BOS 1st District AD-61 SD-31 CD-41


Published: 23 March 2012 06:35 PM

Voters in western Riverside County are about to find out what it’s like to be at the center of a campaign convergence.

Several overlapping – and highly contested – local, legislative and congressional races this year will focus unprecedented attention and spending on the area as campaigning escalates before the June and November elections. Voters will be buried in TV ads, mailers, yard signs and visits to their front doors.

Some 57,000 voters in Riverside east of Highway 91 are in for an especially intense lesson in democracy: a five-layer political pileup of big-bucks races.

“If people don’t like politics or political mail, they live in the wrong spot,” Republican political consultant Matt Rexroad said Monday. “And this isn’t the only year. The demographics there mean it’s going to continue all decade.”

Some 20 years have passed since the region had a real legislative or congressional race, in part because the 2001 gerrymander of political lines maximized partisan advantages throughout the area.

Last year, however, the independent Citizens Redistricting Commission redrew the state’s political map and produced several competitive seats in the fast-growing Inland region.

The Riverside area is part of the new 41st Congressional District, one of several battleground districts around the country that will help determine if Democrats retake the House.

It also includes the 31st Senate District, one of a handful of districts that Democrats need to win to reach a two-thirds Senate majority that would allow them to bypass Republicans on every issue. And the region also takes in the 61st Assembly District, another district targeted by both parties.

Beyond those races, the upcoming retirement of Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge and the re-election campaign of Riverside County Supervisor Bob Buster means two more hard-fought contests. November runoffs will follow in both races if no candidate gets a majority of the vote in June.

And that doesn’t count other local offices on the ballot, nor statewide ballot measures, U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s re-election campaign, or the presidential race.

“It’s going to test the patience of a lot of voters out there,” said Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries, R-Lake Elsinore, one of the candidates challenging Buster.

“November is going to be the Super Bowl of all elections,” added Riverside Mayor Ron Loveridge said.

Loveridge said he has seen only a small number of yard signs so far this year – but the struggle between campaigns seeking to have their signs adorning the most private lawns is a meaningful one.

“When you see a yard sign, this is an important statement,” he said. “It’s not hung up on a telephone pole … It’s a statement from someone in your neighborhood – a friend of yours – saying I support whoever the candidate is.”

As for the glossy mailers, “they call it the six-second test – how long it takes to get from the mail box to the trash can,” he said.

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