Democratic congressman Scott Peters, 56, looking like the likely winner in California’s 52nd congressional district over GOP candidate Carl DeMaio, claims that he won the close race partly because he put daylight between himself and Barack Obama. Peters noted that he had been more supportive of the military than Obama and added that he had been publicly opposed to some parts of Obamacare.
Peters, who won his second term after first being elected in 2012, told the San Diego Union-Tribune, “I’ve established a pretty independent profile. I’ve praised the president for how he’s handled climate change, but I’ve been critical of him for not being more cooperative with Congress on the military. I’ve also voted with Republicans on things like letting people keep their health plan if they like it.”
Vince Vasquez, senior policy analyst for the National University System Institute for Policy Research, agreed, according to the Union-Tribune. He said, “He walked a fine line on Obama and that made the president a non-issue in the race. Enough independent and Republican voters embraced him because he wasn’t ideological or partisan. He didn’t put out anything in the campaign that scared them. And he didn’t go after the progressive Democratic base because he knew those voters wouldn’t turn out in large numbers.”
Vasquez pointed out that DeMaio didn’t discuss Obama at length, adding, “Here in San Diego, Obama isn’t particularly unpopular. It’s not to the point in other parts of the country where there’s an intensity of dislike.” He added that Peters’ victory was impressive given the myriad of factors arrayed against him, including an unpopular president, an off-year election, and low voter turnout, saying, “It was really designed for a Republican to win.”
There may have been other factors: DeMaio had to fend off two accusations of sexual harassment late in the campaign, among other scandals. It emerged after Election Day that the Peters campaign had more contact with DeMaio’s first accuser than originally revealed, raising questions about Peters’s tactics.