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California races will be pivotal in determining House control

Barring divine intervention or the West Coast being underwater, President Biden will easily win California in the November election.

But if he, or Donald Trump, the likely Republican nominee, secures a second term in the fall, the future of both policy issues will depend largely on which party controls Congress, and the current U.S. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House of Representatives.

The Golden State is home to some of the nation's most competitive swing districts, and the fate of the House will almost certainly hinge on California.

The battle for partisan political control over the next two years will be waged door-to-door, from the cul-de-sacs of California's coastal suburbs to the small farming towns of the state's fertile Central Valley.

Those battlegrounds would look a lot like Bridge Creek Plaza, a sun-kissed shopping center a few hundred meters from a freeway on-ramp in Orange County's Huntington Beach. The mall is home to a Crystal store, several insurance brokers, a dentist, and the local Republican Party headquarters.

Here, on Election Day morning, about two dozen Republican supporters gathered to bow their heads, say a quick prayer and take the oath of allegiance to portable flags before turning their attention to California Republican Party Chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson. It is also a place where

Patterson was in a great mood.

when she first Elected as party leader in 2019, California's Republican Party is “essentially the third-largest party in the state,” with a lower percentage of voters registering to “drop the state” in favor of party.

But over the past five years, Mr. Patterson has led a massive voter registration drive that has lifted his party back to second place. People across the country like to downplay “Blue California,” she said, but are forgetting that California has more registered Republicans than any other state.

“That's why California Republicans have a majority in the House,” she added, to loud cheers.

Hoping to maintain that majority, the group will spend the morning of the March 5 primary voting for Republican attorney and former state representative Scott Baugh to support soon-to-be Democratic Rep. Katie Porter. He decided to spend his time campaigning for his support. -Change the backrests of parliamentary seats from blue to red.

Scott Baugh is trying to get Orange County's 47th District back into the red. The seat is a key target of state and national Republican efforts to maintain control of the House.

(Gary Coronado/Los Angeles Times)

The latest round of redistricting incorporated more conservative enclaves such as Huntington Beach and Newport Beach into California's 47th Congressional District, leaving Mr. Baugh with a significant lead in spending against Porter in 2022. He lost by a narrow margin, making coastal Orange County one of the most competitive races in the nation. .

Charismatic porter goes out photo After a failed vote in the Senate. Her seat is one of the National Republican Congressional Committee's three targets and a top priority in California. And it is equally highly praised by the Democratic Party.

In a country where the two major parties are divided by hostility and mistrust on most issues, the centrality of California to House strategy in November is one of the few things Republicans and Democrats can agree on.

There are 10 races in California that are rated competitive By the nonpartisan Cook Political Report Five of those districts are represented by Republicans, but they were districts won by President Biden in 2020. Both parties will likely spend heavily on these constituencies in the coming months, as public attention inevitably turns to the West.

With a rematch expected between Biden and Trump, turnout in 2024 is also likely to be significantly higher than in the 2022 midterm elections. That could give Democrats an advantage, given their registration advantage in many of the battleground states. Republicans gained one California House seat in the 2022 midterm elections, but that election had significantly lower turnout than two years ago, when Biden and Trump led.

“At the end of the day, the path to 218 seats runs through California,” said Dan Gottlieb, a spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, referring to the number of seats needed to win a House majority. Ta.

A shoulder-to-shoulder view of Dave Ming, wearing a blue suit jacket and looking to the left, with dark wood pillars in the background.

Dave Ming will face Beau in the November runoff for the 47th District seat, which is vacated by Katie Porter. Min's bitter primary battle for the key seat has already cost the Democratic Party millions of dollars.

(Ricci Pedroncelli/Associated Press)

Gottlieb said that in addition to the expected high turnout in the presidential election, strong Democratic candidates and a group of “dysfunctional and apathetic Republicans are enabling the worst of the party's chaos, dysfunction, and extremism.” He was bullish about the party's potential.

But the outlook for Mr. Gottlieb's Republican side is similarly rosy, with Ben Petersen, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, predicting an ugly slump that has consumed Democrats in some of the state's most important battlegrounds. He was overjoyed at the expensive primary election.

Within the OC area Where Republican allies agitated for Bo on primary morning, Democrats sunk millions of dollars into a painful primary race between state Sen. Dave Minn and fellow Democrat Joanna Weiss. Mr. Min ultimately won, but only after surviving a barrage of negative publicity centered around his 2023 drunk-driving arrest — which is likely due to Mr. Bo's fall. It would be a gift to Republicans ahead of the fight.

“Far-right Democrats are recovering from a vicious primary battle, defeated by Republicans who saw a surge in support for common-sense safety and affordability policies,” Petersen said. The results make it clear that Republicans are “on the offensive in California,” he added, setting them up for victory in November.

However, Baugh is not expected to emerge unscathed. In 2022, porter advertising campaign He criticized Republicans not only for his anti-abortion stance, but also for his work as a lobbyist and for campaign violations, for which he was criminally charged and ultimately paid a $47,000 fine.

In the San Joaquin Valley, there were last-minute fears that intense primary contests would lock Democrats out of the races where they had the best chance of flipping the seat, but those fears turned out to be overblown.

Rudy Salas, backed by the establishment Democratic Party, is looking to secure a spot in the fall against incumbent Rep. David Valadao (R-Hanford) in the 22nd Congressional District, where he will face fellow Democratic Rep. Melissa Melissa. Although he defeated Hurtado, the race also dealt a major blow to the Democratic Party's finances.

The race in November is A rematch of the pair's 2022 runoff, When Mr. Salas lost to Mr. Valadao by a few thousand votes. And Salas and Valadao aren't the only rematches on the November ticket.

Incumbent Republican Rep. John Duarte faces Democratic challenger Adam Gray again in the agricultural San Joaquin Valley region, which includes all of Merced County and parts of Fresno, Madera, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties. I will do it. Mr. Duarte won the 13th Congressional District, the nation's closest midterm election, by less than 600 votes.

Hundreds of miles to the southeast, in Southern California, Democratic challenger Will Rollins will once again face Republican incumbent Rep. Ken Calvert, the longest-serving member of California's delegation. The recently redrawn 41st Congressional District stretches from the Inland suburb of His Empire, where Calvert lived for many years, to his Springs of Palm, where Rollins and his partners are based.

The district's new boundaries now include one of the nation's largest concentrations of LGBTQ+ voters and some liberal Californians in the desert, but far more They are very friendly. They also set up Mr. Rollins, who is gay, as a likely challenger to Mr. Calvert, who has voted against LGBTQ+ rights in the past. He says his views have since evolved.

One race with some new blood this year is California's 27th Congressional District, located in northern Los Angeles County, after the same candidates battled it out in the past three elections.

Once a heavily Republican district, the district has been reshaped through redistricting and political change driven by a young, diverse population who have migrated from Los Angeles to find affordable housing in Santa Clarita and the Antelope Valley. experienced a transition. Former Rep. Katie Hill's 2018 victory briefly flipped the district from red to blue, but the younger Democrat's district very public scandal His eventual resignation allowed the seat to return to the Republicans.

Incumbent Republican Congressman Mike Garcia won the seat in a special election in 2019, defeating Democrat Christy Smith, and then served two more terms in 2020 and 2022. He is scheduled to face new Democratic challenger George Whiteside in November.

Ludovic Blain, executive director of California Donor Table, a progressive organization that collects donations, said his organization is partnering with local nonprofits in key areas to get voters of color to the polls. He said he hopes to work together and invest about $10 million in the fall California House elections.

They will focus on seven key races: the three aforementioned rematches, Porter's open seat and two other Orange County races, and the matchup between Garcia and Whiteside.

One concern Mr. Blaine raised was that Republican Steve Garvey, who is running against Rep. Adam B. Schiff (D-Burbank) in the Senate race, is near the top of the race. This could have an impact on the Democratic Party in the election.

Mr. Schiff engaged in a controversial strategy in the primary, backing Mr. Garvey against Mr. Porter and another major Democratic challenger, Rep. Barbara Lee (D-N.C.), who was backed by Mr. Blaine's organization. , Auckland).

It was a gamble that some in the Democratic establishment argued would actually help Democrats in other close races because less competitive Senate races would siphon far less money from party coffers.

But some, like Blaine, argue that Garvey's presence could hurt Democrats who voted against him. Additionally, adding him to the ballot could attract moderate Republicans and independent voters who are dissatisfied with Trump.

“I think Mr. Garvey's presence has spiked or even encouraged turnout among Republican voters. More importantly, it has encouraged them to vote no,” Blaine said.

Patterson agreed. Unlike Mr. Trump, Mr. Garvey will likely campaign throughout the state, providing inspiration to other Republicans in the process.

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