How Would That Work?
California allows the two highest vote-getters to pass through to the general election, regardless of party affiliation. In a field stacked with viable candidates, fellow Republicans could splinter their party’s vote and allow two Democrats to rise to the top. Likewise, too many options for Democrats may spread liberal votes too thinly, leading to a GOP-only race in the fall.
The Cook Political Report has placed CA-49 in the “Lean Democratic” column.
But liberal activists and party operatives believe without a culling of the field, there’s a good chance no Democrat survives to face off in November.
A poll released in February by the left-leaning group Flip the 49th showed two Republicans -- Assemblyman Rocky Chavez and state Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey -- edging out the Democratic field, led by Doug Applegate and environmental Attorney Mike Levin.
Democratic voters got little clarity from the state party’s convention in February. Levin narrowly failed to garner 60 percent of the delegate vote needed to get the official Democratic endorsement.
What the Voters Said
At Monday's forum, where the crowd leaned left, Nicholas Walker of San Clemente said he's worried too many Democrats on the ballot is a losing proposition. Those now polling lower, he says, should drop out.
“I think it’s too many, we need to narrow it down," he said. "If you’re one or two percent, there’s no way possible, mathematically, that you can stay in a race. You have to concede."
D.J. Logemann of San Juan Capistrano said he's always been an independent and he still hadn't heard anything compelling.
"I think the most important issue is access to elected officials. Like town halls," Logemann said. "This environment is very partisan. Everyone is more interested in helping themselves, not their constituents.”
What the Polls Say
GOP voters seem to be coalescing somewhat more distinctly around a frontrunner. In a SurveyUSA Poll conducted in early April, Republican Chavez leads returning challenger Applegate, garnering 16 percent support to 12 percent for the Democrat. The rest of the field failed to break 10 percent. And there was a big caveat: Nearly one in five polled said they were undecided.
Chavez, who like Applegate also served in the Marine Corps, has become a target for some critics from the right. Their objection? His support for former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s centrist New Way California group. They also criticize his vote last summer to help extend Gov. Jerry Brown’s cap-and-trade system.
San Juan Capistrano City Councilman Brian Maryott lagged in the April 12 poll, coming in at 5 percent, tying San Diego County Supervisor and GOP candidate Kristin Gaspar.