"It’s very problematic for Democrats," says political strategist Katie Merrill. She's especially worried about three seats now held by Republicans: CD-39, where incumbent Ed Royce is retiring; CD-48, where Republican Dana Rohrabacher looks vulnerable; and CD-49, which Darrell Issa barely held onto in 2016.
Merrill notes that with several serious Democrats running in those seats, "polling has already shown that it’s possible for two Republicans to get through to the general election in November. So these candidates are going to have to take a hard look at why they decided to run in the first place."
Before the Democrats' convention, party chair Eric Bauman said, "We’ve been activity engaged with some candidates trying to help them look at some alternative offices they might seek." That said, Bauman added, "I will not ever tell a candidate they don’t have a right to run or it’s not their time to run because I think that’s offensive. But I continue to talk to them about the greater good here."
In order to take back the House of Representatives in November, Democrats need a net pickup of 24 seats. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is counting on at least two of those takeaways coming in California.
DCCC regional spokesman Andrew Godinich says they're "evaluating the landscape," which they acknowledge is somewhat littered with Democratic candidates.
"Working alongside grass-roots activists and the California Democratic Party, the DCCC is keeping all options on the table to ensure that voters have a Democrat on the ballot this November," Godinich said. However, it can be difficult to convince someone who's been running and raising money for a year to give up 14 weeks before the June election.
Sharpening the Democrats' focus is what happened in 2012, when Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar failed to make the top two in the June primary after four Democrats split the vote, leaving two Republicans to face off in November. Having learned their lesson, Aguilar came back to win the seat two years later.
Democratic consultant Katie Merrill says that the sheer number of candidates running, especially in Southern California, is jeopardizing the thing Democrats need to do to put a major speed bump in Donald Trump's pathway.
"If we don’t have those three seats -- even a chance at winning them in the general election in California -- we’re not going to take back the House," Merrill said. "These candidates are going to take a very hard look at why they’re running."