Incumbents Facing Challenges

Assemblywoman Betsy Butler at an event promoting aerospace jobs in California (April 2012).

Assemblywoman Betsy Butler

At least four incumbents are facing challenging primary opponents. Although usually a rare occurrence (there have only been two incumbents defeated in primaries in the last decade), the combination of new district lines and the top-two primary have made this a potentially record-breaking year. In fact, the last time California saw more than two incumbents defeated in a primary was 34 years ago when Senator Alfred Song and Assemblyman Mike Cullen were defeated in 1978.

The four in the greatest danger this year are;

Betsy Butler – Probably the most serious primary challenge for an incumbent legislator this year is in AD-50, where Torie Osborn has mounted a full-scale offensive on first-term Assemblywoman Butler. Osborn has more than four hundred thousand dollars on hand and has collected endorsements from L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa, the Nurses, and a number of local officials. Butler, who has almost half a million in the bank, has a fight on her hands. This is going to be the race to watch in June.

Dan Logue – Logue, a two-term Assemblyman, is facing a challenge from Tehama County Supervisor Bob Williams. With the advantages that come from being an incumbent and having the larger warchest (Logue had $193,908 in his account, compared to $57,917 for Williams), Logue has made himself difficult to dislodge. Williams, endorsed by the two other local Republican legislators (Senator La Malfa and Assemblyman Nielsen), has a major challenge cut out for him in the next month.

Beth Gaines – Gaines faces a challenge in AD-06 from Andy Pugno, a fellow Republican who ran in 2010 for AD-05 (and lost to Richard Pan). Shortly before the end of the filing period, Pugno decided to jump into the race for the sixth, putting a hurdle in what had appeared to be an easy reelection for the first-term Assemblywoman. Gaines will benefit from a strong name ID, while Pugno will have an advantage (in the Primary) from his strong conservative background. This too will be one to watch.

Alan Mansoor – Freshman Assemblyman Mansoor faces a challenge from Newport Beach City Councilwoman Leslie Daigle. Although a ‘legislator vs. councilmember’ match-up would usually be an easy call, Daigle has built up an impressive $107,955 in her account (with Mansoor holding a narrow lead at $115,371). Her online endorsement list demonstrates strong support in Newport Beach, but translating that to a victory in June will likely be a tough challenge.