California’s 31st U.S. House district ballot in November 2012 will list two Republicans, Gary G. Miller and Bob Dutton. At the June 5, 2012 primary, Miller placed first with 26.9% of the vote, and Dutton placed second, with 25.1% of the vote.
However, the district has more registered Democrats than registered Republicans. The registration in the district is: Democratic 40.8%, Republican 35.3%, independent 19.3%, other parties 3.6%. The district is centered on San Bernardino County and had no incumbent running this year.
Four Democrats, but only two Republicans, ran in the June 5 primary. It is virtually certain that if fewer Democrats had run, Pete Aguilar, a Democratic candidate and Mayor of Redlands, would have placed among the top two. Aguilar placed third, with 22.5% of the vote. Democrats had been expecting to win this seat in November, but now it is impossible, because no Democrat is on the November ballot.
Miller had been a sitting congressmember in a district in Orange County, but he moved into this district. See this story which explains why. Miller was the beneficiary this year of $709,000 from the National Association of Realtors PAC, and from a super-PAC also funded by the Realtors. The PAC did not contribute directly to Miller’s campaign, but used the money to independently send direct mail and broadcast ads in support of Miller. Miller sits on the House Financial Services Committee, which oversees the real estate industry. See this Whitter Daily News story for more detail. Miller also raised $736,115 in direct contributions, according to the FEC web page.
Supporters of top-two would say that the Democrats in the 31st district are fortunate, because they get to choose between two Republicans. Top-two proponents say the Democrats are free to choose the more “liberal” of the two Republicans. But neither Miller nor Dutton is “more liberal” than the other. Dutton is a sitting State Senator who was the Republican leader in the State Senate, until he resigned his leadership position earlier this year so as to concentrate on his Congressional race. Both Dutton and Miller are standard orthodox Republicans. Thanks to Nicholas Heidorn for the link, and to Rob Richie for drawing attention to this race.