Now that Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) is the first California Congress member to opt out rather than a long and controversial campaign for re-election, his 39th Congressional District is gaining a new image of Democrats eager to regain control of the House of Representatives.
Cook's Political Report immediately changed the Orange County district's rating from "Leans Republican" to "Democratic Leans," and Inside Elections changed it from the GOP column to "Tossup."
The 13 The Republican's announcement was a surprise, and party leaders learned of Royce's retirement, as the public did, through social media. Royce was one of the main targets in California, and Democrats liked his chances before it suddenly became an open seat.
Still, the reality on the ground continues to complicate the Democratic victory in this historically Republican district. This is what you need to know about this great battlefield in the 2018 midterms.
Hillary Clinton won here in 2016. Could it be a fluke?
Clinton beat Donald Trump by a margin of 51% to 43% in the Royce district in an election that marked the first time a Democrat won Orange County in 80 years. It is still unclear if that is an indicator of future Democratic victories here or a measure of Trump's impressive unpopularity in California, where only 28% of adults approve of his job performance.
According to an analysis of the California Target Book electoral guide, Clinton is the only Democratic candidate to win in the Royce district in any state competition that goes back six years.
It's not your grandmother's Orange County
Major demographic changes have been under way in Orange County, once a bastion of conservatism, for years. 19659002] When Royce was first elected to Congress in 1992, the district he won was more than 60% white and less than a quarter Latin. Today, Asian Americans and Latinos represent more than 65% of their district, while whites are only 28% of the voters.
Voter registration numbers have followed suit. Since 2012, the participation of Republicans in registered voters has been reduced from 8% to less than 2%. The district has 34.4% registered Democrats and 36.1% Republicans. Voters who decline to the state constitute 24.9% of registered voters.
Engagement efforts in this district will be key, since minority voters have historically not registered to vote or have left at the same pace as white voters, a phenomenon that is often amplified during the midterm exams.
Republican bank in Orange County still strong
Royce's announcement could leave Republicans struggling to endorse a candidate before the deadline of March 9. There is no shortage of conservative candidates here.
The names that have been submitted to replace Royce are Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel, Young Kim, a former Assemblywoman who previously worked for Royce, and Ling Ling Chang, who lost an offer for the state. Senate by a very thin margin in 2016, but won large portions of the Royce district. The three could be Asian American candidates in a district where 29% of the voters and a fifth of the voters are Asian.
Former Orange County Republican President Scott Baugh has already amassed a campaign war chest of more than $ 500,000. a neighboring district in the event that Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher announces his retirement. Baugh did not say on Monday whether he would consider changing careers and looking for Royce's seat. (It is not necessary for members of Congress to live in their districts)
A strong Republican candidate could complicate Democratic efforts.
It would have been easier for Royce's opponents to link him to the difficult positions he has taken on Trump's agenda. , particularly the deferred action program for childhood arrivals and health care. A newcomer from the Republican Party side will not necessarily have an established record to attack, and it may be more difficult for Democrats to link a new Republican candidate to the unpopular president.
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There is potential for Democratic inner struggles in primary
The Royce district is home to one of the busiest primaries of the Congress in California. At least half a dozen Democrats have said they are running, all candidates for the first time. Five have raised more than $ 100,000, including health care executive Andy Thorburn, who has donated more than $ 2 million.
Even with an increase in the energy of the Liberals, the Democrats could be caught in an internal battle to overcome the June 5 elections.
With the two main California primaries, the two candidates with the highest number of votes go to the November general election, regardless of who the party is. If Republican leaders can build momentum behind a single Republican candidate, they could have the opportunity to retain Royce's seat and protect the majority of the party's chamber.
No Republican had filed a lawsuit to challenge Royce before he announced his retirement.
has a lot of money in the bank that he could use to help a Republican
The powerful chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee had amassed an amazing war chest, with more than $ 3.5 million in the bank to September 30, the most recent financial reporting period campaign. That's more than any of the other legislators facing tough careers in November, and more than twice the $ 1.4 million similarly threatened by the Orange County Rep. Mimi Walters had in the bank on September 30.
Royce could distribute that money to GOP Candidates to the house throughout California or transfer it to the national party to help with competitive elections. You could also contribute unlimited funds to a political action committee that opposes the Democrats or supports a Republican in your district, as long as the committee does not coordinate with any candidate.