Two from Garberville seek to unseat Jared Huffman

North Coast Rep. Jared Huffman, who dominated a crowded primary election two years ago, has no qualms about the two challengers he faces in the June 3 primary, a much lower-key political event.

"They're very nice guys," said Huffman, 50, a San Rafael Democrat bidding for his second term in Congress. "I like 'em both."

Huffman, who won the House seat vacated by former Rep. Lynn Woolsey in 2012, is expected to easily beat Democrat Andy Caffrey, a Garberville activist who got 1 percent of the vote two years ago, and newcomer Dale Mensing, a Republican, also from Garberville in Humboldt County.

Huffman, who was termed out of the state Assembly, took 37.5 percent of the primary vote in 2012 spread among eight Democrats, two Republicans and two no party preference candidates.

Marin County Republican Dan Roberts was a distant second with 15 percent, then lost to Huffman, who took 71 percent in the November runoff.

Huffman has reported $722,293 in campaign donations this year, while Caffrey, a political activist, and Mensing, a supermarket cashier, reported no funding.

Given his financial strength, name recognition and politics that match a left-leaning, Democrat-dominated district, Huffman will likely score a "sophomore surge," said David McCuan, a Sonoma State University political scientist.

The term refers to incumbent freshmen whose advantages, including previous political experience, position them to "demolish their opponents" on the second go-round, McCuan said.

The 2nd Congressional District, which stretches from Marin County to the Oregon border, could be Huffman's "to own for decades," McCuan said. The district excludes Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma Valley.

As a House newcomer, Huffman said he experienced "culture shock" after passing more than 60 bills in six years in the Assembly.

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