Some commenters chided me for expecting the NRSC come up with candidates to contest every race, and suggested there isn’t enough money or viable candidates to do so.
Well the Democrats managed to do it in this House race, against an entrenched incumbent who probably had the seat locked up, and its lucky for them and bad for Republicans they did, thanks to a selfish, stupid and/or incompetent act by a Republican congressman from California:
Friday’s retirement announcement by Republican Rep. Elton Gallegly, just hours before the filing deadline for the June 6 primary in California’s 24th District, was a surprise to just about everybody – including, apparently, the people who work for him. Staffers at his district office in Simi Valley said they were unaware of the congressman’s decision until they received his press release.Shock quickly turned to political chaos, as it was immediately unclear how Gallegly could be replaced on the Republican primary ballot, and by whom.
In his prepared statement, Gallegly cited a medical issue that “is yet to be resolved,” and said he had been working for two weeks to determine how to remove his name from the ballot. “With no incumbent or other Republican in the race, I am confident candidates will come forward,” Gallegly said.
He added that it “would not be fair to my constituents and supporters should I be forced to withdraw from the race mid-year.”
Yet that may be exactly what will have to happen. Gallegly had filed to run for re-election before making his announcement. And Nghia Nguyen Demovic – the press secretary for the office of the Secretary of State, which oversees California’s elections – said a candidate cannot legally pull his name off the ballot once he has qualified and the filing deadline has passed.
If that is correct – and barring the discovery of a legal loophole – Gallegly will have to remain on the June 6 primary ballot. That will leave state Republican officials and would-be successor candidates scrambling to state election law experts to see how Gallegly could be replaced if he were to win the primary but renounce his nomination.
According to the California secretary of state Web site, two Democrats have filed for the seat: Jill Martinez, a Presbyterian minister and affordable housing activist, and Mary Pallant, who said in a posting on the Daily Kos blog site that she is a former Republican who switched parties because she “saw the principles of American democracy systematically dismantled by the emergence of the neoconservative movement.”
The California Flashreport – published by Jon Fleischman, a former executive director of the state Republican Party – speculated that Gallegly chose to announce his retirement at the last minute to block Republican rival Tony Strickland, a former assemblyman who is running for state comptroller, from switching to the House race.
The district, which takes in most of Ventura County and a slice of Santa Barbara County north of Los Angeles, is reliably Republican under normal circumstances. It favored President Bush with 56 percent of the vote in 2004 and re-elected Gallegly by wide margins.
Idiotic, selfish and ignorant behavior like this could end up losing the House for Republicans. And you know what? If it does, they deserve it.