First-term representatives are the most vulnerable members of Congress. Now, Ventura Democrat Julia Brownley has an official opponent: Republican Assemblyman Jeff Gorell.
Gorell, a former deputy district attorney from Camarillo, was first elected to the state legislature three years ago. His service in Sacramento was interrupted by a tour of Afghanistan with the Navy in 2011. Announcing his decision to run for Congress, Gorell says he is "sick and tired" of the "partisan games and gridlock" crippling Washington.
Most politicos expected a Congressional rematch in Ventura between Brownley and her 2012 opponent, former state Senator Tony Strickland. Brownley beat Strickland by six percentage points last fall. Gorell says he has Strickland's endorsement for the seat. It's likely that Strickland would run for a seat currently held by longtime Simi Valley Congressman Buck McKeon should he decide to retire. McKeon, 75, is chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and has served in Congress since 1993.
The National Republican Congressional Committee has been targeting Brownley for months. Most recently, the attacks have been about the Affordable Care Act, with e-mails playing off the President's broken promise that you can keep your health care: "if you don't like Julia Brownley, you don't have to keep her."
Relations between Gorell and Brownley are not entirely adversarial. Last month, Gorell asked House Republicans to support amendments to a water resources bill she proposed to repair erosion damage to Hueneme Beach.