Friday, November 16, 2012
Ex-Attorney General Dan Lungren Loses U.S. House Seat
From Staff and Wire Service Reports
Republican Rep. Dan Lungren lost his re-election bid to Democratic challenger Ami Bera yesterday in one of California’s most hotly contested congressional contests.
Voters from the Sacramento suburbs ousted the veteran lawmaker in the race for the state’s newly redrawn 7th Congressional District. This was the second attempt for Bera, a 45-year-old physician who failed to unseat Lungren two years ago.
Bera defeated Lungren 51.1 percent to 48.9 percent.
His win adds to Democratic gains in California’s congressional races. The state’s majority party benefited from an independent redistricting process that was in full effect for the first time this year.
Before the Nov. 6 election, California’s congressional delegation had 33 Democrats, 19 Republicans and one vacancy in a Democratic district. With one congressional race yet to be called, the 52nd district in San Diego, the delegation had shifted to 37 Democrats and 15 Republicans.
Lungren, 66, is a former state attorney general who served nine terms in Congress, having first represented a Long Beach-area district. He was elected attorney general in 1990, defeating then-San Francisco District attorney Arlo Smith, then reelected in 1994 over Tom Umberg, then a legislator from Orange County.
He won the Republican nomination for governor in 1998, but lost the general election to Gray Davis, who was lieutenant governor at the time. He subsequently moved to the northern part of the state and made a congressional comeback.
He reported raising more than $2.2 million for his current campaign through the third quarter’s close, while Bera reported raising more than $2.7 million through the same period.
It was one of the California congressional races that drew intense interest nationally, after gerrymandered strongholds were transformed into free-for-alls because of the independent redistricting process. Their contest was one of the most expensive congressional races in the country, with outside groups pouring in more than $8.3 million.
The loss will cost him the chairmanship of the House Administration Committee.
Neither candidate could be reached immediately for comment last night.
Lungren’s loss comes amid a Democratic landslide in California during the general election. Democrats picked up other seats in the nation’s largest congressional delegation and grabbed supermajorities in both houses of the Legislature.
The GOP has been hit by twin forces in California — a declining number of voters registered as Republican and the independent redistricting, which meant some GOP incumbents faced vastly different constituencies than when they were first elected.
Longtime Republican Rep. Mary Bono Mack lost her seat to Democrat Raul Ruiz, a Harvard-educated physician who mobilized the district’s growing swath of Hispanic voters. In San Diego, incumbent Republican Rep. Brian Bilbray was trailing Democratic challenger Scott Peters by more than 2,600 votes.
The heavier Democratic tilt in California has national implications because it helps position the party for 2014, when it hopes to reclaim the majority in the House of Representatives.
County registrars have 28 days after the election to finalize results under California law, but any candidate or voter can ask for a recount within the following five days. It was not immediately clear whether Lungren would ask for one.
Copyright 2012, Metropolitan News Company