“The Path to the House Majority Goes Through California”: Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy’s Home State Could Define the Midterms

Against the Angeles National Forest, where Los Angeles and San Bernardino counties meet, is a political battlefield. There are plenty of them in California, a behemoth of a state with 53 congressional districts, a handful of which are having heated midterm campaigns this year. But in the last two election cycles, the fighting that has flared up in that part of the state — now California’s 27th Circuit — has sparked much intrigue. This was Republican territory for more than two decades, until Democrat katie hill, in a disgruntled, defeated incumbent Steve Knight in 2018 in California’s 25th congressional district. But a heated scandal involving leaked nude photos of Hill and allegations of an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate eventually forced Hill to resign and opened the door to Republicans Mike Garcia retake the seat for his party in a special 2020 election. Garcia retained the seat — by just 333 votes against the former California MP ChristySmith– at the last election. Democrats view November’s rematch as one of their best chances to oust a Republican in the state.

A toss-up race on paper, the Democrats have the advantage here. Among registered voters, Democrats announce a double-digit 12.5 percentage point advantage over Republicans in voter registration, with 21.6% of voters in the district claiming no party preference. Joe Biden the district won over in 2020 donald trump by more than 10 percentage points. It’s districts like this that Democrats hope will buck national midterm trends — with recent polls showing Republicans a four-point lead overall — and work in their favor.

It’s about a lot. The Democrats lost ground in California in 2020, giving up three of the seven seats the party toppled in the 2018 anti-Trump wave. And Republicans only need to turn over five seats to secure a majority in the House of Representatives. In this cycle up to 10 races can be won in California alone; Republicans received a slightly cheaper card in this year’s rebalance than in the past, and a number of districts became more competitive. Both parties pump money into the state. “The road to a majority in the House of Representatives is through California,” said the representative ro khanna, a Democrat representing Silicon Valley said in an interview. “This is our best shot.”

There’s a political poetry for the possibility that Kevin McCarthy‘s struggle to snatch the hammer Nancy Pelosi could come to the duo’s home state. “She always believes in California. That’s how she got involved with the state party, and she first became a spokeswoman by winning seats in California,” Khanna said of Pelosi. “So yeah, there’s a big focus on that.” For the past two weeks, Pelosi has hosted the former President Barack Obama along with Biden and First Lady Jill Biden in California for fundraisers.

McCarthy certainly doesn’t discount California either. Across the country, Republican candidates are eclipsing their Democratic counterparts in the house races in fundraising, as The Washington Post reported – and California is no exception. Garcia has raised $6 million compared to Democrat Smith’s $3 million. Democrats feel that gap; The House Majority PAC canceled $435,000 of a Los Angeles broadcasting purchase due to run later this month that would have targeted Garcia’s seat and two other California Republican incumbents. Young Kim and Michelle Stahl, Per Politically. “The number one factor here is money” Tim Persiko, the Executive Director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee told Politico.

In California, Democrats outnumber Republicans nearly two to one. But the state is not homogeneous. In Pelosi California, the protection of democracy and access to abortion are driving voters to the polls. For McCarthy, President Biden’s listless approval ratings and the economy are the focus. As the election approaches, these narrow precincts are evolving into microcosms of the national political environment. In November, Californians will also vote on Proposition 1, which would amend the state constitution to not only enshrine abortion rights but also protect access to contraceptives. Congressman from California Ted Lieu told me in a recent interview that he believes the election proposal will result in a nationwide voter turnout. But with a Democrat Gavin Newsom In the California governor’s mansion, access to abortions in the state doesn’t face the same threat as it does in a red state like Kansas, where residents voted overwhelmingly to stop lawmakers from restricting access. The average price per gallon of gasoline in California — over $6 — may prove to be a clearer reality.

“California always plays into the calculation whoever is the Republican leader and whoever is the Democratic leader,” jim brutte, the former leader of the California Republican Party and a former senator said. “In general elections, I think it’s almost a myth that there’s a so-called Trump effect. Voters don’t decide by looking in the rear-view mirror. In 2018 there was a Trump effect. The overwhelming effect taking place in this cycle is the Biden Effect.”

“There’s a reason Nancy Pelosi spends money on defense Katie Porter and Kevin McCarthy spends money to vote scott baugh,‘ Bulte added, referring to one of Orange County’s controversial races.

Garcia voted to annul the 2020 presidential election results; he voted against impeachment against Trump over the role the former president played in the Jan. 6 riot, and supported the Life at Conception Act, which not only bans abortion outright in almost all cases, but also bans access to certain contraceptives would restrict. “After that very close loss in 2020, when I played against my opponent, it made me doubly realize what we knew about my opponent – but how extreme he is,” Smith said vanity fair. “He’s someone who got into a purple district at a moment of crisis by really not revealing much about his actual positions.”

“Now that he’s got a ballot … I think this district understands how important it is that he doesn’t represent that community in Congress,” Smith said. That and the fact that the conservative-oriented Simi Valley was cut out of the district borders as a result of the redistribution. Unsurprisingly, Garcia lobbied against the new card. “I think Mike Garcia probably has the toughest road of the incumbents,” Rob Stutzman, former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s chief aide, said. “He lost Republican voters. The district just got tougher.” Garcia did not respond to a request for comment. His campaign focused on reducing taxes and inflation, and regularly promotes his career as a fighter pilot in the Navy.

republican ken calvert, who has served in Congress for three decades is in a similar boat. Once a Republican stronghold, California’s 41st congressional district now includes part of the Coachella Valley and most notably Palm Springs — home to a concentrated LGBTQ+ voter base. For years, Calvert has opposed laws protecting same-sex marriage (he turned the issue on its head in July of this year, only after redistribution planted “America’s gayest city” in his borough). In his 1994 congressional campaign, Calvert distributed purple and pink campaign flyers aimed at his opponent Markus Takano, who — though he has since done so — had not publicly come out as gay and asked if Takano would become a “Congressman for Riverside … or San Francisco,” saying, “If only people knew that real Mark Takano.” In 2009, he also voted against legislation expanding funding for hate crimes, including those based on gender and sexual orientation.

Meanwhile his opponent, Democrat Will Rollins is an openly gay federal prosecutor who called Calvert’s voting behavior part of “a pattern of his pandering to the far right.” That was a hugely successful political strategy for him up until this cycle because of the deep red district he was in.”

Rollins, who prosecuted Jan. 6 insurgents, has made Trump’s influence on democracy and misinformation key elements of his campaign. It was Calvert’s stance on these issues that really motivated Rollins to run – even before the constituency was re-elected.

“I thought I was going to run in a Trump plus seven district,” he said. “If we don’t stand up and face people like that, they have proven that they are willing to throw everything our ancestors fought and died for out the window today in the service of Donald Trump. I think this is so fundamentally un-American, and such a tremendous threat to the Republic, that people of all political persuasions must take a stand right now against this type of voting denial, which poses a massive threat to our country and the rule of law as we have it just haven’t seen it since the 19th century, really.” Calvert didn’t respond to a request for comment.

In districts like these, the issues on which Republican and Democratic candidates base their electoral futures will clash. Is it the economy, fool, or will it come down to women’s suffrage? Are voters concerned about the integrity of the elections or are they focused on gas prices? There is a certain poignancy to the notion that the end of Pelosi’s term as Speaker of the House could amount to a few hundred votes in a handful of counties in her home state. Should the Democrats lose the House of Representatives, Pelosi’s tenure as Democratic leader is likely to come to an end.

On Tuesday, Pelosi had a message for her caucus — particularly those calling for new leadership: “I say just win baby. Just win.”

https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2022/10/california-congressional-races-nancy-pelosi “The Path to the House Majority Goes Through California”: Nancy Pelosi and Kevin McCarthy’s Home State Could Define the Midterms

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