- Associated Press - Sunday, May 8, 2016

More than a dozen of California’s 53 congressional districts have competitive races as the June primary election approaches, though most will spill over into the November general election. A handful are competitive, and June’s top-two primary system will cull the field for the November general election.

Among the most interesting congressional races:

Congressional District 3

Incumbent: Rep. John Garamendi, D-Walnut Grove.

Challengers: Republicans Dr. N. Eugene Cleek, a surgeon and farmer from Orland, and engineer Ryan Detert of Davis.

Key Factors: Garamendi survived a close race two years ago, defeating a former Republican assemblyman by less than 6 percentage points. Now the National Republican Congressional Committee is targeting him again. It included Cleek in its “Young Guns” program for competitive candidates and he has contributed heavily toward his own campaign.

Description: The district stretches from Solano County to the Sacramento Valley. It is 40 percent registered Democrats, 31 percent Republicans and 24 percent no party preference.

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Congressional District 7

Incumbent: Rep. Democrat Ami Bera, D-Elk Grove.

Challenger: Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican.

Key Factors: Republicans hope to regain this seat after Bera lost the union support that helped him narrowly defeat the GOP incumbent in 2012 and barely survive against another former Republican congressman in 2014. Jones is running on immigration and national security issues in this race, which will be decided in November.

Description: The district includes Sacramento suburbs along the I-80 and U.S. 50 corridors. Democrats hold a 3 percentage point registration edge over Republicans; a fifth of voters have no party preference.

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Congressional District 8

Incumbent: Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley.

Challengers: Former Republican Assemblyman Tim Donnelly of Twin Peaks and three Democrats: Retired Army Sgt. Roger La Plante of Big Bear Lake; Victor Valley Community College Trustee John Pinkerton; retired college professor Rita Ramirez of Twentynine Palms.

Key Factors: Tea party activist Donnelly unsuccessfully sought the GOP nomination for governor in 2014. The Republican firebrand is mounting an underfunded same-party challenge in the GOP-leaning seat.

Description: 95 percent of the district’s voters are in San Bernardino County, but the sprawling district also includes Inyo and Mono counties. Republicans make up 39 percent of registered voters, Democrats 32 percent and a fifth have no party preference.

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Congressional District 10

Incumbent: Rep. Jeff Denham, R-Modesto.

Challengers: Republican farmer Robert Hodges and two Democrats: lawyer and accountant Michael Barkley of Manteca and Michael Eggman of Modesto, a beekeeper and almond grower.

Key Factors: Democrats hope to pick up this seat with help from the district’s large and growing Latino population now that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee. Eggman is seeking a rematch after losing to Denham by 12 percentage points in 2014.

Description: Anchored around Modesto, the Central Valley district stretches along the Highway 99 corridor from Manteca to Turlock. Republicans have just a 2 percentage point edge over Democrats in voter registration, while a fifth have no party preference.

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Congressional District 16

Incumbent: Rep. Jim Costa, D-Fresno.

Challengers: Madera County Board of Supervisors chairman David Rogers of Chowchilla and Riverdale dairy farmer Johnny Tacherra, both Republicans.

Key Factors: Republicans hope to capitalize on unions’ anger after Costa supported President Barack Obama’s trade agenda despite fears over potential U.S. job losses. But Costa could benefit in the majority Latino district now that Donald Trump is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Description: About half the district’s voters live in Fresno, but it also includes parts of Merced and Madera counties. Democrats are 45 percent of registered voters to Republicans’ 29 percent, with a fifth indicating no party preference.

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Congressional District 17

Incumbent: Rep. Mike Honda, D-San Jose.

Challengers: Democrats Ro Khanna of Fremont and San Jose Councilman Pierluigi Oliverio; Republicans Ron Cohen of Fremont and Peter Kuo of Santa Clara; and Libertarian Kennita Watson of Palo Alto.

Key Factors: A boiling rematch between two Democrats. Khanna, a former U.S. Department of Commerce official in the Obama administration, narrowly lost to Honda in 2014. Now Honda is the subject of a congressional ethics investigation into whether he and his staff used official resources for campaign purposes, though he blames innocent clerical errors.

Description: The San Francisco Bay Area district includes Santa Clara County and a slice of Alameda County. Forty-four percent of registered voters are Democratic, 19 percent Republican, and a third hold no party preference.

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Congressional District 21

Incumbent: Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.

Challengers: Fowler City Councilman Daniel Parra and Bakersfield civil rights attorney Emilio Jesus Huerta, both Democrats. Huerta’s mother is United Farm Workers organizer and Cesar Chavez ally Dolores Huerta.

Key Factors: Democrats are seeking a strong challenger to pick off this Democratic-leaning district in a presidential election year that may draw its majority Latino voters, particularly now that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP nominee.

Description: The Central Valley district includes parts of Fresno, Kern, Kings and Tulare counties. By percentage, Democrats hold a 46-31 advantage over Republicans in registered voters, with one in five having no party preference.

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Congressional District 24

Open Seat: Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, age 78, is retiring from the seat she has held since 1998.

Challengers: Democrats are Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal of Santa Barbara; design consultant Benjamin Lucas of Santa Barbara; farmer William Ostrander of San Luis Obispo; and Santa Barbara Mayor Helene Schneider. Republicans are Assemblyman Katcho Achadjian of San Luis Obispo; rancher Justin Donald Fareed of Santa Barbara; and financial planner Matt Kokkonen of San Luis Obispo. Electronics engineer Steve Isakson of Atascadero and social scientist John Uebersax of Morro Bay are running as independents.

Key Factors: Democrat Capps only narrowly won two years ago. Democrat Carbajal and Republican Fareed, a former congressional aide, lead in fundraising. The National Republican Congressional Committee has named Fareed and Achadjian to its program for competitive candidates.

Description: The Central Coast district runs from north of San Luis Obispo to south of Santa Barbara. Democrats have a narrow 3 percentage point edge over Republicans in voter registration, with 23 percent no party preference.

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Congressional District 25

Incumbent: Rep. Steve Knight, R-Lancaster.

Challengers: Consumer rights attorney Bryan Caforio of Valencia and Agua Dulce councilman Lou Vince, both Democrats, and Republican federal law attorney Jeffrey Moffatt of Lancaster.

Key Factors: Democrats see Knight as vulnerable but split on the best challenger: The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee recruited Caforio but the California Democratic Party endorsed Vince, who trails in fundraising.

Description: The Antelope Valley and other portions of Los Angeles County, plus a sliver of Ventura County. Democrats and Republicans each have 37 percent of registered voters, with another 21 percent declaring no party preference.

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Congressional District 31

Incumbent: Rep. Pete Aguilar, D-San Bernardino.

Challengers: Democratic retired educator Kaisar Ahmed of Redlands and three Republicans: former U.S. Rep. Joe Baca of Rialto; U.S. Naval Reserve Lt. Commander Paul Chabot of Rancho Cucamonga; economist Sean Flynn of Upland, author of “Economics for Dummies.”

Key Factors: Democrat Aguilar is defending the open seat he won two years ago, topping Chabot by 4 percentage points. But it is newcomer Flynn who was designated for the National Republican Congressional Committee’s “Young Guns” program for competitive candidates.

Description: The San Bernardino County district runs from Redlands and San Bernardino in the east to Upland and Rancho Cucamonga in the west. Democrats have a 6 percentage point advantage over Republicans in voter registration; a fifth have no party preference.

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Congressional District 32

Incumbent: Rep. Grace Napolitano, D-El Monte.

Challengers: Democratic Assemblyman Roger Hernandez and Republican businessman Gordon Fisher, both of West Covina.

Key Factors: Hernandez is termed out of the Assembly and attempting to unseat fellow Democrat Napolitano, who has held her seat since 1998. His quest was complicated when his estranged wife obtained a restraining order against him, which he says was politically motivated. Napolitano, who is 79, returned to work this spring after suffering a stroke in February.

Description: The Los Angeles-area district includes the central and eastern parts of the San Gabriel Valley. Democrats have 46 percent of registered voters; the remainder are evenly split between Republicans and independents.

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Congressional District 36

Incumbent: Rep. Raul Ruiz, D-Palm Desert.

Challengers: State Sen. Jeff Stone of Temecula and accountant Stephan Wolkowicz of Indio, both Republicans.

Key Factors: Ruiz won his seat in 2012, defeating Republican incumbent Mary Bono. He held it against one Republican state lawmaker in 2014 and may face another this fall in the evenly split district. Its near-majority of Latino residents may be energized now that Donald Trump is the presumptive GOP presidential nominee.

Description: The Riverside County district begins at the Arizona border and stretches to Hemet, San Jacinto and Beaumont on its western edge. Democrats have a 2 percentage point edge over Republicans, while 19 percent have no party preference.

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Congressional District 44

Open Seat: Democratic Rep. Janice Hahn is giving up the seat she has held since 2011 to run for the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors.

Challengers: Seven Democrats: Attorney Nanette Diaz Barragan of San Pedro; Martha Delgadillo of South Gate; maintenance worker Morris Griffin of Inglewood; state Sen. Isadore Hall of Compton; lawyer Marcus Musante of Compton; business owner Sylvia Ortiz of Lynwood; and Armando Sotomayor of Carson. Two Republicans, carpenter Christopher Castillo of Wilmington and small businessman Ronald Siegel of Manhattan Beach, and independent Michael de Mauricio of Downey, complete the field.

Key Factors: State lawmaker Hall has the greatest name recognition, the most money and the state party endorsement in the crowded field and heavily Democratic district. But former Hermosa Beach councilwoman Barragan raised substantial cash for her campaign.

Description: The heavily Latino district spreads north from Los Angeles. Democrats have 62 percent of registered voters while Republicans, with 11 percent, are outnumbered by 22 percent of voters with no party preference.

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Congressional District 46

Open Seat: Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, is vacating the seat to run for U.S. Senate.

Challengers: Three Democrats, including former state legislators Lou Correa of Anaheim and Joe Dunn of Santa Ana, and Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen. Four Republicans: Realtor Louie Contreras of La Habra; small businessman Rodolfo Rudy Gaona of Anaheim; Orange County Sheriff’s Commander Bob Peterson of Orange; and businesswoman Lynn Schott of Santa Ana. Social worker Nancy Trinidad Marin of Santa Ana is running as an independent.

Key Factors: The three Democrats have the most money and name recognition in the Democratic-leaning district. They are battling for the top-two runoff in November to replace Sanchez, who has held the seat since 1996.

Description: 47 percent of registered voters are Democrats in this Orange County district, compared to 27 percent Republicans and 22 percent with no party preference.

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Congressional District 52

Incumbent: Rep. Scott Peters, D-San Diego.

Challengers: Five Republicans: Small businessman Terry Reagan Allvord of La Jolla; Marine veteran Jacquie Atkinson of San Diego; university professor Kenneth Canada of Coronado; attorney Denise Gitsham of San Diego; and John Horst of San Diego.

Key Factors: Peters unseated Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray in 2012 and narrowly held the seat in 2014, but has raised lots of cash for this campaign. Gitsham, who had several jobs in former President George W. Bush’s administration, leads the GOP challengers in fundraising.

Description: The district stretches north and east from downtown San Diego and Coronado. Registration is divided between Republicans, Democrats and independents.

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