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RATINGS CHANGE: California’s 31st District

It may look as if Democrats are seeking a creative new way to fumble away California’s 31st District, but they aren’t in as bad a shape as it might seem.

In 2012, two Republicans finished in the top two in the primary, leaving Democrats without a candidate in the general election and an opportunity to win the seat. It was particularly tough because President Barack Obama won the seat with 57 percent last year and a Democratic congressional candidate would have been favored to win the seat

Instead, GOP Rep. Gary G. Miller won and is running for re-election. Democrats are headed for a crowded and messy primary between Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar, former Rep. Joe Baca, and attorney Eloise Gomez Reyes, but as long as one of them finished in the top two, this seat remains a top Democratic takeover opportunity. And without another credible Republican in the race, that result looks likely.

Some Democratic strategists are concerned that if Baca is the nominee, he won’t be a stark enough contrast to Miller. Baca ran for re-election in a neighboring district in 2012 and supported Miller in a direct mail piece in the 31st District race.

Still, the fundamentals of this race favor a Democrat in November, so we are moving this from Pure Toss-up to Lean Democrat in the Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call ratings.

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