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Blue State/Red District

The GOP’s Uneasy California Strongholds, Part 2

We continue our series of updated summaries of Capital & Main’s “Blue State/Red District” reports, today focusing on congressional races in the Central Valley and Orange County.

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Congressional District 10

 

Josh Harder

Jeff Denham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Larry Buhl’s Pro-Trump House Votes Could Haunt Heartland Incumbent Jeff Denham

District Terrain: Central Valley.

Facts: As the Valley’s traditional ag mantra of Guns, Jesus and Water gives way to concerns about health care and immigrant rights, the Republican candidate faces an uphill battle to win reelection.

Incumbent: Jeff Denham.

Challenger:  Josh Harder.

Large Financial Backers: Bravo Ag Group, Google, Phillips 66 (Denham). Labor PACs, Democratic Party PACs, American Association for Justice (Harder).

Issues: Health care, immigration, economy/taxes.

Takeaways: In elections past, Jeff Denham has artfully navigated between ingrained rural conservatism and the needs of his low-income constituency. But now Denham finds himself squeezed between Donald Trump’s policies and his district’s increasingly stressed constituents.

Polling: Opinion surveys say the race is too close to call — but Harder is beginning to eclipse the incumbent.

Key Endorsements: California State Sheriffs’ Association, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (Denham). Modesto Bee, Latino Community Roundtable (Stanislaus County), Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence (Harder).

Challenger’s Chances: If Harder maintains his momentum, the first-time candidate could topple Denham.

From Buhl’s story: “Big-box retailers and plentiful Starbucks make sections of Modesto resemble Southern California’s megalopolis. One resident quipped that his city is ‘90 minutes from everywhere you’d rather be.’” 

 

Congressional District 21

 

David Valadao

TJ Cox

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Larry Buhl’s Trump May Blow Reelection Headwind at David Valadao

District Terrain: Central Valley from the outskirts of Bakersfield to the western portion of Fresno County.

Facts: Agriculture is the leading industry in this largely rural district. Nearly three-quarters of the population is Latino, and it is among the poorest districts in the state.

Incumbent: David Valadao.

Challenger: TJ Cox.

Large Financial Backers: Agricultural organizations, Chevron, Koch Industries (Valadao). Labor PACs, Democratic PACs, American Society of Anesthesiologists (Cox).

Issues: Immigration, water policies, economy.

Takeaways: While the district tends to lean left, Valadao’s willingness to break from the Republican Party on immigration issues has earned him wider support among voters.

Polling: Surveys indicate a victory for Valadao remains likely.

Key Endorsements: California Pro-Life Council, National Rifle Association, Peace Officers Research Association of California (Valadao). End Citizens United, 314 Action, American Federation of Teachers (Cox).

Challenger’s Chances: Poor.

From Buhl’s story: “Whether voters hold Valadao accountable for his repeated efforts to repeal Obamacare, and his failure to protect Dreamers, remains to be seen.”

Congressional District 45

 

Mimi Walters

Katie Porter

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read Judith Lewis Mernit’s The Education of Mimi Walters.

District Terrain: Inland Orange County.

Facts: There are signs that Congressional Republicans have generally fallen from favor in Orange County through their votes to substitute the Affordable Care Act with a GOP replacement.

Incumbent: Mimi Walters.

Challenger:  Katie Porter.

Large Financial Backers: Dow Chemical Company, Amazon.com, Blue Shield of California (Walters). Labor PACs, Emily’s List, End Citizens United (Porter).

Issues: Health care, immigration, taxes.

Takeaways: Polls suggest that nearly two-thirds of this traditionally Republican district’s residents disapprove of Donald Trump’s performance. To win, Mimi Walters will have to prevent that dislike from rubbing off on her.

Polling: Late polls show UC Irvine law professor Porter pulling ahead of Walters.

Key Endorsements: U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Orange County Business Council (Walters). The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, Sierra Club, Stonewall Democrats (Porter).

Challenger’s Chances: A first-time candidate’s slight lead could spell the end of Republican dominance here in November.

From Lewis Mernit’s story: “Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in CA-45, a sign that at least some of its conservative voters might be more loyal to ideals of diversity and tolerance than they are to their party.”

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