San Bernardino Could Decide California Primary — and Nomination

AP Photo
The Associated Press

In the down-to-the-wire battle between GOP frontrunner Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), California’s 31st congressional district could play a key role in the California primary — and the Republican nomination.

Nestled firmly within San Bernardino County, the area was the site of the horrific Islamic terror attacks last December that left 14 dead and dozens injured. At least one of the two attackers attended a radical Tablighi Jamaat mosque that sits within this district. The other came to the United States on a K-1 finance visa. The event heightened awareness of illegal immigration.

In response, Trump suggested a temporary ban on Muslims attempting to travel to the United States. Meanwhile, Cruz has made  the words “radical Islamic terrorism” a key point of contrast with Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration.

On Thursday, Cruz’s father, Rafael Cruz will address members of the San Bernardino County Republican Party at the group’s monthly Central Committee meeting. The same evening, Central Committee voting members will have the opportunity to vote in a presidential straw poll. The committee will also vote on candidate endorsements in down ballot races.

“Looks like the Ted Cruz campaign didn’t get the memo from the media that Donald Trump was the presumptive Republican nominee,” said John Berry, a Tea Party Patriots state coordinator and a voting member of the Central Committee. “Clearly, Ted Cruz is drawing his battle lines in California.”

Democrat Pete Aguilar has represented the district in the U.S. House of Representatives since January 2015. He was preceded by Republican Rep. Gary Miller, who was preceded by a Democrat. Miller served only two years.

The California Secretary of State’s office reports that almost a quarter of the 31st congressional district’s registered voters, 24 percent, have indicated no party preference. Redistricting moved the 31st from Los Angeles to San Bernardio County in 2013. In San Bernardino County over 22 percent of voters are registered with no party as of January 2016, while almost 38 percent are registered Democrats and over 34 percent are registered Republicans.

Voter registration for the county is down by more than 70,000 people as of January 2016. Of San Bernardino County’s over 800,000 residents registered to vote in 2012, 38.82 percent were registered Democrats, and 37.23 percent were registered Republicans. Just over 19 percent of the registered voters officially have no party preference.

California’s 47th Assembly District overlaps with the 31st Congressional District. Contributions and independent expenditures in that State Assembly district are up to approximately $2.3 million according to the Los Angeles Times. Two Democrats are vying for the Assembly seat held by one of them. As noted in other Breitbart California analysis, Trump is expected to do well among California voters that feel disenfranchised.

However, areas closely contested between Democrats and Republicans — as in much of the rest of the 31st congressional district, tend to favor Cruz in the California primary.

But Trump’s strong response to the San Bernardino attacks, and his support among local conservative activists, could make the difference.

The very active Redlands Tea Party Patriots group plans to knock on the doors of up to 5,000 voters before the June 7 primary. In 2012 the group knocked on 8,300 doors, and knocked on a similar number in 2014, by its own estimation. Board members for the group support Trump 5 to 1, but they will be supporting both candidates for now, at least publicly.

Voter turnout has also been a significant factor in several 2016 Republican primary contests and could play a significant part in results for the 31st district as well.

Redlands TPP spokesman John Berry told Breitbart News that of the Trump and Cruz supporters in his region, most would vote for either candidate in the November general election rather than staying home and watching Hillary Clinton win.

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana