fog.png
Thursday May 28th, 2020 1:23PM

Battered California Republicans see hope in rare House win

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — California Republicans have been waiting for a turning point and some think it's finally arrived.

The party of Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan has been fading in California for years: Democrats control every statewide office, dominate the Legislature and hold all but eight of the state’s 53 U.S. House seats. The GOP’s deficit in voter registrations: a staggering 4.4 million.

But the victory last week of a President Donald Trump-supporting former Navy pilot in a contested U.S. House race north of Los Angeles has emboldened Republicans.

“Do I think we’ve turned a corner? Absolutely,” said Jessica Millan Patterson, who heads the state party.

The GOP hit a humiliating low in 2018 when Democrats picked up seven Republican House seats in the state, even driving Republicans out of the one-time conservative fortress of Orange County. The rout helped Democrats retake the House.

The same year, the number of registered independent voters eclipsed Republicans in the state, reducing the GOP to third-place status.

After the losses, Republican National Committee member Shawn Steel said the state party had “reached the point of desperation” and was “completely outmatched” by state Democrats.

But the 10-point win by newcomer Mike Garcia over Democratic Assemblywoman Christy Smith in the 25th District — the kind of suburban swing district both parties covet — gave the GOP a rare moment of celebration, though it’s significance for November is open to debate.

It was the first time in over two decades that a Republican captured a Democratic-held congressional district in California.

Whether Garcia's win was a sign of shifting politics or an aberration will be tested in Orange County, where Republicans hope to retake as many as four seats, all or partly in the county, lost in 2018.

Once a foundation block in the modern conservative movement and the rise of the Reagan revolution, the county has been a center for push-back against Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom's stay-at-home orders aimed at stemming the spread of the coronavirus.

Three weeks ago Newsom shut down the entire Orange County coastline after a heat wave drew large crowds to beaches in violation of state rules. A day later protesters filled the streets of the surfing mecca of Huntington Beach.

Garcia’s win “is a harbinger” for the November elections, Steel said.

Steel’s wife, Michelle Steel, chair of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, is on the ballot in the coastal 48th District, where she’s trying to oust freshman Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda. She seized on the beach shutdown to criticize Rouda, saying he postured rather than take on Newsom. The beaches were later reopened, albeit with restrictions including no sunbathing.

Both parties have quickly tried to generate donations on the outcome in the 25th.

U.S. Rep. Josh Harder, a freshman Democrat in California’s Central Valley, told supporters in an email that Garcia's win “is not a great sign for California Democrats in the fall.”

“We will need every single person to step up,” he said in an appeal for donations as small as $10.

Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly, who served 13 terms before retiring in 2013, described Garcia’s victory as a “first domino” in a GOP turnaround. “We are going to see others fall,” he predicted on election night.

At a time when many ask if Republicans are relevant in California, Garcia “didn’t win, he overwhelmingly won,” Gallegly said in an interview. And turnout was surprisingly strong for an election in mid-May.

A welcoming sign for the GOP: Garcia appears to have performed well with independents, who make up about one in four voters in the state and typically lean Democratic. And running as an outsider against California’s Democratic leadership, Garcia likely benefited from restlessness among many voters after nearly two months under government stay-at-home orders.

Indeed, the Republicans running for House seats this fall are positioning themselves as challengers to the status quo. They’ve been attacking the Democratic incumbents as sellouts who ran two years ago as moderates, only to fall in line under House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s leadership.

Politics swing in cycles, with change usually triggered by some type of crisis. Republicans are hoping the current environment in Democratic-controlled California plays to their favor, with many residents unhappy with stay-at-home and beach-closing orders during the coronavirus outbreak, the economy sinking, drastic budget cuts in Sacramento and a long list of persistent problems, from homelessness to a housing shortage.

But there are also factors that could make the party’s optimism misplaced.

Garcia’s win was under unusual circumstances: A special election, in the middle of May, with most residents under stay-at-home orders and traditional campaigning halted. Mail-in ballots were sent to every voter, and his win was powered by reliable, older GOP voters, while it appears younger, more fickle Democrats stayed away.

And in November, the electorate will be far different.

Presidential elections typically draw a large Democratic turnout in California, which could be bolstered this year by widespread opposition to the president in a state known as the home of the so-called Trump resistance.

California’s shift to Democratic dominance was driven by demographic change. California was once a reliably Republican state in presidential elections, but a surge in immigration transformed the state and its voting patterns, while many white, middle-class families moved out.

The number of Hispanics, blacks and Asians has outnumbered whites since 1998. And many of those new voters lean Democratic, while the number of registered Republicans has been in a freefall for years.

That will make it harder for the GOP — many of those new, younger voters grimace at the Republican brand. The voters who sent Nixon and Reagan to office decades ago are greatly diminished in number, replaced with younger voters with a liberal bent. You'd have to go back a generation to find a Republican who carried the state in a presidential election: George H.W. Bush, in 1988.

“Democrats have consistently picked up more seats across the country since Trump’s election, and one temporary setback isn’t going to change that,” said Los Angeles Democratic Party Chair Mark Gonzalez, noting Trump lost the 25th District in 2016.

But Sam Oh, who is running campaigns for Republican House contenders Steel and Young Kim in Southern California, sees Garcia’s win as confirmation that voters are looking for a new direction.

“November will come down to which side is going to be able to convince voters they are going to be able to change things,” Oh said. “People are fed up with the status quo.”

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General Presidential Election News, General House Election News
© Copyright 2020 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Asia Today: Hong Kong testing more airport, care home staff
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam says the territory is ramping up testing, especially for airport workers and caregivers at homes for the elderly and disabled
1:02AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Battered California Republicans see hope in rare House win
Beaten-down California Republicans see hope for November after a U.S. House win in Southern California
1:01AM ( 32 minutes ago )
2017 video shows Georgia officer tried to tase Ahmaud Arbery
A video released Monday shows police in Georgia attempting to search Ahmaud Arbery’s parked car in 2017 and when he refuses and attempts to walk back to the vehicle an officer tried to tase him
12:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Oregon Supreme Court halts order nixing virus restrictions
The Oregon Supreme Court late Monday halted a rural judge’s order earlier in the day that had tossed out statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Democratic Gov. Kate Brown
11:53PM ( 1 hour ago )
FBI: Shooter at Pensacola base coordinated with al-Qaida
U.S. officials say they have proven a link between the gunman in the deadly December attack at the Pensacola Naval Air Station and al-Qaida
11:46PM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump says he's taking malaria drug to protect against virus
President Donald Trump's White House doctor says he and Trump had “numerous discussions” about the evidence for and against the president taking hydroxychloroquine before they concluded that the potential benefit from taking the malaria drug outweighed the relative risks
10:49PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Florida Sen. Rubio named acting chair of intelligence panel
Florida Sen. Marco Rubio is taking over the powerful Senate intelligence committee
5:43PM ( 7 hours ago )
Powell says Fed will name borrowers, will use all its tools
Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell is pledging to reveal the names and other details of the entities that borrow from the emergency programs the central bank has set up to offset the economic hit from the viral outbreak
5:14PM ( 8 hours ago )
SBA leaves businesses still hoping for more leeway on loans
Small businesses hoping for more leeway in using coronavirus loan money were disappointed as the government released instructions for seeking forgiveness for the loans
3:12PM ( 10 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Sweeping federal lawsuit seeks election changes in Wisconsin
Advocates for people with disabilities and minority voters in Wisconsin have filed a sweeping federal lawsuit seeking changes to ensure the August primary and November presidential election can be held safely amid the coronavirus pandemic
3:33PM ( 10 hours ago )
GOP chair: 'We will not be holding a virtual convention'
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel tells reporters “we will not be holding a virtual convention.”
2:26PM ( 11 hours ago )
2020 Watch: Battleground map taking shape for Biden, Trump
As states are relaxing shutdown and stay-at-home orders during the COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump is traveling more
8:05AM ( 17 hours ago )
AP Elections
Biden, Dems aim to expand campaign map with fundraising deal
Joe Biden and the Democratic National Committee have expanded their fundraising agreement to include 26 state parties
8:33AM ( 2 days ago )
Biden campaign steps up hires despite money gap with Trump
Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden will hire by June at least 600 field staffers dedicated to an “expanded map” of battleground states
2:33PM ( 3 days ago )
Trump eyes older voters in Florida for any sign of faltering
President Donald Trump’s path to reelection runs through places like Sun City Center in Florida that’s now home to a booming retirement community, but some residents are growing restless
6:38AM ( 3 days ago )
General Election News
The Latest: Dems power $3 trillion bill through House
Democrats have powered a massive $3 trillion coronavirus response bill through the House and over Republican opposition
10:15PM ( 3 days ago )
Democrats push $3T coronavirus relief bill toward House OK
House Democrats are powering a massive $3 trillion coronavirus response bill toward passage, a measure designed to prop up a U.S. economy in free fall and a health care system overwhelmed by a pandemic that’s killed over 86,000 Americans
7:52PM ( 3 days ago )
Warsaw mayor is opposition candidate for Poland's president
The main opposition party has named Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski on Friday as its new candidate in Poland's trouble-ridden presidential election
11:40AM ( 3 days ago )
General Presidential Election News
Trump gets ally as ex-Navy pilot wins California House seat
Former Navy combat pilot Mike Garcia won an improbable victory for an open U.S. House seat _ running as a Trump Republican in a district on the fringe of heavily Democratic Los Angeles
1:00AM ( 5 days ago )
California GOP dream: Party poised to win US House seat
A former Navy combat pilot has a double-digit lead in the fight for an open U.S. House seat north of Los Angeles, positioning Republicans to capture a Democratic-held congressional district in California for the first time in over two decades
12:19PM ( 5 days ago )
Republicans on cusp of retaking California US House seat
Republicans may be close to ending a 22-year drought in California and reclaiming a U.S. House seat from the Democrats
4:21AM ( 5 days ago )
General House Election News
Asia Today: Hong Kong testing more airport, care home staff
Hong Kong’s leader Carrie Lam says the territory is ramping up testing, especially for airport workers and caregivers at homes for the elderly and disabled
1:02AM ( 32 minutes ago )
2017 video shows Georgia officer tried to tase Ahmaud Arbery
A video released Monday shows police in Georgia attempting to search Ahmaud Arbery’s parked car in 2017 and when he refuses and attempts to walk back to the vehicle an officer tried to tase him
12:24AM ( 1 hour ago )
Despite risks, Trump says he's taking hydroxychloroquine
President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Democratic leaders after saying he has been taking the malaria drug he has touted as a treatment for the coronavirus
12:10AM ( 1 hour ago )
Trump points to good news as restaurant owners tell of fears
Restaurant owners have given President Donald Trump a dire accounting of the widespread damage the coronavirus pandemic has dealt their industry and have asked him to tweak a loan program for small businesses to address their concerns
12:09AM ( 1 hour ago )
Asian stocks up on hopes for vaccine and economies reopening
Asian shares are rallying on optimism about a potential vaccine for the coronavirus after hopes for a U.S. economic recovery in the second half of the year sent Wall Street on a rebound
12:09AM ( 1 hour ago )