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CD-46: Two Democrats Pull Papers as Republicans

Posted by Chris Nguyen on January 13, 2016

46th Congressional DistrictBizarrely, two recent Democrats have pulled papers to run as Republicans in the 46th Congressional District race to replace Loretta Sanchez, who is running for the United States Senate.  No other Republicans have pulled papers, though Irvine Councilwoman Lynn Schott has opened a committee.

One is Louie A. Contreras who was the Democratic nominee for the 41st District attempting to unseat Congressman Jerry Lewis in 2006, winning only 32.7% of the vote.  Contreras ran unsuccessfully for La Habra City Council in 2008, winning 3.0% to come in 8th out of 8 candidates.

The other is Rudy Gaona who was the Democrat who won just 16.5% of the vote in 2014 in a head-to-head race against Supervisor Shawn Nelson; Gaona was actually endorsed by the Democratic Party of Orange County in his race against Nelson.  Gaona has run unsuccessfully for Anaheim City Council twice, winning 5.6% of the vote to come in 8th out of 9 candidates in 2012 and 2.2% of the vote to come in 14th out of 14 candidates in 2010.

With three major Democrats (former Senator Lou Correa, former Senator Joe Dunn, and Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen) and only Schott in the race, Schott would have easily made the run-off.  However, with Contreras and Gaona jumping in the race, they could siphon off enough of the Republican vote to enable the top two Democrats (likely Correa and Dunn or Correa and Nguyen) to advance to November without a Republican.

In the 2014 primary, Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez captured 50.6% of the vote against three Republicans: Lake Forest Councilman Adam Nick squeaked into the run-off with 18.1% of the vote, Accountant John Cullum captured 14.2%, and Businessman Carlos Vazquez got 12.5% (an obscure Democrat, Ehab Atalla, got 4.6%).

If Schott, Contreras, and Gaona split the Republican vote like in 2014, then it is likely two Democrats would advance to November.  (55.2% divided by three is 18.4% if miraculously Correa, Dunn, and Nguyen split the vote evenly; if two of them are remotely competitive and the third is not, the top two would go much higher and get to the run-off more easily.)  Additionally, Democratic turnout is higher in presidential primaries (like 2016) than in gubernatorial primaries (like 2014), so Democrats should be an even higher proportion of turnout in 2016 than 2014.

The 46th Congressional District covers all of Santa Ana, the flatlands of Anaheim, western Orange, and small portions of Garden Grove.

(Pulling out my Nguyen disclaimer: I am not related to Garden Grove Mayor Bao Nguyen.  The last name Nguyen is held by 36% of Vietnamese people.)

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