Nancy Pelosi Targets Seven California Districts — But Republicans Hold Strong

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi is seen on stage at NIAF's 32nd Anniversary Awards Gala on October 13, 2007 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Nancy Ostertag/Getty Images)
Nancy Ostertag/Getty Images

Seven congressional districts in California could make Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) Speaker of the House again — but Republicans are holding firm, for now.

What the seven districts have in common is that each is currently represented by a Republican, but each voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election.

That has encouraged Democrats to target those seven districts — amounting to half of the 14 seats that are held by Republicans in California (out of 53 total in the state).

But of the seven, only one — CA-49, represented by retiring Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) — is currently listed by the Cook Political Report as “lean Democratic.”

Four of the districts — CA-10 (Jeff Denham), CA-25 (Steve Knight), CA-39 (Ed Royce, retiring), and CA-48 (Dana Rohrabacher) — are listed as “toss-ups.”

One, CA-45 (Mimi Walters), is listed as “lean Republican,” while another, CA-21 (David Valadao), is listed as “likely Republican.”

Moreover, the results of the California primary last month are encouraging for Republicans. Turnout was relatively high, at 37% — the highest for a midterm primary in 20 years.

And yet Republican voters constituted a majority in six of the seven targeted districts. Only in CA-49 did a majority of primary voters cast their ballots for a Democrat.

CA-49 has been trending Democratic in recent years — which is perhaps one of the reasons Rep. Issa chose to retire, after a near-escape in 2016.

But luckily for Republicans, their candidate in CA-49, California Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey, is superb. She is also the highest-ranking elected Republican in the state and knows how to run a winning campaign.

The other weak spot is CA-48, where Rep. Rohrabacher is facing liberal attacks on his policy record, particularly his dovish approach to Russia. But Rohrabacher is confident — and shrewd: his offer to help fund attacks on California’s “sanctuary state” laws helped grass-roots conservatives regroup.

There is also an outside chance that Republicans pick up a Democratic seat or two — thanks in part to celebrity candidates like Antonio Sabato, Jr. (CA-26) and Kimberlin Brown Pelzer (CA-36).

Democrats believe they have the momentum right now, in the wake of the recent controversy over President Donald Trump’s policies at the border.

But California Republicans have a champion in businessman John Cox, who qualified for the general election in the governor’s race and is taking the fight to his Democratic opponent, Lt. Gov. Gavin. Newson.

The challenge facing Republicans is great, and Democrats are about to pour millions of dollars into each of these seven races. But in a tough environment, the GOP is in a solid position to defend its seats — and to keep Nancy Pelosi away from the Speaker’s gavel.

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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