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Final Bay Area GOP Assembly seat flips to Dems

By Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Friday, April 18th, 2008 at 6:33 pm in California Legislature, Democratic politics, Republican politics.

The only Bay Area Assembly seat with a Republican party registration advantage has turned blue.

Sometime between Jan. 22 and April 4 — the dates of the two most recent registration reports issued by the California Secretary of State — the numbers of Democrats in Assembly District 15 overtook Republicans.

As of April 4, there were 110,577 Democrats, a lead of 2,664 voters over Republicans at 107,913.

On Jan. 22, Republicans had a slim, 272-voter margin with 106,983 members compared with 106,711 for Democrats.

Interestingly, registration in both parties rose in Assembly District 15 in the same time period while Republicans lost members statewide. (Click here to see the statewide figures.)

In October 2006, prior the re-election of Assemblyman Guy Houston, R-San Ramon, Republicans had a 2 percentage point registration advantage. (Click here to see a map of the district, which includes the San Ramon Valley and portions of far eastern Contra Costa County.)

Houston is the last remaining Republican left in a Bay Area partisan elected seat and he will term out this year (He’s running for Contra Costa County supervisor against incumbent Supervisor Mary Nejedly Piepho.)

Why has this happened?

Until I do further reporting, I can’t say with total certainty but a couple of things immediately come to mind.

Obviously, Democrats are charged up about the presidential election and the chance to take the White House.

And second, the local Democratic clubs of the area have displayed extraordinary stamina when it comes to putting volunteers out at local farmer’s markets and post offices to register voters.

Anyone have any other ideas? I’m curious why GOP registration rose in AD15 while it went down statewide.

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  • http://www.scottkamena.com Mason Harrison

    Lisa,

    Thank you for pointing this out.

    Republicans will continue to hold Assembly District 15.

    Registered decline to state voters are also on the rise and in the 15th Assembly District that block has historically voted Republican (especially in races for state offices). McClintock carried this District handily in his race for Lt. Gov against Garamendi. This is surprising especially since Garamendi lives in the District. Houston has also won with comfortable margins in all of his Assembly races.

    We still have a battle ahead of us. Clearly the Dems have been more successful this year than they have in the past at recruiting a quality candidate. That is no surprise.

    As for the increase in Republican registration, this can be attributed to the targeted congressional and assembly races in the District and the outstanding Contra Costa Republican Party organization. Although, I cannot speak for the other Assembly campaigns, Scott Kamena’s campaign has been registering voters at every opportunity. I know this is also true with Dean Andal’s campaign.

    We look forward to a spirited debate in the general election.

    -MJH

  • http://www.scottkamena.com Mason Harrison

    Lisa,

    Thank you for pointing this out.

    Republicans will continue to hold Assembly District 15.

    Registered decline to state voters are also on the rise and in the 15th Assembly District that block has historically voted Republican (especially in races for state offices). McClintock carried this District handily in his race for Lt. Gov against Garamendi. This is surprising especially since Garamendi lives in the District. Houston has also won with comfortable margins in all of his Assembly races.

    We still have a battle ahead of us. Clearly the Dems have been more successful this year than they have in the past at recruiting a quality candidate. That is no surprise.

    As for the increase in Republican registration, this can be attributed to the targeted congressional and assembly races in the District and the outstanding Contra Costa Republican Party organization. Although, I cannot speak for the other Assembly campaigns, Scott Kamena’s campaign has been registering voters at every opportunity. I know this is also true with Dean Andal’s campaign.

    We look forward to a spirited debate in the general election.

    -MJH

  • Renegade GOP

    That is an interesting post Mason. But you are fighting the last war. This is the last stand for Republicans in the Tri Valley. If they lose the 15th Assembly a long conservative era will come to an end. The numbers are moving towards the Dems in AD 15. Republicans are in decline all around the state. In Contra Costa the GOP is at 28% registration. Don’t you find it hard to look people in the eye and tell them you are a Republican with a straight face? The party on a national, state and local level is a joke. They stand for nothing!

    It is true that decline to state voters are on the rise but that does not mean in this election cycle that decline to state voters are necessarily going to vote Republican. In case you haven’t noticed everything in the political world that is Republican has a bad smell to it. Ah Kamina and Andal… these will be the failed conservative twins who will fight valiantly in a losing effort. Check Andal’s lack luster fund raising. After all he was the RNC’s poster boy to retake the district. McNerney crushed him in fundraising last quarter. Then there is Kamina the optometrists’ best friend. He will work to get them the right to perform Lasik eye surgery on the public. The last thing I want is a politician working on my eyes. Joan Buchanan a long time elected local official (that is elected to a serious job not parks board), helped create a modern school district in the San Ramon Valley. Check the disaster that is the Livermore school district. Where was Kamina’s brilliant ideas for improvement there?

    Lisa to answer your earlier question…. What we are witnessing are the wilderness years for the GOP. McCain might win but only because the public perceive him as the old maverick who differentiates himself from the conservatives. Add to that the public likes divided government. But the stain of the failed G.W. Bush presidency and Republican congress will resonate for years. Republicans will have to learn that people want something different from the political class in America. Not recycled Reaganism or Clintonism.

    The real upheaval to come will be interesting to watch.

  • http://halfwaytoconcord.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/New_Paradigm_Review.pdf Bill Gram-Reefer

    wouldn’t population growth in pleasanton, livermore, and san ramon go a long way to explaining rise in both dem and rep registration in AD-15?

  • http://halfwaytoconcord.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/New_Paradigm_Review.pdf Bill Gram-Reefer

    wouldn’t population growth in pleasanton, livermore, and san ramon go a long way to explaining rise in both dem and rep registration in AD-15?

  • Jarryd Gonzales

    I agree with Mason, at the end of the day, this seat will remain in the hands of a Republican.

    And while voter registration has recently tipped Dem in AD 15, voter registration does not win elections – turn out wins elections!

    As Mason accurately pointed out, recent history has shown that despite the slim registration margins, recent GOP candidates have performed well when it counts – on Election Day.

    This is not to say that voter registration is irrelevant, but rather to say as long as the margins are close enough turn out is what counts.

    Perhaps a more meaningful article about the AD 15 race is – how well the Dems/GOP are recruiting volunteers and building their ground game.

  • Renegade GOP

    Keep drinking the Republican Koolade Jarryd. By every measure the GOP is in big trouble. Registration, fundraising, voter intensity. The Democrats are very charged up this year. While in the past decline to state voters have voted for the GOP this year they are breaking for the Democrats.

  • Bernie Quigley

    You asked why Republican registration increased. Not just Republican registration, but Democratic registration went up as well. It has to have been voters requesting party ballots for the February Presidential primary.

  • Bernie Quigley

    of course, that’s it. Democratic registration went ahead of Republican for one reason only, there was an exciting Democratic Presidential that motivated registrations. If the Democratic race had been sewn up and the exciting contest on the Republican side, the swing would have gone the other way. Bottom line, AD-15 is a coin toss on Republican v. Democrat. Other factors equal, moderate Republican should beat the progressive Democrat.

  • Kathy Lafferty

    While walking precincts in Danville/San Ramon for my Democrat for State Senate, DeSaulnier, I encountered a significant number (10-15%) who informed me they only changed registration to vote against a Democratic presidential candidate, and would switch back to their party before the primary. This is a possible reason for District 15, also. Dems should not be too complacent – look for the switch, and keep working hard!