Democrats target 5 California GOP-held congressional seats

Democrats are defending themselves across the country in this year’s midterm elections, but seem to think some of their best chances of flipping GOP congressional districts lie in California.

Five out of six candidates accepted into their Red to Blue program Monday are in this condition, according to an announcement by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

“The Democratic Party is stronger because of candidates like these who have joined the fight to represent their community,” committee chairman Sean Patrick Maloney said in a statement. “Unlike their extreme Republican opponents, these candidates will fight for their district, defend reproductive freedom, fight for lower prices on food, gas and prescription drugs, and seek sane solutions to combat the gun violence that terrorizes communities .”

Candidates must demonstrate viability by meeting fundraising goals and conducting solid campaigns and field operations to qualify for the committee’s Red to Blue program, which provides fundraising, organization, and other support.

Many of the California Democrats in the program are running in districts that have become more favorable in redrawing of post-Census congressional maps. The district elections, conducted by an independent body in California, take place every decade and were particularly tense last year as the state lost a congressional seat for the first time in its history.

Among those added Monday, two are competing for open seats: Dr. Kermit Jones takes on GOP Rep. Kevin Kiley in a sprawling district that spans much of Eastern California; Rep. Adam Gray is vying with Republican nursery owner John Duarte in the Central Valley.

Also added to the Red-to-Blue program were former Rep. Christy Smith, who challenges GOP Rep. Mike Garcia in northern Los Angeles County; dr Asif Mahmood, who is rivaling Republican Rep. Young Kim in a central Orange County district; and former US Attorney Will Rollins, who is hoping to defeat Rep. Ken Calvert — the longest-serving GOP member of California’s congressional delegation — in Riverside County.

The sixth candidate added by the committee is Illinois meteorologist Eric Sorensen, who competes with Republican attorney Esther Joy King.

Prior to Monday’s announcement, the only Californians on the list were Navy Reserve intelligence officer Jay Chen, who is trying to take down GOP Rep. Michelle Steel in an Orange County district, and Rep. Rudy Salas, who is running against the Republican rep David enters Valadao in the Central Valley.

Republicans have a similar program for promising candidates who meet fundraising and organizational benchmarks. Californians Kiley and Duarte are part of the “Young Guns” program, as is San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti, who faces Rep. Josh Harder in the Central Valley; former Orange County GOP Chairperson Scott Baugh, who rivals Orange County Rep. Katie Porter; and former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott challenging Rep. Mike Levin in a district spanning Orange and San Diego counties.

Democrats face headwinds ahead of the November election, with a historic trend of a president’s party losing ground in the first half compounded by President Biden’s low approval ratings and economic challenges such as inflation and high gas prices. But the party hopes that recent Supreme Court rulings, particularly the lifting of federal protections on access to abortion, could help motivate voters, particularly suburban women in places like Orange County.

However, some of the candidates Democrats want to highlight are behind on funding, according to disclosures filed Friday.

Smith is seen as one of the party’s best chances of turning a district around — she lost her 2020 race with Garcia by 333 votes, and after the congressional maps have been redrawn every decade, her district has become more Democratic. But she ended June with $306,000 in the bank compared to Garcia’s $1.7 million, according to fundraising disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

Democrats are excited about Rollins’ prospects against Calvert, especially as the district has become more liberal with the addition of cities like Palm Springs. But Calvert had nearly $1.4 million in his campaign treasury at the end of June, compared to Rollins’ $479,000.

Gray had a little more than Duarte with $402,000 in cash.

In two districts that Republicans prefer, Democrats reported substantial funds as they prepare to fall. Jones had more than $595,000 in the bank at the end of June, more than three times what Kiley had. And Mahmood had just over $1.2 million, a little shy of Kim, who had to spend millions of dollars repelling a key challenger from her right flank. Democrats target 5 California GOP-held congressional seats

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