From a statewide view, California is a reliably Democratic state these days–but zoom in closer, to the level of individual Congressional districts, and it’s not always so blue. There were a number of races in 2018 that were competitive, including some districts that have been held by Republicans for years, especially in areas like Orange County or the far Los Angeles suburbs, which Democrats needed to flip if they were going to take the majority. Here’s how the night shook out for the California house races.
All the Seats that Changed Hands
CA-25 – Winner: Katie Hill (D)
This district includes Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, Palmdale, Lancaster, and other areas of the far northern San Fernando Valley and a bit of Ventura Country. It has been represented by Republicans for 25 years, most recently by Steve Knight. That run ended last night with the election of Katie Hill, a 31-year-old progressive described by The Guardian as “America’s most millennial candidate.”
CA-48 – Projected Winner: Harley Rouda (D)
Republican Dana Rohrabacher has represented Orange County in Congress since 1989, a job he started after spending a dozen years as an aide to Ronald Reagan. Recently, he’s made headlines for his strongly pro-Putin views, and for a particularly embarrassing appearance on Sacha Baron Cohen’s show Who Is America? He looks set to be defeated by Democratic challenger Harley Rouda, a real estate investor and first-time candidate, who currently leads by 2,000 votes. The race was one of the most expensive House campaigns in the country, and Rouda was helped by a $4 million donation from former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg. Rohrabacher has not yet conceded.
CA-49 – Winner: Mike Levin (D)
Darrell Issa left this district, a coastal slice of northern San Diego county and southern Orange County, open when he announced he would not run for reelection (Issa won’t be unemployed, the vocal Trump ally has been nominated for a new job as the President’s Director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency). Replacing him will be Democrat Mike Levin, a 40-year-old environmental activist and first-time candidate of Latino and Jewish heritage who ran on a platform of energy issues, affordable heath care and education, and a strong support for Planned Parenthood.
And a Few Noteworthy Victories by Incumbents
CA-22 – Winner: Devin Nunes (R)
Devin Nunes, one of Donald Trump’s closest allies in the House and a vehement denier of climate change (he stated in September he believed the clean-energy movement to be the result of Russian meddling) held his seat. He did so, however, by what appears to be the closest margin of his career; in 2016 he sailed back to D.C. by a margin of 35 points, this time is was only 12.
CA-50 – Winner: Duncan D. Hunter (R)
Duncan D. Hunter, a Republican currently facing federal corruption charges for his alleged embezzlement of campaign funds and lavish spending on bachelor parties and D.C. bar tabs, among other personal expenses, has been in Congress since taking over the seat vacated by his father, Duncan Lee Hunter, in 2008. He successfully defended his seat against challenger, Ammar Campa-Najjar, a young former Obama aide. Poll-watchers in San Diego reported that the county decided to allow same-day registration at only one location, and wait times at that site were around three hours throughout the day, which could have hurt Democratic turnout.
CA-10 – Winner: Jeff Denham (R)
This district in the suburbs of San Jose was considered a toss-up going into election day, and analysts thought Democrat Josh Hardner might have a chance to take the seat from incumbent Republican Jeff Denham. The district is young and heavily Latino/a, so Denham’s campaign kept a low-profile on the Congressman’s collaborations with President Trump, which may have helped. He held on by a margin of just 1.2 percent. Watch this seat again in 2020.
CA-12 – Winner: Nancy Pelosi (D)
No surprise, but, once again, Nancy Pelosi trounced the competition. The current Minority Leader goes back to Washington with 85.5 percent of her constituents behind her, not a bad look if she wants her old gig as Speaker of the House back.
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