Saturday January 28th, 2023 5:18PM

Tight California races may determine US House control

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A string of too-early-to-call California U.S. House races remains in play and might end up determining whether Republicans seize control or Democrats hang on to power.

With millions of votes still uncounted Wednesday across the nation’s most populous state, uncertainty remained for about a dozen of the state's 52 House contests. The most competitive of those races were in the Los Angeles region and the Central Valley farm belt.

In Southern California, Democratic Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin were locked in close races, despite President Joe Biden's late-hour campaign swing on their behalf. East of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Ken Calvert was trailing Democrat Will Rollins by 12 points, but less than one-third of the anticipated votes had been tallied.

In the Central Valley, GOP Rep. David Valadao, who voted to impeach then-President Donald Trump, had 54% of the votes counted so far in his race against Democrat Rudy Salas, but most ballots had yet to be tabulated. Four years ago, Valadao lost a reelection bid after seeing a sizable lead on election Day evaporate as late-arriving mail-in ballots were counted. He won back the seat in 2020.

Should Democrats defeat Calvert and prevail in other contests where they were leading or only slightly behind, the year would have echoes of 2018, when the party seized seven Republican-held California seats on the way to retaking the House.

But if Calvert hangs on and Republicans oust Porter and Levin and win an open seat in Central California, the scenario would look similar to 2020, when GOP House candidates flipped four seats in a state where registered Democrats outnumber Republicans by nearly 2-to-1.

With votes still being counted in key races “we don’t know whether California is a political bellwether or an island,” said Thad Kousser, a political science professor at the University of California, San Diego.

If Democrats can hold the Porter and Levin seats and oust Calvert “this red ripple that went across the country becomes a blue counter-ripple,” he added.

More broadly, California hewed largely to its liberal leanings on Election Day. Gov. Gavin Newsom and U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, both Democrats, were easily reelected, voters overwhelmingly endorsed enshrining abortion rights in the state constitution and the Legislature remained firmly in Democratic hands.

Democrats also appeared in position to retain their grip on all statewide offices. A Republican hasn't won one of those races in California since 2006 when Arnold Schwarzenegger was re-elected governor.

The potential for slight shifts mirrored the national political landscape, in which predictions for a Republican “wave” sweeping Congress into solid GOP control failed to materialize. Republicans were closing in on a slim House majority while Senate control will be decided by close races in Arizona, Nevada and Georgia.

A loss by Porter would be stunning, after she spent more than $24 million to win a third term. She is a star of the party's progressive wing, a prolific fundraiser with a national following and is frequently mentioned as a future U.S. Senate candidate.

With about half the vote counted, she was virtually tied with Republican Scott Baugh, who had relentlessly criticized her over soaring gas and grocery prices in a closely divided coastal district with a conservative streak. Porter focused strongly on protecting reproductive rights, after the Supreme Court overturned the Roe v. Wade decision.

Calvert — the longest serving Republican in the California congressional delegation — was first elected in 1992.

His support from Trump posed a challenge in a new, reshaped district about equally split between Democrats and Republicans, which included many transplanted Los Angeles residents and liberal Palm Springs, which has a large concentration of LGBTQ voters.

In a district anchored in San Diego County, Levin was in a tight contest with Republican Brian Maryott, who also targeted pocketbook issues that were the top concern for voters nationally. Biden campaigned for him just days before Election Day.

California Republicans believed as many as five House districts in the state could swing their way — enough to very likely give the GOP the House gavel in a midterm-election year when voters typically punish the party that holds the White House. Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield would be in line to replace Speaker Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco.

Democrats hoped to claw back the four seats they surrendered in 2020 and pad their dominance in the state congressional delegation. Republicans hold only 11 of the state’s 53 seats, which drops to 52 seats next year because California’s once-soaring population growth has stalled.

One of the closest contests was for an open seat, the Central Valley's 13th District, which has a prominent Democratic tilt and a large Latino population. But the most likely voters tend to be white, older, more affluent homeowners, while working-class voters, including many Latinos, are less consistent getting to the polls. Republican John Duarte and Democrat Adam Gray were nearly tied.

In a Democratic-leaning district north of Los Angeles, Republican Rep. Mike Garcia was holding a 15-point edge over Democrat Christy Smith in their third consecutive race. Garcia won the previous two.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Elections, General Election News, General House Election News
© Copyright 2023
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Texas man executed for 2003 strangling death of his mother
Texas has executed an inmate for killing his mother and burying her body in her backyard nearly 20 years ago
8:17PM ( 6 minutes ago )
Tight California races may determine US House control
A string of California U.S. House races remains in play, and the outcome could make the difference in which party controls the chamber next year
8:06PM ( 17 minutes ago )
McCarthy's quest to be speaker collides with GOP failures
With the promise of a red wave receding, Republicans are facing the stark reality that any return to power would mean presiding over a narrowly split Congress
8:02PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Russia claims pullout from occupied city; Ukraine skeptical
Russia’s military says it will withdraw from the only Ukrainian regional capital it’s captured but Ukrainian officials and analysts warn it could be a trap
7:42PM ( 42 minutes ago )
Biden hopes Putin will negotiate WNBA star Griner's release
President Joe Biden says he hopes Russian President Vladimir Putin will be more willing to negotiate the release of WNBA star Brittney Griner now that the U.S. midterm elections are over
7:26PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Trump urged to delay 2024 launch after GOP's uneven election
It was supposed to be a red wave that former President Donald Trump could triumphantly ride to the GOP nomination as he prepares to launch another White House run
7:13PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP National News
McCarthy's command of GOP weakened by election failures
With the promise of a red wave receding, Republicans are facing the stark reality that any return to power would mean presiding over a narrowly split Congress
5:48PM ( 2 hours ago )
Abortion supporters win in conservative, liberal states
Abortion rights supporters won in the four states where access was on the ballot
5:40PM ( 2 hours ago )
Texas woman gets death for killing woman to take unborn baby
A Texas jury has sentenced a woman to death for killing a pregnant woman to take her unborn daughter
5:32PM ( 2 hours ago )
Top U.S. News short headlines
Biden wants to discuss Taiwan, Russia, trade with China's Xi
President Joe Biden says he hopes to use an anticipated meeting with China’s President Xi Jinping to discuss growing tensions between Washington and Beijing over the self-ruled island of Taiwan, trade policies and Beijing’s relationship with Russia
6:59PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP VoteCast: Midterm races a patchwork, not a national vote
If Tuesday’s vote defied the durable history of presidential parties taking heavy losses in a midterm election, it also reinforced an often-forgotten fact: These campaigns are a patchwork of thousands of races, not a nationwide contest
6:36PM ( 1 hour ago )
Defense rests in Capitol riot trial of Oath Keepers leader
Lawyers for Oath Keepers leader Stewart Rhodes have rested their case in his Capitol riot trial
5:53PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Wisconsin’s Johnson beats Barnes; key Senate seat stays GOP
Wisconsin U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson has defeated Democrat Mandela Barnes to keep a seat in Republican hands
1:30PM ( 6 hours ago )
GOP fights to retake House; Senate control too early to call
Republicans are fighting to retake the House while control of the Senate hinges on tight Arizona, Nevada and Georgia races
1:29PM ( 6 hours ago )
Republicans in struggle to break Democrats' hold on Congress
Republicans are pushing state by state to break the Democrats’ one-party hold on Washington as the prospects for a red wave appear to be receding
1:04PM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
Snag delays Arizona ballots; officials say all to be counted
Election officials assured voters that every ballot would be counted after a printing malfunction at about one-quarter of the polling places across Arizona’s most populous county slowed down voting
3:18PM ( 5 hours ago )
Stocks slump sharply on Wall Street; crypto dives again
Wall Street is slumping and giving back a big chunk of the gains built in a rally running up to Election Day
3:03PM ( 5 hours ago )
No cyberattacks affected US vote counting, officials say
There were no digital intrusions known to have affected the counting of the midterm vote
2:58PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Elections
Conspiracists seeking key state election posts falling short
Republicans who backed Donald Trump’s failed efforts to overturn the 2020 election have lost key races to oversee elections in some competitive states
3:25AM ( 16 hours ago )
VoteCast: Inflation top concern, but democracy a worry too
AP VoteCast shows that high inflation was the top consideration for voters in the midterm elections, just as Republicans had hoped
2:56AM ( 17 hours ago )
Voter ID passes in Nebraska as states settle ballot items
Residents of Nebraska have approved a new photo identification requirement for future elections
2:43AM ( 17 hours ago )
General Election News
GOP, Democrats notch victories in competitive midterm races
Control of Congress hangs in the balance, with both parties notching victories in some of the most competitive races in a midterm election that centered on voter frustration over high inflation and the sudden rollback of abortion rights
12:55AM ( 19 hours ago )
Democratic Rep. Sanford Bishop fights to defend Georgia seat
Georgia's senior congressman is facing his toughest reelection battle in more than a decade in the Deep South's only competitive U.S. House race
11:11PM ( 21 hours ago )
Control of Congress, future of Biden agenda in voters’ hands
Control of Congress and the future of President Joe Biden’s agenda are at stake as voters decide races for the House and Senate along with dozens of governorships and key election posts
8:29PM ( 23 hours ago )
General House Election News
Texas man executed for 2003 strangling death of his mother
Texas has executed an inmate for killing his mother and burying her body in her backyard nearly 20 years ago
8:17PM ( 6 minutes ago )
McCarthy's quest to be speaker collides with GOP failures
With the promise of a red wave receding, Republicans are facing the stark reality that any return to power would mean presiding over a narrowly split Congress
8:02PM ( 21 minutes ago )
Díaz, Mets ink $102M, 5-year deal, record for MLB closer
All-Star closer Edwin Díaz and the New York Mets have finalized their $102 million, five-year contract — the largest for a reliever in baseball history
8:01PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Analysis: A stunning draw as Democrats hold their own
Facing tremendous political headwinds, the Democrats fought Republicans to a stunning midterm draw
8:01PM ( 23 minutes ago )
GOP nudges closer to House win; Senate could hinge on runoff
Republicans inched closer to a narrow House majority while control of the Senate hinges on tight Arizona, Nevada and Georgia races
7:58PM ( 26 minutes ago )