Democrats make US House gains in Cal­i­for­nia

The Modesto Bee - - News - BY MICHAEL R. BLOOD Associated Press


Demo­crat Mike Levin on Wed­nes­day cap­tured the South­ern Cal­i­for­nia U.S. House seat held for years by re­tir­ing Repub­li­can Rep. Dar­rell Issa, while GOP Rep. Steve Knight con­ceded his Los An­ge­les-area seat to a Demo­cratic new­comer, 31-year-old Katie Hill.

In San Diego County, Repub­li­can Rep. Dun­can Hunter sur­vived the elec­tion de­spite fac­ing cor­rup­tion charges. A 60-count fed­eral grand jury in­dict­ment against him and his wife al­leges the cou­ple il­le­gally used $250,000 in cam­paign funds for va­ca­tions, meals and other per­sonal ex­penses.

Levin’s vic­tory car­ries sym­bolic weight be­cause of Issa’s nearly two-decade ten­ure, dur­ing which he was a chief an­tag­o­nist of Pres­i­dent Barack Obama. The 49th District is partly in the one-time GOP strong­hold of Orange County. The rest is in San Diego County.

Levin, an en­vi­ron­men­tal at­tor­ney, had about 54 per­cent of nearly 177,000 votes counted so far.

He sparred with Repub­li­can ri­val Diane Harkey over Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s agenda, global warm­ing and im­mi­gra­tion. Harkey, a for­mer state law­maker, had been en­dorsed by the pres­i­dent.

“I don’t think that the tra­di­tional Orange County Repub­li­can em­braces Trump­ism,” Levin told The Associated Press. He said vot­ers in the district are con­cerned with coastal pro­tec­tion and cli­mate change.

Issa’s district was among seven in the state that were car­ried by Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. Democrats saw all as po­ten­tial pick­ups this Novem­ber.

The bat­tle­grounds range from Cen­tral Val­ley farm­land to leg­endary surf­ing spots in Orange County and Knight’s 25th District, which cuts through sub­urbs, horse ranches and high desert in north­ern Los An­ge­les County and a small slice of Ven­tura County.

Knight trailed Hill by 2.5 points with about 163,000 votes counted and thou­sands more left to be tal­lied. The Associated Press has not called the race.

Knight, a for­mer po­lice of­fi­cer, of­fered Hill his con­grat­u­la­tions and said he was proud of his work on veterans’ health care, small busi­ness de­vel­op­ment and de­fense is­sues.

“Our elec­toral process is in­te­gral to our iden­tity as a free and fair so­ci­ety, and the vot­ers have spo­ken,” he said.

Hill stressed her cen­trist pol­i­tics: She’s a gun owner and her Repub­li­can fa­ther is a po­lice of­fi­cer who had never voted for a Demo­crat be­fore her pri­mary. Her mother, a Demo­crat, is a nurse.

“I look for­ward to work­ing on be­half of every­one in this district to en­sure we all have ac­cess to qual­ity health care, hous­ing we can af­ford, and a rep­re­sen­ta­tive and trans­par­ent govern­ment which truly serves the peo­ple,” she said.

Repub­li­can Reps. Mimi Wal­ters and Dana Rohrabacher were fight­ing for their po­lit­i­cal lives in two Orange County dis­tricts they eas­ily won two years ago.

In the 45th District, which has a 7-point GOP reg­is­tra­tion edge, Wal­ters was lead­ing law pro­fes­sor Katie Porter, a pro­tégé of Mas­sachusetts Demo­cratic Sen. El­iz­a­beth War­ren, by about 3 points with 184,000 votes counted.

Porter had cam­paigned on over­turn­ing Trump’s tax re­form pack­age and her sup­port for uni­ver­sal health care.

Rohrabacher, known as Rus­sia’s lead­ing de­fender on Capi­tol Hill, was in a tough race with Repub­li­can-turned-Demo­crat Har­ley Rouda in the 48th District, where the GOP has a 10-point reg­is­tra­tion edge.

Rouda, a real es­tate ex­ec­u­tive, has de­picted the 15-term con­gress­man as the face of Wash­ing­ton grid­lock. He was lead­ing with 51 per­cent of the vote, with about 181,000 counted.

In re­tir­ing GOP Rep. Ed Royce’s 39th District that in­cludes part of Orange County, Repub­li­can Young Kim held a 3-point edge over Demo­crat Gil Cis­neros, with about 150,000 votes counted. If elected, Kim would be­come the first Korean-Amer­i­can im­mi­grant woman elected to the House.

The for­mer state leg­is­la­tor worked for Royce for years and has po­si­tioned her­self as a Trump sup­porter with an in­de­pen­dent streak.

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