In a state that’s central to the battle for control of the House, Democrats emerged from a filing deadline late Wednesday resigned to the possibility that no Democratic candidate will appear on the November ballot in several key House races.

California’s unusual, top-two primary system — in which the top two vote-getters advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation — had raised the prospect of a nightmare scenario in several districts where crowded fields of Democratic candidates might splinter their party’s share of the vote, enabling two Republicans to finish atop the field in the June primary.
In response, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee and state party leaders had spent weeks running up to the deadline working to cull large fields of Democrats in targeted contests.
By Wednesday, a handful of Democrats had abandoned their campaigns to replace retiring Republican Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce in Southern California. But as the candidate filing period closed, the glut of Democrats remaining still threatened to split the primary vote — leaving open the possibility that two Republicans could advance to the general election, wiping Democrats off the ballot entirely in November.
Democrats face a similar quandary in Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s Orange County-based district, where the recent entry into the race of another prominent Republican, former state Assemblyman and Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh, complicated the candidate math.

Darry Sragow and Rob Pyers of the California Target Book, which handicaps races in the state, wrote in an analysis for POLITICO that with “eight Democrats competing for between 40 and 45 percent of the district’s traditional Democratic vote, the odds of one of the eight consolidating enough of the vote to overcome Baugh’s popularity and name recognition are daunting, to say the least. A Republican-only top two runoff is possible here in November.”

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