California: Democrats Appear to Take 3 of 7 Vulnerable Republican Seats

Obama California Democrats (Barbara Davidson / Getty)
Barbara Davidson / Getty

Democrats appeared to win three out of the seven vulnerable U.S. House seats they had targeted in California in the 2018 midterm elections, as their party took the U.S. House overall, though Republicans held on in four of the districts.

The seven seats were those in which Republicans had been re-elected to Congress in 2016 but where voters chose Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. Both parties spent heavily on the races, but Democrats spent far more, with former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg dropping $9 million on two races in the closing weeks.

CA-10: Incumbent Republican Jeff Denham appeared to defeat Democrat Josh Harder by 1.2%. Denham, whose moderate views on immigration irritated conservatives, emphasized his work on water issues for the Central Valley, and attacked his opponent for his ties to the San Francisco Bay Area, nicknaming him “Bay Area” Harder. The Denham campaign has yet to declare victory, citing thousands of absentee ballots and same-day provisional votes.

CA-21: Incumbent Republican David Valadao led by a healthy 6.4% margin in this majority Latino district. Still, the margin was much closer in the general election than in the June 5 primary, when Valadao won more votes than Democrat T.J. Cox by a 2-to-1 margin. Republicans emphasized that Cox had a “primary residence” in Maryland.

CA-25: Democrat Katie Hill appears to have unseated incumbent Republican Steve Knight by 2.6%, emphasizing his vote to repeal Obamacare. Hill is a “Resistance” candidate, mobilizing the grass-roots — and benefiting from $4.5 million in late cash from Bloomberg, who backed anti-gun candidates and Democrats in general.

CA-39: Former state legislator Republican Young Kim appears to have defeated Democrat lottery winner Gil Cisneros, who only recently moved into the district, by 2.6%. Kim may have benefited from the fact that Cisneros faced allegations of sexual misconduct from a fellow Democrat (which were withdrawn before the election).

CA-45: Republican incumbent Mimi Walters appears to have overcome the polls to defeat Democrat law school professor (and Elizabeth Warren protégé) Katie Porter by 3.4%. Walters was the only Republican in Orange County running for re-election who backed President Donald Trump’s tax cut, which hurt wealthy households in the area.

CA-48: In a heartbreaker for libertarians, Republican Dana Rohrabacher appears to have lost narrowly to Democrat challenger Harley Rouda by a 1.4% margin. Rouda attacked Rohrabacher for supporting closer ties with Russia, and benefited from Bloomberg’s late $4 million spend, which made the race one of the country’s most expensive.

CA-49: Democrat apparatchik Mike Levin defeated Republican Diane Harkey, a member of the State Board of Equalization, by less than 5%. The race was much closer than polls had indicated, and Harkey supporters were irritated that the national Republican Party had not spent money to help win retiring Rep. Darrell Issa’s open seat.

Elsewhere, in CA-50, Rep. Duncan Hunter held on to win by 8.4% against Democrat challenger Ammar Campa-Najjar. Hunter was recently indicted on federal charges of misusing campaign funds; Campa-Najjar is the grandson of a Palestinian terrorist. The gas tax repeal, Proposition 6, lost by over 10%, after state Democrats gave it a misleading title. Democrat Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom defeated Republican John Cox for governor by nearly 20%. Sen. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) defeated State Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) — though by less than expected.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

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