CA-10 Pivotal California Seat This Midterm By Peter Gaughan
Beginning in June of 2016, The Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research conducted preliminary midterm campaign analysis of all 23 House districts won by Republican candidates and Hillary Clinton. California was a key consideration as home to seven of these districts, the most of any state.
Darrell Issa (CA-49) and Ed Royce (CA-39) have since stated they will not run for reelection. This leaves Jeff Denham (CA-10) as the most vulnerable of California GOP incumbents in districts Clinton won.
Denham now faces seven possible Democratic candidates in an open primary. After this election in June, the top two vote getters, no matter their party, move on to the general election.
Denham’s margin of victory shrunk from 12 points in 2014 to four points last year. Still, he overcame Democrats having a voter registration edge and Hillary Clinton winning the district.
CA-10 is a Central Valley district inland of the San Francisco Bay Area and is predominantly rural at the northern end of the California agricultural valley. This makes water the most important political issue.
Water has been a central concern for Representative Denham, a former Valley farmer. He sits on the House Committees on Agriculture and Natural Resources, respectively, and frequently issues press releases describing his commitment to bringing water to California farmers.
Democratic challengers will emphasize the high poverty rate (13 percent) district wide, with many hovering above the poverty line as well. Immigration will also be an issue for the district with a population equally white and Hispanic. California’s Latino population is voting more than ever.
The seven candidates seeking to be the Democratic challenger. The slate provides a range of campaign and political experience.
Michael Eggman placed second in the open primary the last two cycles, securing the Democratic nomination, though falling short in the general, even with Barack Obama’s endorsement in 2016.
Dotty Nygard is a former Riverbank City Council Member.
One of these candidates will almost surely face Representative Denham this November in what should be a closely contested race.
Peter J. Gaughan V is a research assistant at The Utica College Center of Public Affairs and Election Research.