Thanks to the rapacious desire of the members of the California Redistricting Commission to play around with Assembly District lines in Los Angeles County, the newly minted 66th Assembly District in the South Bay Area [see map] is now a prime opportunity for a Republican pickup. The largest cities in this new coastal district are Redondo Beach, Torrance and Rancho Palos Verdes. Unlike some districts which, thanks to the passage of Proposition 14, have two candidates from the same party battling it out this November, the 66th features a more traditional Rep on Dem matchup, with the Republican being businessman Craig Huey, and the Democrat being Al Marasuchi.
While the Marasuchi ran unopposed as the only Democrat on the ballot, Huey was victorious in a robust primary against Nathan Mintz. Actually, the GOP dustup ended up not being very close Huey got 38% of the vote while Mintz got 21%. It is very significant to note their combined percentage of the vote was a strong 59% to the Democrat’s 41%. This augers well for the GOP in the Fall. A fun factoid is that in Torrance, where Maratuschi is on the local school board, Huey bested him 41.1% to 39.9%. The strong showing by Republicans and the weak showing of Marasuchi in the 66th in June has dropped this race much further down the priority list for Democrats. Still, Huey will need to bring his “A” game once again in the sprint to November — the state’s public employee unions have a virtually unlimited checkbook and their desire to gain a two-thirds control on the Assembly is great.
Craig Huey is becoming a household name in this part of Los Angeles County. Last year he was unsuccessful in a bid for Congress in a special election against Janice Hahn. While he did not win that race, by all accounts Huey ran a solid, textbook campaign. If you take the areas of the Congressional District that overlap the 66th Assembly District, Huey actually won that part of it. Add to this that significant GOP turf is also in the Assembly District that does not overlap with the House seat for which he ran — such as Rancho Palos Verdes.
Craig Huey’s campaign did not stop for a rest after the successful June election — on the contrary he continues to rigorously push forward, and has been consolidating support. He already has the endorsements of many local leaders, many of whom endorsed his Republican opponent Nathan Mintz, including Torrance Mayor Frank Scotto, Ranchos Palos Verdes Councilmember Jerry Duhovic, Ranchos Palos Verdes Councilmember Susan Brooks, Lomita Councilmember Henry Sanchez, Jr., Manhattan Beach Mayor Wayne Powell, Hermosa Beach Councilman Kit Bobko, Rancho Palos Verdes Mayor Anthony Misetich, and Redondo City Councilman Matthew Kilroy.
All of Huey’s hard work will be necessary as Assembly Speaker John Perez has been working the phones, helping Marasuchi to raise over a half-million dollars, much of it from the cast of usual special interest subjects: SEIU, UFCW, the CTA, AFSCME, and dozens of other union organizations.
A big plus for Huey (and for Republicans in general) is that this election is going to be about jobs and the economy — not the strongest area for Democrats who have had all of the levers of power in Sacramento while the state’s economy has really suffered. Huey’s message of growing the economy and creating jobs in the private sector, downsizing government, and stopping the state from creating the laws and regulations that reduce private sector job growth has been and will continue to resonate well in this district, which Huey has called home since his elementary school days.
The 66th is a “must win” for Republicans — frankly, it Maratuschi should somehow win this seat in November, it would undoubtedly mean a running of the table by Democrats such that they would likely control the Assembly by over a two-thirds margin. That said, Huey’s a strong candidate and I predict he wins this seat, presuming a fully funded effort, by a health margin.