The most surprising news out of the 31st Congressional District of California is that Redlands Mayor Pete Aguilar did not make the General Election, leaving Gary Miller, a Republican from Diamond Bar in Los Angeles County, and Bob Dutton, a Republican from Rancho Cucamonga.
First, I think Pete Aguilar did an excellent job on his first run for national office. His staff was enthusiastic, and from my interactions with them, knew what they were doing. I don’t think any actions or inaction by Mayor Aguilar or his staff and volunteers are to blame.
1. Democrats snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. Too many Democrats were running in a plurality Democratic district. Justin Kim appeared, anecdotally, to have strong grass-roots support, and I am sure his showing surprised some observers. The Democrats were hampered by having too many candidates, and a lack of party organization and discipline, nationally, at the state level and locally. Justin Kim effectively split the vote with Pete Aguilar. Additonally, the votes received by any other Democrat could have put Pete Aguilar over the top.
2. Strong(er) Republican turn-out, with less turn out overall. Senator Dutton had excellent name recognition, having represented Redlands before.
3. Even with a new district, the traditional electoral dominance of the West End over the East Valley.
4. Money. While Mayor Aguilar raised an impressive amount of money, it is no surprise that with the amount of money either stockpiled by Gary Miller, raised fresh by Gary Miller, and spent on behalf of Gary Miller by the realtors, that Gary Miller received the most votes.