Los Angeles Times
By Javier Panzar
March 20, 2016
If Donald Trump or Ted Cruz is at the top of the ticket for the Republican Party come November, Rep. Pete Aguilar (D-Redlands) can take a bit of a breather.
A new analysis by the nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which handicaps U.S. House races, shows seats held by Aguilar, Rep. Jim Costa (D-Fresno) and Rep. Raul Ruiz (D-Palm Desert) were upgraded from "likely" to "solid" Democratic seats, thanks to their heavy Latino population.
Cook defines "likely" seats as those that are not currently competitive but that have the "potential to become engaged."
That should be welcome news for Aguilar. He edged out his Republican opponent in 2014 by just 51.7% to 48.3% despite outspending him and benefiting from a Democratic advantage of 6 percentage points among registered voters in the district.
"As long as Trump or Cruz is the GOP nominee, this 52% Latino district is not going to be voting for a Republican," writes Cook Report House editor David Wasserman.
Trump and Cruz could also affect the races for seats held by two Republicans in the Central Valley, Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock and Rep. David Valadao of Hanford, as well as freshman Rep. Steve Knight in north Los Angeles County.
Those districts still lean Republican, according to Cook's rankings, but Trump and his polarizing comments on Mexican immigrants could cause problems for the incumbents.
"The heavier the drag from the top of the ticket, the more expensive these types of seats will be to defend," Wasserman said.
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