Further to the northwest, Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly's 24th District, centered around coastal Ventura County, was redrawn to lean Democratic. This prompted Gallegly to retire, leaving the seat (numbered the 26th) open. Unlike the 41st, however, the dynamics of this race are more complicated. The leading Democrat is progressive Assemblymember Julia Brownley, who will be opposed by conservative Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland. The wild card in the race, however, is Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks. Formerly a moderate Republican who received bitter challenges for her seat from Tony's wife Audra, Parks recently left the Republican Party and is running for Congress under the banner of "no party preference" (while making the weirdest ad so far this cycle). This is exactly the situation proponents of Proposition 14 had in mind: Will the avowedly centrist and non-partisan campaign of Linda Parks propel her into the top two, or will Brownley and Strickland face off against each other in a more traditional matchup?
Among challenges to incumbents, perhaps the top race will be in the 7th District, where Dr. Ami Bera will be issuing his third straight solid challenge to Republican Dan Lungren—but this time, on more favorable turf.
Meanwhile, in the 44th Congressional District in South Los Angeles, freshman Congresswoman Janice Hahn, who first won a seat in the special election to replace Jane Harman after her retirement from the 36th District, will face off against Congresswoman Laura Richardson. There are unavoidable racial dynamics in this district: It is a majority African-American district, but Janice Hahn, who is white, used to represent a substantial part of it on the Los Angeles City Council and remains popular here. Hahn won the overwhelming endorsement of the California Democratic Party over Richardson, who has been under a constant cloud of ethics violations for some time. This one could get ugly: Richardson has shown that she is not above using identity politics to win a seat. Whether that will work against Janice Hahn remains to be seen.