August 2017 Essential Politics archives

This is Essential Politics for August 2017. Find our daily look at California political and government news over here.

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Congressional races

A new ad opposing California's Rep. Jeff Denham has nothing to do with Trump

For many California Democrats hoping to defeat Republican incumbents in the House next year, the tone is shaping up to be pretty anti-President Trump, with some early ads tying GOP members to the president.

But Fight Back California, a political action committee headed by former congresswoman and Obama administration official Ellen Tauscher, is using a different tactic in its first ad against Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Turlock), one of seven GOP members the group is hoping to defeat.

The ad, titled "Jeff Denham Sold Us Out," skewers the four-term Republican for his vote in favor of a measure that would loosen restrictions on the banking industry. The measure, known as the Financial Choice Act of 2017, would repeal key provisions of the Dodd-Frank banking reforms. It was passed along party lines in the House but is awaiting action in the Senate.

Denham's Central Valley district was one of the hardest hit in the mortgage foreclosure crisis.

In a statement, Denham campaign strategist Dave Gilliard called the ad "false and misleading" and said that it "will not fool voters in the 10th district, who know Jeff Denham shares their values."

Unlike many early ads being released against GOP incumbents, the ad doesn't show or mention Trump. Katie Merrill, a political consultant who's serving as Fight Back California's strategist, said that's deliberate.

"We've done very in-depth research into [Denham's district] and what voters care about there are local issues," Merrill said. "They're very worried about the economy and jobs and water and crime. ... They're not interested in Russia."

Merrill said the video is part of a "significant" digital ad buy that includes other online ads, but did not disclose how much the group is spending. Fight Back California says it plans to spend $10 million in Republican-held districts, working out to about $1.4 million in each of the seven on which it's focusing.

Other lawmakers the group hopes to help defeat are Reps. David Valadao (R-Hanford); Steve Knight (R-Palmdale); Ed Royce (R-Fullerton); Mimi Walters (R-Irvine); Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista).

Merrill said the group plans to tailor advertising and ground campaigns based on issues voters in each district care about.

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