Political Notebook

Brown outperforms fellow Democrats in four Democrat-leaning Valley districts

Around the central San Joaquin Valley, Gov. Jerry Brown did pretty good in last month’s election in competitive districts where Democrats have a significant lead over Republicans in voter registration.

In fact, compared to the Democrats running in these congressional and state Senate districts, he did awesome. This should concern Democrats.

Take the 14th state Senate District, where incumbent Hanford Republican Andy Vidak beat Fresno Democrat Luis Chavez. Brown won more than 55% of the vote districtwide, Vidak won 54% and Chavez 46%.

So, Brown outpolled his fellow Democrat Chavez by nine percentage points. Voters obviously split their ticket, voting for Democrat Brown and Republican Vidak. This likely goes for both Republicans and Democrats.

“Jerry had no coattails,” said Tony Quinn, a longtime California political analyst and former Republican legislative aide, referring to the political term for a major candidate getting votes for candidates in his party in lower-level races.

Quinn and others say this could be more that voters either didn’t know or didn’t like Brown’s opponent, Republican Neel Kashkari, than they liked Brown. On the other hand, Brown has been around a long time and has very high name identification, while Kashkari had no money to push his name or his ideas, and some political analysts say in the Valley it looks like he mainly got the base Republican vote and not much more.

Besides the 14th state Senate District, Brown won 55% of the vote in Ceres Republican Anthony Cannella’s state Senate district, 52% in Hanford Republican David Valadao’s 21st Congressional District, and 54% in Fresno Democrat Jim Costa’s 16th Congressional District, based on unofficial tabulations put together by Allan Hoffenblum, a longtime Republican strategist and author of the California Target Book, which tracks the state’s elections.

But if a guy like Brown, who ran fairly strongly in these districts, couldn’t help his fellow Democrats, what does it say about future elections if Democrats are hoping to win these districts — which voter registration says they should.

In losing efforts, Democrat Amanda Renteria was at 41% against Valadao and Democrat Shawn Bagley was below 40% against Cannella, and Jim Costa only narrowly beat Republican Johnny Tacherra.

Quinn says this should be a concern especially for Costa.

That Brown outperformed Costa by three percentage points, and that Tacherra — with almost no money — was able to almost beat Costa, shows there was a strong anti-Costa vote and also shows he could be vulnerable, both Hoffenblum and Quinn said.