- Associated Press - Saturday, May 3, 2014

A look at the most competitive California House races in this year’s midterm elections, based on demographics, fundraising reports and interviews with political analysts and Republican and Democratic strategists.


21st Congressional District (Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties):

Republican Rep. David Valadao has two Democratic challengers, Amanda Renteria and John Hernandez.

Valadao, a freshman, represents what should be a Democratic stronghold. About 46 percent of the district’s voters are registered Democrats, versus 32 percent Republican. President Barack Obama and U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein won the district by double-digit percentage points in 2012, but Valadao breezed to victory against Hernandez, who struggled to raise money and organize a campaign.

Renteria worked on Capitol Hill as an aide to Feinstein and then as chief of staff to Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich. She grew up in the Central Valley, the daughter of a Mexican immigrant farmworker, and went on to play basketball and softball at Stanford University. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is supporting her candidacy.

Valadao grew up on a dairy farm in the center of the district. He led the GOP’s efforts on legislation that would divert more water to farms in the Central Valley and signed onto a Democratic-led bill seeking an immigration overhaul. About 70 percent of the district’s voters are Hispanic.

Valadao and Renteria had similar fundraising efforts for the first quarter of 2014: Valadao raised about $322,000 while Renteria raised about $303,000. Valadao had a much larger advantage last time.

52nd Congressional District (San Diego):

Democratic Rep. Scott Peters has three Republican challengers, Carl DeMaio, Kirk Jorgensen and Fred Simon.

Peters is a freshman lawmaker serving a congressional district in which Republicans have a nearly 6,000-vote edge among registered voters. That alone makes this district an automatic target for national Republicans seeking to keep control of the House.

Peters served on the San Diego City Council for eight years and worked as an environmental lawyer before that. He was helped two years ago by President Barack Obama’s 6-percentage point victory in the district but will not have Obama on the ticket to boost turnout this time.

DeMaio is a former member of the San Diego City Council who focused his efforts on reining in pension costs. If elected, he would be the House’s first openly gay Republican.

Jorgensen is a former Marine. Simon is a surgeon who so far has loaned his campaign about $1.3 million.

San Diego can expect a deluge of television and radio ads, mailers and telephone calls in the months ahead. The 2012 race attracted millions of dollars in outside money, and the conservative advocacy group, Americans for Prosperity, already has begun airing commercials highly critical of Obama’s health care reforms in an attempt to link Peters to the law.

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