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Democratic Assemblyman Maienschein Faces A Challenger From His Former Party

Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, center, smiles at a news conference where he a...

Credit: Associated Press / Rich Pedroncelli

Above: Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, center, smiles at a news conference where he announced he was switching party registration from Republican to Democrat, Thursday, Jan. 24, 2019, in Sacramento, Calif. Maienschein was flanked by Democratic Assembly members, from left, including Todd Gloria of San Diego, Mark Stone of Scotts Valley, Kevin McCarty of Sacramento, Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher of San Diego and Tom Daly of Anaheim.

Listen to this story by Amita Sharma.

Some Republicans blasted California Assemblyman Brian Maienschein, who represents the 77th district, in 2019 for deserting their party and becoming a Democrat.

Voters get to weigh in for the first time during the March primary on whether they think the party switch was a good move.

Maienschein abandoned the Republican Party early last year. At the time, he said the Democratic platform was more aligned with his values. Maienschein followed up by backing a bill that toughens the rules on when police can use force.

Reported by Amita Sharma , Video by Matthew Bowler

Republican challenger and lawyer June Cutter says Maienschein’s failure to oppose that bill is one reason she entered the race.

Mesa College political science professor Carl Luna said short of slinging mud, Cutter faces an uphill struggle in trying to unseat Maienschein.

“You know there’s no race you can’t lose with enough money on negative advertising so you know something like `Brian Maienschein loves criminals,’ if you put a lot of money into it, you might be able to pull that off” Luna said.

Photo credit: Courtesy June Cutter For State Assembly

Republican lawyer June Cutter is challenging Democratic incumbent Assemblyman Brian Maienschein in the March primary.

Democrats narrowly outnumber Republicans in the 77th Assembly District. As of October, there were 98,751 Democrats compared to 89,084 Republicans.

Luna doesn’t believe non-Democratic voters will abandon Maienschein.

“He’s already won independent voters and some of the Republicans he left behind are still going to stay with him because they know him,” he said.

Luna said Maienschein — first elected to the assembly in 2012 — has another key advantage over Cutter in the 77th Assembly District, which includes Rancho Santa Fe, Fairbanks Ranch, Poway and some areas in San Diego.

“He’s got all the personal community connections,” Luna said. ‘She’s trying to build a reputation from the ground up in a short period of time.”

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Photo of Amita Sharma

Amita Sharma
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs an investigative reporter for KPBS, I've helped expose political scandals and dug into intractable issues like sex trafficking. I've raised tough questions about how government treats foster kids. I've spotlighted the problem of pollution in poor neighborhoods. And I've chronicled corporate mistakes and how the public sometimes ends up paying for them.

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