UPDATED TO REFLECT ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTION REPORT LATE THIS AFTERNOON...
Democrats in the 37th Assembly District may be having a sense of deja vu. Back in 1998, when the district was open, the state party waited until the final days of October to pump $200,000 into the campaign of Roz McGrath. It was too late. McGrath lost by 1,300 votes to a 28-year-old Republican named Tony Strickland.
Now the state Democratic Party has decided -- again, very late in the game -- to pay attention to the district once more. Over the last two days it has put $140,000 into Ferial Masry's campaign to challenge Republican incumbent Audra Strickland. That is on top of $26,000 last week, bringing the total party support for Masry since Oct. 22 to more than $166,000.
There must be a sense that a so-called "surge election" in which Democrats gain from a big California victory by Barack Obama could dramatically swing other partisan races that wouldn't otherwise be close. Audra Strickland, after all, has defeated Masry twice before in the same district, by 14 percentage points in 2004 and 15 points in 2005.
By all rights, this election shouldn't be close. Either state Democrats sense something is in the works, or they just spent $166,000 on a hope and a hunch.