Democrats missed a major pickup opportunity in California's 31st District when they failed to get a candidate onto the general-election ballot in the June 5 primary, and at least one Democrat is laying the blame squarely at Rep. Joe Baca's feet.
Baca, a Democrat who lives in the district, decided last fall to instead run in the neighboring 35th District. Now his opponent, state Sen. Gloria Negrete McLeod, a fellow Democrat, is blaming Baca for the party's loss in a state that is critical to Democrats' hopes of regaining a majority in the House this November.
"Had Mr. Baca stayed [in the 31st], there wasn't any heavyweight who was going to come in there," Negrete McLeod told The Press-Enterprise of Riverside, Calif., last week. "If he had stayed there, I think our chances of holding the seat are much greater."
But Baca fought back against that narrative in a statement to The Press-Enterprise on Sunday night, noting that he had worked to prop up Democratic candidate Pete Aguilar in his failed primary bid in the 31st District. "I mentored him, gave him advice, and donated to his campaign," Baca said, according to The Press-Enterprise. "What did she do to help elect Pete Aguilar to that seat?"