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February 4, 2014
Insider Extra: Legislative races to watch in 2014 - Part 2

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By Christopher Cadelago

In the second of five parts, veteran political analyst Tony Quinn offers his take on key legislative races, as Republicans seek to cut into Democrats' supermajority status this year. Here's a look at the most interesting Assembly races in Central California.

26th District
Republican Connie Conway of Tulare must step down because of term limits.
Running on the Republican side are insurance broker Esther Barajas and Rudy Mendoza, the district director for GOP Rep. Devin Nunes. The Democrats are Tulare City Councilman Carlton Jones, Tulare County Democratic Party Chairman Ruben Macareno and Derek Thomas, a correctional officer.

Tony's Take
Mendoza has the big advantage in this safe Republican district, with the support of Conway and most overlapping elected Republicans. This is a geographically huge district, but 88 percent of its voters are in Tulare County. Once the county was politically marginal, but no more. Romney carried this district by 16 points. It is possible one of the three Democrats will make it into the November runoff, although an all-Republican top-two contest between Mendoza and Barajas is also possible. Conway did face a Democrat in 2012, a 19-year-old rock band guitar player.

32nd District
Incumbent Democrat Rudy Salas is running for re-election.

Tony's Take
This district consists of Latino parts of Kern County and Kings County. It was a major battleground in 2012, and there is definitely a Republican base here (both the overlapping state senator and congressman are Republicans.) But Salas has been a very moderate Democrat, and a challenge this year seems unlikely.

35th District
Incumbent Republican Katcho Achadjian is running for re-election.

Tony's Take
This district, consisting of San Luis Obispo County and northern Santa Barbara County, is somewhat marginal on paper, but Achadjian fits it well. Democrats have been waiting for Republicans to nominate a weak candidate, but they have had a long wait since no Democrat has represented this district in recent memory.

See something amiss or just missing? Contact Christopher Cadelago at ccadelago@sacbee.com or (916) 326-5538.