Democrats cling to seats they overturned in 2018


Four California congressional races were still up for grabs on Wednesday, as Democrats worked desperately to retain the seats they won in the party’s sweep in the 2018 midterm election.

The tightest races included one for a Fresno area seat in the Central Valley, one showdown in Los Angeles County and two Orange County contests.

In the most watched battle, Democrats were looking to recapture a seat they lost in a special election in May. Democratic Congressman Christy Smith held a narrow lead over GOP Representative Mike Garcia of Santa Clarita, Los Angeles County in a seat that hovers between the high desert towns of Lancaster and Palmdale in the west to the city of Simi Valley in Ventura County.

Democrats were looking to reclaim a seat they won two years ago and then lost in the special election after Democratic Rep. Katie Hill resigned over a sex scandal.

It was the rubber match between the two candidates, with Smith winning the primary in March and Garcia, a businessman and former Navy pilot, taking a surprisingly easy 55% to 45% victory in the May second round.

In the San Joaquin Valley, Democratic Representative TJ Cox of Fresno followed closely behind former GOP Representative David Valadao of Hanford, Kings County. In 2018, Cox beat Valadao by 862 votes in a contest that was not decided until almost a month after polling day.

In a campaign marked by relentless attacks, Cox and Valadao have raised nearly $ 9 million. The party and political action committee injected an additional $ 13 million, mostly for television commercials that covered Central Valley airwaves.

There was another rematch in the 39th Congressional District of Orange County, where Democratic Representative Gil Cisneros was virtually tied with former GOP MP Young Kim.

After losing to Cisneros in 2018 in a race that was only decided more than a week after the election, Kim edged out the incumbent by just one percentage point in the March primary.

Further south, Democratic Representative Harly Rouda of Laguna Beach was in a almost tied with Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel. Rouda scored an easy victory over longtime GOP representative Dana Rohrabacher in 2018, and was trying to repeat that victory in a district where Republicans hold a 5 percentage point registration advantage.

Democrats won in two more districts they took from Republicans in 2018 and were well ahead in a third.

In the Central Valley, Rep. Josh Harder of Turlock (Stanislaus County) won an easy 59% to 41% victory over Republican Ted Howze, a former Turlock town councilor. Howze’s campaign took a serious hit in May when a Politico article revealed that there were a number of anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant and conspiracy theory posts on his social media accounts.

Rep. Katie Porter of Irvine took the victory over Republican Greg Raths, municipal councilor for Mission Viejo (Orange County), by 54-46%. Porter, a rising star in the Democratic Party, raised more than $ 13 million for his campaign, 10 times more than Raths.

Democratic Representative Mike Levin of San Juan Capistrano (Orange County) defeated Brian Maryott, a San Juan Capistrano city councilor, by 55% to 45%

In San Diego County, Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar were vying for the seat left vacant by the resignation of GOP Representative Duncan Hunter, who was sentenced to federal prison in March for embezzlement of campaign funds. Issa, a former deputy from a neighboring district, headed Campa-Najjar.

GOP Rep Devin Nunes of Tulare won a surprisingly tight contest against Democrat Phil Arballo, while Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove (Sacramento County), held a lead over Democrat Bryanne Kennedy with much of the votes counted. .

Republican Congressman Jay Obernolte of Big Bear Lake (San Bernardino County) was engaged in a surprisingly close battle with Democratic businesswoman Christine Bubser of Mammoth Lakes (Mono County) for a seat left vacant by the departure to the retirement of GOP representative Paul Cook. In 2018, Cook was re-elected in a Republicans-only contest where he won 60% of the vote.

In San Francisco, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi won her 16th full term in Congress, handily beating fellow Democrat Shahid Buttar, from 79% to 21%.

John Wildermuth is a writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. Email: [email protected] Twitter: @jfwildermuth


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