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California's fall election could sway power in Congress. Here are House races to watch

LA Times logo LA Times 9/21/2022 Seema Mehta, Priscella Vega

Democrats are on defense as Republicans try to wrest control of the House in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. California, despite its deep-blue tilt, offers chances for both parties to flip seats.

Going into this election year, California was home to two of the nation’s most vulnerable GOP incumbents; redistricting made their districts even less favorable. Two popular Democrats were drawn into extremely tight districts, making them vulnerable if a red wave materializes.

Depending on how close the battle for the House becomes, the outcomes of those hotly contested races could determine control of Congress; at a minimum, they will influence the margin of power. Both parties are pouring tens of millions of dollars, staff and other resources into winning these contests.

Nationwide, Republicans need to pick up a net of just five seats to flip control of the House.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades, rates three California races as toss-ups and highlights seven others that are expected to draw significant money and attention. This article uses the Cook ratings. Already, some $74 million has been booked for fall TV and radio advertising in those 10 races.

The party that holds the White House typically loses seats in midterm elections. Until recently, analysts predicted the Democrats would face even bigger losses than normal because of President Biden's low approval ratings, economic uncertainty and global challenges such as Russia's war on Ukraine.

But the picture looks different now, largely because of the Supreme Court ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the nation. That decision has changed the calculus and shows signs of galvanizing young and minority voters who tend to support Democrats but typically don't vote in large numbers in nonpresidential elections. It could also sway college-educated suburban women, whose votes have been critical in recent campaigns, including in key Orange County swing districts.

Republicans in tight races are keeping relatively quiet about abortion issues, but Democrats are trying to keep them at the front of voters' minds and are expected to spend heavily in the fall to do so. A ballot measure to amend the California Constitution to further enshrine abortion rights is also likely to keep voters in the state focused on the issue, as could some Republicans' promises to push a federal ban.

Republicans are also having a difficult time keeping voters focused on Biden when former President Trump continues to make news with the court fights over the FBI search at his Florida resort and residence, which led to the seizure of numerous classified documents. In addition, the hearings of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol are scheduled to resume in the weeks leading up to the election.

This election takes place after the once-every-decade redrawing of congressional district lines following the U.S. census — by an independent commission, in California's case. Despite losing a seat for the first time in its history because its population didn't grow as fast as other states', California's 52-member delegation will still be the nation's largest.

Many of the districts have been renumbered after the redrawing of maps. The party registration and demographic data in this story are for the new districts. Here are the top races to watch:

Congressional District 27

Rating: Toss-up

This northern Los Angeles County district is viewed as one of Democrats’ best pickup opportunities in the nation. It includes Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and a sliver of the city of Los Angeles as well as more rural parts of the Antelope Valley and high desert. Once solidly Republican, the district has grown more favorable to Democrats with its population becoming younger and more diverse as L.A. residents moved in seeking affordable housing. Redistricting made it even bluer by excising the conservative Simi Valley.

map of California's 27th congressional district © Provided by LA Times map of California's 27th congressional district

Democrats have an advantage of 12 percentage points among registered voters in the district, 41.5% to 29.5% for the Republicans. Voters who do not have a party preference make up 21.8%.

White residents make up 45% of the eligible voting-age population, while Latino residents account for 33%, Black residents 11% and Asian Americans residents 10%. The district includes a large number of veterans and is a hub for the aerospace and defense industries.

The GOP represented much of the area in Congress for more than a quarter-century until 2018, when voters elected Democrat Katie Hill. She resigned in late 2019 after nude pictures of her were published without her consent amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with subordinates.

The candidates

Former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith and Republican Rep. Mike Garcia. (Associated Press) © (Associated Press) Former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith and Republican Rep. Mike Garcia. (Associated Press)

Mike Garcia, 46, Republican incumbent

Garcia, whose parents emigrated from Mexico, was born in the San Fernando Valley and raised in Santa Clarita. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and getting a master's degree from Georgetown University, Garcia became a Navy fighter pilot and flew more than 30 combat missions in Iraq. After his military career, he worked as an executive at the Raytheon Co. for more than a decade.

He easily won a special election to replace Hill, but prevailed in the 2020 general election by just 333 votes. In both contests he defeated Democratic former Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who is running against him again in the November election.

Garcia has touted his support for veterans. He has urged the repeal of a Trump-era tax measure that disproportionately hurts Californians and residents of other high-tax states. He wrote legislation that recently passed the House that would help military spouses maintain professional licenses when they move.

Garcia's congressional record is notably conservative. He is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which would essentially ban abortion and some forms of birth control, and he signed onto a brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which it did in June.

He was one of seven California members of Congress who voted to overturn 2020 presidential election results. After a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, paused proceedings in the certification of Biden's win, Garcia voted against certifying Pennsylvania and Arizona’s electoral votes. He opposed the impeachment of Trump over his role in the insurrection, as well as the formation of a House committee to investigate the Capitol attack.

Christy Smith, 53, Democrat

Smith, whose father served in the Army, was born at a military hospital in Germany. Her parents moved back to the United States when she was an infant, and the family eventually settled in the Santa Clarita Valley.

After graduating from UCLA, Smith worked as a policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration. She later served as a Newhall School District board member before being elected to the state Assembly in 2018.

The Democrat promotes successful bills she wrote while she was in the Legislature, including measures on college affordability, access to mental health care, education reform and compensation for victims of human trafficking. Smith, whose two pregnancies were high risk, has been an outspoken supporter of abortion rights and expanding access to healthcare.

Smith overwhelmingly beat fellow Democrat John Quaye Quartey in the top-two June primary, but only after she spent a significant sum of money. As of June 30, she had $306,000 in her campaign coffers, compared with Garcia’s nearly $1.7 million cash on hand, according to the most recent fundraising disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

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Congressional District 13

13th congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 13th congressional district map

Rating: Toss-up

After the redrawing of congressional maps, no incumbent chose to run in this new Central Valley district, which includes all of Merced County and parts of Fresno, Madera, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

In this district that is heavily dependent on agriculture, Latinos make up just over 50% of the population that is eligible to vote, followed by white residents at 37%, Asian American residents at 6% and Black residents at 4%.

Though Democrats have a 14-point voter registration edge — with 42.8% of registered voters to Republicans' 28.4% and 21.6% claiming no party preference — low voter turnout among Democrats and Latinos as well as the independent nature of politics in the Central Valley have made races tighter here.

The district is home to the newest University of California campus, UC Merced. Water, healthcare, jobs and public safety are key issues here.

The candidates

Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray, left, and Republican businessman John Duarte. (Associated Press) © (Associated Press) Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray, left, and Republican businessman John Duarte. (Associated Press)

Adam Gray, 45, Democrat

Born and raised in Merced, Gray attended community college, working at his family's dairy supply store to pay the way, then earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara. He started his career in politics by working as a staffer for lawmakers, and has lectured on the state Legislature at UC Merced.

In 2012, he was elected to the state Assembly, where he represents much of the northern half of the new congressional district. He has challenged the state water board, including plans to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and send it to Southern California in what he calls the "state water grab." Gray called this year for an audit of California’s water agencies.

He has also advocated for the creation of a medical school at UC Merced to train and help increase the number of healthcare workers in the valley. Gray points to his work as a founding member of the bipartisan California Problem Solvers Foundation in the Assembly and says he can continue to reach across the aisle in Congress. Gray says he supports abortion rights and voted in favor of putting a constitutional amendment before voters to further codify the state’s already progressive reproductive rights.

Gray's campaign, which is anchored in water rights, improving education and bolstering public safety, has raised $952,000, according to the most recent fundraising disclosures filed with the FEC. His campaign had about $402,000 cash on hand as of June 30.

John Duarte, 56, Republican

Duarte, a fourth-generation farmer from Modesto, grows almonds, pistachios and grapes through his family's Duarte Nursery, one of the biggest agricultural nurseries in the country.

The Republican got the attention of conservatives when he fought the federal government over accusations — by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and later the Environmental Protection Agency — that he violated the Clean Water Act by damaging wetlands to plant wheat in Northern California. After a years-long battle, a judge ruled that Duarte had broken the law. Facing potentially massive fines, Duarte settled and paid $1.1 million.

Duarte is leaning into his family's history and knowledge of the San Joaquin Valley to promote his campaign. In addition to protecting the valley's water, he says he wants to help lower the cost of living in the area. Duarte has not said where he stands on the abortion debate on his campaign website or social media accounts. His campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Duarte has raised $1.28 million — including a $240,000 donation and a $200,000 loan of his own funds — and had about $373,000 cash on hand as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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Congressional District 22

22nd congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 22nd congressional district map

Rating: Toss-up

This San Joaquin Valley district, which includes portions of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties, is considered one of the nation’s most competitive. Democrats see it as a prime chance to defeat a Republican incumbent after redistricting added more blue-leaning voters from Bakersfield and Porterville and created a 17-percentage-point voter registration advantage over the GOP.

Democrats account for 43.3% of registered voters in the district, with Republicans at 26% and 22.9% having no party preference. The heavily agricultural area had already tilted blue in terms of voter registration, but for years sent GOP representatives to Washington, in part because of low turnout among Democrats and the independent nature of Central Valley politics.

In 2018, Democratic challenger TJ Cox ousted Republican Rep. David Valadao, who returned the favor two years later. (Cox was recently indicted and faces allegations that he stole from his own companies and used some of the money for illegal campaign donations.)

Latinos make up the largest citizen voting-age population at 59%, with whites at 29%, Black residents at 6% and Asian Americans at 4%.

Economic issues, broadband access and, of course, water, are among the top concerns here.

The candidates

Democratic state Assemblyman Rudy Salas, left, and Republican Rep. David Valadao. (Associated Press) © (Associated Press) Democratic state Assemblyman Rudy Salas, left, and Republican Rep. David Valadao. (Associated Press)

David Valadao, 45, Republican incumbent

Valadao is one of 10 House Republicans — and the only GOP Californian — who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He and only one other survived their primaries. The importance of his reelection to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy's goal to become speaker, along with Trump's silence in the race, helped shield Valadao from some of the acrimony over the impeachment votes.

The son of Portuguese immigrant parents from the Azores, Valadao was born and raised in Hanford, the Kings County seat. He became a partner in his father’s dairy and farm business and worked with industry groups such as the California Milk Advisory Board and the Western States Dairy Trade Assn. He was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and after one term was elected to Congress, where he served from 2013 to 2019. Cox defeated him in 2018 by 862 votes; two years later, Valadao won a rematch.

Valadao is a co-sponser of the Life at Conception Act, a bill that seeks “equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person" from the moment of "fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.” He signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to end federal protections for abortion. Valadao supports a path to citizenship for undocumented people whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children. He also backed a bill that would federally protect interracial and same-sex marriages.

He has raised about $2.5 million this election cycle and had $1.7 million cash on hand as of June 30, according to the latest FEC filings.

Rudy Salas, 45, Democrat

Salas grew up picking grapes in the Central Valley fields with his father before attending UCLA. After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in political science and history, the Bakersfield native worked at the White House for Vice President Al Gore. He later returned to California as a counselor for Upward Bound and the College Assistance Migrant Program at Cal State Bakersfield, which helps students with farm-working backgrounds transition into college.

In 2010, Salas became the first Latino elected to the Bakersfield City Council. Two years later, he won a seat in the state Assembly, where he voted for a landmark bill that provided farmworkers overtime pay, and he helped secure state funding for new water wells and cultural centers in the valley. He has also served as co-chair of the New Democrats, a group that typically aligns with business interests.

Salas has come under fire from environmentalists for accepting money from the oil industry, and he has received low scores from nonprofit environmental organizations such as the California League of Conservation Voters.

Salas said he believes abortion decisions should be left to women and their doctors. He co-sponsored Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment on the ballot Nov. 8, which would explicitly protect the right to an abortion in California.

Salas has raised nearly $990,000 this election cycle and had just over $690,000 on hand as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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Congressional District 41

41st congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 41st congressional district map

Rating: Lean Republican

This longtime Republican Riverside County district is now competitive — and evenly split between GOP and Democratic voters.

The area has grown less conservative in recent decades, in part because of an influx of young and minority families seeking affordable housing. Redistricting, which added Democratic and LGBTQ voters, accelerated the trend. Democrats make up 36.5% of the district's voters to Republicans' 36.4%; no-party-preference voters account for 19.7%.

Though the district retained more than two-thirds of its former constituents, it now covers a swath of the Coachella Valley, including one of the largest concentrations of LGBTQ voters in the United States. Palm Springs, as well as Palm Desert, La Quinta and Rancho Mirage, were drawn into the district. It retained cities such as Menifee, Lake Elsinore and Norco; solidly GOP areas, such as Temecula and Murrieta, were excised.

White residents make up 56% of the citizens of voting age, Latinos 30%, Asian Americans 7% and Black residents 6%.

The candidates

Will Rollins, Democratic former federal prosecutor, left, and Republican Rep. Ken Calvert. (Associated Press) © (Associated Press) Will Rollins, Democratic former federal prosecutor, left, and Republican Rep. Ken Calvert. (Associated Press)

Ken Calvert, 69, Republican incumbent

Calvert, the longest-serving GOP member of California’s congressional delegation, was first elected to represent the Inland Empire in Congress in 1992.

Supporters laud the Corona native's ongoing presence and accessibility in the district as well as his work to secure funding for regional priorities, including transportation and flood-control projects, infrastructure upgrades and the area’s military facilities. He was also the author of legislation that created the E-Verify system, which employers can use to check the immigration status of new hires.

His tenure is not without controversy. In 1993, police caught Calvert with a prostitute in his car; he was not charged and later acknowledged the incident. The following year during Calvert’s reelection campaign, one of his allies outed his Democratic rival as gay, and Calvert’s campaign sent voters pink and purple mailers implying his opponent's sexuality disqualified him from representing the region.

Calvert voted for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, and against the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gay service members. He points out that his views were held by most politicians at the time. This year, he voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 1996 act, and he says the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage should stand.

Calvert has said he doesn't support a national ban on abortion, and that the matter should be left to the states. He has said he believes women should have the right to abortion in cases of rape, incest or if the woman's health is jeopardized by the pregnancy, and that he opposes third-trimester abortions.

In the hours after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, Calvert voted against certifying the electoral college votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania, but he has acknowledged that Biden legitimately won the election. Calvert, who has been endorsed by Trump, voted against impeaching him for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Calvert has raised nearly $2.4 million this election cycle, and had $1.4 million in the bank as of June 30, according to filings with the FEC.

Will Rollins, 37, Democrat

Rollins says he became interested in public service after seeing the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was a high school junior in the South Bay. He wanted to join the military after the terrorist attacks, but at the time he was living as a closeted gay man, he said, and feared being outed.

Rollins became an attorney and went to work for the national security division at the Justice Department, focusing on counterintelligence and domestic terrorism cases in Southern California. His portfolio included the prosecution of Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

He is among the few Democratic congressional candidates making the Capitol siege central in their campaigns, saying that the insurrection and Calvert's votes to throw out electoral votes for two states that backed Biden are among the reasons he decided to leave his job last year and run. He also prioritizes fighting disinformation and polarization; protecting reproductive, voting and LGBTQ rights; and working to address climate change and bring green energy jobs to Riverside County. He called the Supreme Court's stripping of federal protection for abortion "horrifying" and supports codifying reproductive rights.

The Calvert campaign aims to portray Rollins as a carpetbagger, noting that he first voted in Riverside County in June. Rollins grew up in Manhattan Beach and was registered to vote in Los Angeles County from 2003 to 2021. He moved to Palm Springs this year from Canyon Lake, which is also in the district.

Rollins had a financial disadvantage in the latest campaign fundraising disclosure reports: He raised nearly $1.5 million and had about $479,000 in the bank as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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Congressional District 45

45th congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 45th congressional district map

Rating: Lean Republican

This competitive district straddling Orange and Los Angeles counties was created to empower Asian American voters. Centered on the Vietnamese community of Little Saigon, the inland district includes the cities of Artesia, Cerritos and Westminster.

Asian Americans represent 37% of the district’s potential voters, white residents account for 36%, Latinos 23% and Black residents 3%.

Now the district is the focus of an intense competition between a Korean American incumbent and a Taiwanese American rival.

GOP Rep. Michelle Steel opted to run here after her Seal Beach home was drawn into the same district as Democratic Rep. Katie Porter during the decennial redrawing of congressional district lines. (Members of Congress are not required to live in their districts.)

Democrats have a 5-percentage-point edge in voter registration, 37.7% to 32.4%, over Republicans; no-party-preference voters account for 24.7%. Biden won the district by more than 6 percentage points. Still, the June primary results show that Republican candidates are competitive in the district — Steel received 48% of the vote, Democratic rival Jay Chen received 43%, and a little-known Republican received nearly 9%.

The candidates

Michelle Steel, 67, Republican incumbent

Steel was born in Seoul and raised in South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Long active in GOP politics, Steel won a seat on the state Board of Equalization in 2006 and served eight years at the tax agency. She was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2014 and to Congress in 2020. She was one of the first three Korean American women elected to the House.

In Congress, Steel has been a fiscal and social conservative. She voted against a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, signed an amicus brief supporting the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and opposed legislation that would require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage. She is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which as written would ban abortion with no exceptions. Steel has said recently that she supports exceptions to bans in cases of rape, incest or threats to a woman's health.

Steel did not vote on the certification of the 2020 presidential election because she had COVID-19. She voted against impeaching Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

The incumbent has raised $4.8 million and ended June with $2.1 million in the bank, according to FEC filings.

Jay Chen, 44, Democrat

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Chen is a Navy Reserve intelligence officer who served on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Mt. San Antonio Community College and previously served on the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Board of Education for eight years. He has worked as a management consultant and owned a local real estate business.

Chen says his priorities in Congress include making healthcare more affordable, increasing the size of small business loans and improving treatment of veterans. On reproductive rights, he supports codifying federal protection for abortions, saying healthcare decisions should be made "between a woman and her doctor, not by politicians."

He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012 and withdrew from a 2018 congressional race because of Democratic concerns of splitting the vote.

Chen has raised $3 million and had $2.1 million cash on hand as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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Congressional District 9

9th congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 9th congressional district map

Rating: Lean Democratic

This district centered on Stockton has a 15-percentage-point voter registration edge for Democrats, even after losing the heavily Democratic Contra Costa County cities of Brentwood and Oakley in redistricting.

San Joaquin County makes up the majority of the district; agriculture is the top industry, but the area is also home to those commuting into larger tech-heavy cities in the Bay Area.

Democrats make up 43.4% of registered voters here, compared with 28.5% Republicans and 20.6% claiming no party preference.

The district's citizen voting-age population is mostly white at 43%, followed by 31% Latino, 15% Asian American and about 9% Black.

The candidates

Josh Harder, 36, Democratic incumbent

With redistricting breaking up his current district, Harder announced his run in the new 13th, then pivoted to the new 9th District after the incumbent Democrat in that district announced he would not seek reelection.

Harder moved to the city of Tracy earlier this year, which is within the boundaries of the new district, and he points to his family's history in Manteca, where his great-great-grandfather settled and started a peach farm.

The congressman, who was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley, graduated from Stanford and Harvard Business School and worked as an executive of a Silicon Valley venture capital firm before returning in 2017 to run for Congress. In 2018, he unseated Republican Jeff Denham, who had represented the area for years.

Harder has worked on local issues such as water access and storage, as well as healthcare. He once waded through wetlands in Los Banos with California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials to learn how nutria, a swamp rat, was damaging the Central Valley's levees and ecosystem. He's also focused on lowering the cost of prescription drugs for families and bringing agricultural technology and IT jobs to the valley. He supports abortion rights and recently voted in favor of the Women's Health Protection Act and Ensuring Access to Abortion Act.

He has raised $5.4 million this election cycle and had $7.2 million cash on hand as of June 30, with some money carrying over from previous years, according to FEC filings.

Tom Patti, 58, Republican

Patti serves on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and helped launch a housing project for veterans and secured funding for a community college’s apprentice program. Patti owns his family's Delta Crane equipment company.

The Stockton resident has been vocal in his opposition to vaccine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped pass a board resolution prohibiting county offices from requiring people to show vaccine proof to gain entry, and lauded In-N-Out Burger for "fighting against bullies" after Contra Costa County shut a restaurant down for not checking customers' vaccination status.

Patti said in a text message that his personal opinion on abortion is "irrelevant" but that he believes "a woman has a right to choose her own reproductive health choices" and that women and their doctors "sometimes need to make very difficult decisions and I understand and support that.” Patti did not answer if he would vote to codify Roe but said he would not vote for a federal abortion ban. In a phone interview, Patti said that he would follow the "will of the voters" and that he believes limits should be set on late-term abortions.

In 2018, Patti was arrested after a collision on Interstate 5. San Joaquin Superior Court records show he was originally charged with a misdemeanor DUI in the accident in which there were no injuries. The state attorney general's office amended the criminal complaint to a reckless-driving misdemeanor, and Patti, ho said he accidentally took the wrong medication, pleaded no contest. Records show he was sentenced to conditional probation for one year.

A former amateur boxer who trained with Mike Tyson, Patti won state and Golden Gloves championships and considered a pro career in the 1980s. Tyson appeared last year at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Patti.

He has raised $749,000 and had $368,000 cash on hand as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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Congressional District 47

47th congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 47th congressional district map

Rating: Lean Democratic

This affluent Orange County district spans from Seal Beach to part of Laguna Beach and includes the inland cities of Costa Mesa, Irvine — including the UC campus there — and parts of Laguna Hills and the retirement community of Laguna Woods.

Democrats now have a scant 1.4-percentage-point voter registration edge in the district, with 35.5% to the GOP's 34.1%; no-party-preference voters account for 24.7%.

White residents make up 64% of eligible voters, Asian Americans 19%, Latinos 14% and Black residents 2%.

The candidates

Katie Porter, 48, Democratic incumbent

Porter, who is on unpaid leave from her post as a UC Irvine law professor, has drawn national attention among liberals since being elected to Congress in 2018.

Her popularity has been driven by her sharp questioning of corporate CEOs and government leaders during congressional hearings, a whiteboard and marker her ubiquitous props, and her identity as a minivan-driving single mom.

In her reelection bid, Porter touts her efforts to fight special interests and advocate for consumers, homeowners and middle-class families. She opposes oil drilling and supports reproductive rights.

Porter has raised $17.2 million this election cycle, making her the third-largest fundraiser in the House, behind only Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). She had $19.9 million cash on hand as of June 30, according to the FEC. Pundits widely expect Porter to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat once it opens.

Scott Baugh, 60, Republican

Baugh, a Huntington Beach attorney, served in the California Assembly from 1995 to 2000 and was chairman of the Orange County Republican Party from 2004 to 2015.

Among Baugh’s congressional priorities are supporting charter schools, allowing parents to use public funds to send their children to private schools, opposing so-called sanctuary cities and citizenship for people who intentionally violated immigration laws, and reducing government regulations on business. His campaign website says he opposes drilling off California’s coast.

In media interviews, Baugh has said he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.

In 2018, Baugh ran against his onetime mentor, GOP then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, arguing that the longtime congressman was ineffective and highlighting his support of Russia. Baugh came in fourth in the nonpartisan primary, though Rohrabacher ultimately lost his seat.

Though Porter has an enormous financial advantage in the race, Baugh was able to quickly raise $1.8 million because of his close ties with Orange County’s wealthy GOP donor community. He had $1.2 million cash on hand as of June 30.

In 1999, Baugh agreed to pay a civil fine of $47,900 for nine violations of the state Political Reform Act stemming from misconduct allegations in his 1995 election to the Assembly.

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Congressional District 49

49th congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 49th congressional district map

Rating: Lean Democratic

This coastal district straddles Orange and San Diego counties, stretching from Laguna Beach to Del Mar and encompassing Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, where radioactive spent fuel rods are stored because there is no federal repository for nuclear waste.

The environment, tourism and veterans’ needs are prominent issues in the region.

The Democratic voter registration edge is a slim 2.6%. Still, Biden won here in 2020 by more than 11 points. The district did not change dramatically during the 2020 redistricting, retaining 90% of its prior residents. Democrats make up 36.2% of the district's voters, Republicans 33.6% and no-party-preference 23.2%.

Among the district's eligible voters, white residents account for 68%, Latinos 20%, Asian Americans 7% and Black residents 3%.

The election is a rematch of the 2020 election between incumbent Rep. Mike Levin and former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott, who live in the same city and attend the same church.

The candidates

Mike Levin, 43, Democratic incumbent

The environmental attorney, the son of a Mexican American mother and a Jewish father, was born in Inglewood and raised in Lake Forest.

Levin worked in the clean-energy field before being elected in 2018 to the House, where his priorities have included supporting zero-emission vehicles and banning new drilling off the Southern California coast. He has also focused on moving the spent nuclear fuel rods stored at San Onofre out of the area. He called the Supreme Court's overturning of Roe vs. Wade "appalling" and co-sponsored a bill that would codify protections for abortion.

He has raised $3.5 million this election cycle and had $2.9 million in the bank as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

Brian Maryott, 59, Republican

The former San Juan Capistrano mayor lost to Levin in the 2020 congressional race by 6 percentage points, and also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2018. He is a certified financial planner who was a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Advisors.

Among Maryott’s priorities if elected to Congress are increasing competition in the insurance and health provider markets and calling for term limits for elected officials. He opposes new drilling off California's coastline and acknowledges climate change, but says the state and the nation are moving too quickly to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Maryott calls for energy independence, including the use of fracking and "clean coal." After the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, he tweeted that it was "a historic day" and that the "unconstitutional reign of judicially imposed federal law on abortion has ended."

Maryott reported raising $2.4 million through June 30, more than half of which he provided in donations and loans, according to FEC filings. He had $509,000 cash on hand at the end of that month.

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Congressional District 3

3rd congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 3rd congressional district map

Rating: Likely Republican

This mostly rural district covers a huge swath of the state — stretching from the tip of Lassen Volcanic National Park south through Mammoth Lakes to Death Valley, and from the Nevada border to the Eastern Sierra. It also includes some Sacramento suburbs.

Protecting undeveloped land and natural landmarks is crucial to voters, and tourism is vital to the area. Wildfires have devastated parts of the district and impacted tourism and health. The destruction often leaves families seeking assistance with temporary housing and rebuilding costs. In Grizzly Flats, a fire destroyed about two-thirds of the housing stock and the town's water system.

This district strongly leans right. Republicans lead in registered voters with 38.2% to Democrats' 33.2%.; voters with no party preference make up 19.6%.

Republican Rep. Tom McClintock left the seat open when he announced he would run in a neighboring district.

The area's citizen voting-age population is about 80% white; Latinos make up 10%, Asian Americans 6% and Black residents 2%.

The candidates

Dr. Kermit Jones, 46, Democrat

Jones grew up on his family's farm in Michigan before he earned law and medical degrees from Duke University. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he joined the Navy as a flight surgeon for a Marine helicopter squadron in Iraq. Afterward, he got a master's degree in public administration and served for a year as a White House fellow in the Obama administration, working with the secretary of Health and Human Services on improving care for veterans.

Jones, who moved to California in 2017, lives in Woodland with his family, but rents a home in Roseville, where he plans to live full-time if he is elected.

One of Jones' top issues is reforming the healthcare system. His family struggled financially when his mother was denied specialized treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer, and the cost for her care eventually led them to sell the farm, according to his campaign's website. He also sees a need to improve broadband infrastructure in his district, specifically within the Sierra Nevada area. He said he plans to work with Republican colleagues to create a federal fire insurance plan for every eligible household in the country.

Jones said that he supports federal protection for abortion access and that bans on the procedure go against "American principles of self-determination."

He has raised $1.7 million and had about $595,000 cash on hand as of June 30, according to the most recent fundraising disclosures filed with the FEC.

Kevin Kiley, 37, Republican

Raised by a physician and a special education teacher in the Sacramento suburbs, Kiley taught English at an L.A. high school through the Teach for America program after graduating from Harvard. He later attended Yale Law School and returned to California to work at a law firm where he helped prepare an intellectual property theft case for T-Mobile against Huawei, a Chinese technology company. He left private practice to serve as a state deputy attorney general.

The Rocklin resident was elected to the California Assembly in 2016. Last year, he ran as a candidate in the failed election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom and placed sixth in the crowded field. Early in the pandemic, Kiley voted to allow Newsom to spend up to $1 billion on the response. But he later sued the governor, saying Newsom had overstepped his authority when he used an executive order under the Emergency Services Act to expand mail voting. The courts upheld Newsom's emergency powers.

Campaign ads mention Kiley aiming to "secure the border" and opposing COVID-19 mandates. He has refused to acknowledge that Biden won the 2020 election. He won Trump's endorsement before the June primary. The assemblyman voted against placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot to explicitly protect abortion rights in California and has voted against other abortion rights-related measures. He was endorsed by the antiabortion California ProLife Council, a state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee.

Kiley has raised $1.7 million this election cycle and had $162,000 cash on hand as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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Congressional District 40

40th congressional district map © Provided by LA Times 40th congressional district map

Rating: Likely Republican

This affluent suburban Republican district is largely based in Orange County but has fingers into Corona in Riverside County and Chino Hills in San Bernardino County. It also includes Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Tustin and Villa Park.

Republicans have a nearly 5-point voter registration advantage in the district, though Biden won it by 1.6 percentage points. About 38.2% of the district's voters are Republicans, 33.3% are Democrats and 22.9% have no party preference.

More than 6 of 10 residents who are citizens of voting-age population are white. Latinos account for 19%, people of Asian descent 17% and Black residents 2%.

Though Republican Rep. Young Kim, who lives just outside the district's boundaries in La Habra, is running as the incumbent, this district was among the most changed in the redrawing of maps; she has not represented four-fifths of the voters who live here. Members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent.

The candidates

Young Kim, 59, Republican incumbent

Kim, who was born in South Korea, was one of the first three Korean American women elected to Congress in 2020. She previously served in the state Assembly for two years and unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018. The USC graduate worked for more than two decades for then-Rep. Ed Royce, a longtime member of Congress from Orange County.

The voters in Kim's new district are more conservative and less diverse than her current constituents. Her message — once focused on her bipartisan appeal — has shifted to the right, notably on immigration. Before the June primary, Kim's ads told voters to “Vote Conservative. Vote Kim.” Her campaign's texts touted her support for securing the border, including “Keeping Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.”

Kim handily won a spot on the November ballot after she and national GOP groups spent millions in the primary against a little-known Republican whose effort was propped up by Democrats who viewed him as an easier target in November. Though Kim had raised nearly $6.3 million for her reelection bid as of June 30, she ended that month with about $1.4 million in the bank, according to FEC filings.

Kim, who says abortion matters should be "largely left to the states," has an A rating from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a politically powerful antiabortion group. Kim broke with the majority of GOP members of Congress by voting to certify the 2020 electoral votes from Pennsylvania; she missed the vote on Arizona because she was waiting for the results of a COVID test. Kim had said in a statement before Congress convened that she would not support an effort to challenge Biden’s victory in the presidential race: “The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to overturn elections.” She voted against impeaching Trump for his role in the insurrection.

Dr. Asif Mahmood, 61, Democrat

Mahmood was raised in rural Pakistan and became the first student from his village to attend medical school. After receiving his degree in 1987, Mahmood completed his residency at the University of Kentucky and moved to Southern California in 1999. He has said his life has been guided by a principle that his parents taught him — that helping others is the highest calling. He says he has exemplified this tenet by not asking for payment from patients who don't have insurance.

The pulmonologist unsuccessfully ran for state insurance commissioner in 2018. If elected to Congress, Mahmood says his priorities would include reducing inflation and the cost of living, creating jobs and improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Mahmood says overhauling the nation's healthcare system is crucial. He said he would focus on strengthening the Affordable Care Act, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 50. He supports codifying Roe vs. Wade as federal law and says he wants to expand reproductive healthcare.

Mahmood has raised more than $2.2 million and had $1.2 million cash on hand as of June 30, according to FEC filings.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.


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