Democrats are looking to make gains in the Inland Empire in the 2012 elections both statewide and nationally.
Although redistricting plans the Citizens Redistricting Commission released will not be ratified until Aug. 15, Democrats in San Bernardino County already are making plans to run competitive races in the area. San Bernardino County currently has more Republican representation than Democratic representation in California’s General Assembly, state Senate and in the United States representatives; however, the proposed maps included three congressional districts, one state Senate district and three Assembly districts in Riverside and San Bernardino counties that could become “swing” districts and bolster the Democrats’ chances.
The prospect of getting more seats has caused the California Democratic Party to hire organizers to get thousands of people to register to vote in San Bernardino County. They are especially turning their focus to Latino citizens.
“The strength of this project is that it benefits Democrats’ chances in the region, regardless of how the new lines are drawn,” state party spokesman Tenoch Flores said.
Republicans, though, say their party still has an advantage logistically despite acknowledging Democrats also have an advantage with registered voters.
“You look at the numbers right now and it looks like Democrats have slight advantage,” Ken Minesinger, chairman of the Riverside County Republican Party, said. “The advantage we have is that we have a farm team that is pretty strong. We have an active volunteer and donor base.”
Still, Democrats have an uphill battle to climb to win those seats. Even though Democrats would appear to have an advantage, the Inland counties do not have many Democrats who have good name recognition.
“You can’t beat somebody with nobody,” Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge said. “It’s hard to identify Democrats here for elective office.”
According to The Press-Enterprise, Loveridge is the area’s best-known Democrat but also has said he would not run for any of the new districts.
Some Democrats who have the best chances of winning as of now already have announced they would run in 2012. State Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod said she was going to run for one of the new congressional districts, for example.
Riverside community college trustee Mark Takano also said he would run in one of the new congressional districts, according to The Press-Enterprise. Takano narrowly lost to Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert in 1992 and 1994. Former college trustee Jose Medina said he would run for an Assembly district – he lost races for the Assembly in 2000 and 2010 – and former Assemblyman Steve Clute is considering running for a proposed state Senate seat. Clute left the Assembly in 1992 then lost races for Congress in 1994 and for the Assembly in 1996 and 2006.
While these three men have lost in the past, Medina said he thought better outcomes would happen in the future.
“I think Democrats should be very encouraged with these numbers,” he said.
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