California's new setup a hurdle for Democrats' bid to retake House

The party fails to secure a November election slot in an Inland Empire district it was counting on. Redrawn lines and the 'top two' rule produce at least seven same-party races for Congress.

June 07, 2012|By Jean Merl and Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times

"It will take a few cycles to see if this system will moderate the politics of who is winning elections," said San Francisco-based Democratic political consultant Jim Ross. "But for now my answer would have to be no, I don't think we will see a group of raging moderates heading to D.C. from California."

But the changes had an immediate bearing on a number of House races Tuesday and helped reshape the fall battlegrounds.

Highly competitive races include a Ventura County district in which state Assemblywoman Julia Brownley (D-Oak Park) fended off Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks, running as an independent, to take on Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland of Moorpark in the fall, and a seat in Riverside County, where Republican county Supervisor John Tavaglione will face Democrat Mark Takano, a community college board member.

But Democrats will have to defend one of their previously safe seats — in the recently reconfigured Central Coast district now represented by Rep. Lois Capps of Santa Barbara. She will face former Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado of Santa Maria, who handily bested an independent candidate and another, more conservative Republican to win a place on the Nov. 6 ballot.

jean.merl@latimes.com

richard.simon@latimes.com

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