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Congressman Jared Huffman. (WC)

2020 March Primary Preview: 2nd Congressional District

California Globe takes an inside look into the 2nd Congressional District primary race

By Evan Symon, February 28, 2020 2:34 am

The 2nd Congressional District:

Riding the coastline from the Oregon border all the way down to just outside San Francisco, the 2nd District is the oddball northern California district in that it is solidly blue. Del Norte, Humboldt, Marin, Mendocino, and Trinity counties, plus a part of Sonoma County, comprise the 2nd, making it a variable mix of wine country, coastal beaches, and woodlands.

The 2nd district used to be a Republican stronghold until 2013 redistricting shifted the district over from north central California to northwest California. Along with the coast came a legion of Democratic voters. Wheres John McCain and Meg Whitman had 55% in the 2008 presidential race and the 2010 Gubernatorial race respectively, by 2014 and 2016 Brown won with 73% here while Clinton managed 69%. But with redistricting threatening to go back east into more Republican areas, the Democrats might try and put a line in the sand against any kind of Republican growth.

History of the 2nd:

Having been a Congressional district since the time of Abraham Lincoln, the 2nd has bounced around all over Northern California. Recently it has settled in the far north of the state. Former Republican Congressman Wally Herger had held on in the district from 1987 until the 2012 election when current Congressman Jared Huffman (D-CA) was elected in from the former 6th district due to redistricting.

Every election since has been a blowout, with Huffman getting 70% or more of the vote in each election. Republicans always manage to get the second spot, but so far numbers haven’t been very high. For the last 3 elections Dale Mensing has been the GOP candidate and has lost by slightly more each time out. He’s running again in 2020, but the results will most likely be the same.

Jared Huffman:

Incumbent Congressman Jared Huffman should most likely cruise to victory in 2020. He’s a former USA Volleyball team member before becoming a lawyer. For 12 years he was elected to the Marin Municipal Water District as a Director before running for Congress in 2006. In the primary he managed to come in as an underdog victor before beating Republican Michael Hartnett in the General election.

Ever since then he has been known as a liberal Congressman who has often championed environmental laws. As a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure, Natural Resources, and Climate Change Committees, he has been especially known for recent actions such as expanding federally protected lands in California and opposing the expansion of coal mining. All in all he has been fairly on top of the basic Democratic platform, supporting everything from greater gun control to raising the minimum wage.

Huffman has been largely scandal-free with the most furor being direct at his religious belief as a “non-religious humanist.” As such he has the full backing of the Democratic party and, should the election somehow get heated, he can rely on a mountain of endorsements and his squeaky clean record.

Dale Mensing:

Congressional candidate Dale Mensing. (Youtube)

Four others are running in the 2nd district race. Fellow Democrat Rachel Moniz, Green Party member Melissa Bradley, and Charles Cappock are on the ballot but are not tracing that high. The closest to Huffman is Dale Mensing once again. A former Navy Hospital Corps technician, Mensing has been a Postal carries and a supermarket employee in Laytonville for several decades. Besides running for Congress each year, Mensing has had no elected experience.

Mensing is widely seen as being on the farther right of issues. He has received support from pro-life groups in the past and has had nearly perfect ratings from groups such as the NRA. However strong views on immigration and wanting to abolish the electoral college, among other issues, have shied many undecided voters away in previous elections.

Mensing has managed to get a few supporters in past elections and has gotten the endorsement of many righter-leaning groups before as well. But even if he gets more support in 2020 he still has to contend with money issues. In every previous election he hasn’t pulled together more than $10,000 in donations. To go up against Huffman he would need way more than that, and right now it looks like he won’t be getting that much again.

He’ll get second in the primary because of a weak field, a small but solid contingent of Republicans in the district, and Huffman nabbing any Democratic support, but the General will most likely be a landslide yet again.

What does this mean?

Jared Huffman has this one in the bag. He’s proven to be popular here and has even gotten the votes of more centrist Republicans. His fundraising skills, record, and experience is outmatched.

This race matters because California is due to lose a few Congressional seats due to reapportionment in the 2022 election. Sparser districts will see the biggest changes, and that includes the 2nd Congressional district.  The more east it stretches, the more Republican, North County voters there will be. San Francisco area districts may snap up some of the more Southern parts, and if it goes as far as Redding east-bound then there can be a big change.

Republicans can’t do much. But if Democrats lose even a little ground here in 2020, then it may switch things around, especially if a far more moderate Republican enters to give the Democrats a run for their money.

This is a decided area in 2020. In 2022 North state politics may enter the fray, and things can change very quickly for the now Democrat-controlled district.

Evan Symon
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One thought on “2020 March Primary Preview: 2nd Congressional District

  1. Contrary to the above statement, I have always strongly favored maintaining the electoral college. The electoral college is important to the maintaining of State’s rights and significance.

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