Capitol Alert

National Republicans wading into Calif. legislative targets

A Washington-based Republican group working to elect down-ballot candidates for state office has added two California legislative contenders to its latest top 14 races to watch this fall.

As part of its efforts to engage minorities and women, the Republican State Leadership Committee identified 558 women and 244 candidates with diverse backgrounds from across the nation. The Future Majority Project was launched by GOP Govs. Susana Martinez of New Mexico and Brian Sandoval of Nevada. The group has said it plans to invoke a trio of scandals involving California Democratic lawmakers to eliminate the party’s grip on the statehouse.

On Tuesday, it promoted Diamond Bar City Councilwoman Ling-Ling Chang, a candidate for Assembly, and Downey Councilman Mario Guerra, running for the state Senate, as top recruits to watch in the Nov. 4 election. Chang, a principal at a private intelligence agency, is taking on Democrat Gregg Fritchle, a social worker, in the Republican-favored 55th district held by Assemblyman Curt Hagman, R-Chino Hills.

Guerra, who emigrated from Cuba, is matched against former Democratic Assemblyman Tony Mendoza in the Democratic-heavy 32nd district. Much of the area is represented by indicted Sen. Ron Calderon, D-Montebello, who is suspended from the house and must leave because of term limits.

A spokesman for Assembly Democrats downplayed the significance of the push.

“Given the lack of local support for these candidates, it’s not surprising a partisan special interest group from 3000 miles away is trying to bail them out,” Steve Maviglio said.

Other top GOP recruits previously tapped by the group are campaigning in Orange County-based toss-up districts that could help determine supermajority control. They are Young Kim, running against freshman Assemblywoman Sharon Quirk-Silva, D-Fullerton, in the 65th district and Janet Nguyen, who is pitted against former Democratic Assemblyman Jose Solorio in the 34th district.

“These are candidates that we think have an excellent chance of winning and advancing the broader goal of ending the Democratic supermajorities in California,” said Jill Bader, a spokesman for the GOP committee.