Here are the 2022 California congressional races to watch

Former Democratic Attorney Will Rollins, left, and Republican Rep. Ken Calvert.

Former Democratic Attorney Will Rollins, 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 praise the Corona native’s continued presence and accessibility in the district, as well as his work to secure funding for regional priorities, including transportation and flood control projects, infrastructure improvements, and the region’s military installations. He was also the author of the legislation that created the E-Verify system, which allows employers to verify 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 admitted to the incident. The following year, during Calvert’s re-election campaign, one of his allies outed his Democratic rival as gay, and Calvert’s campaign sent voters pink and purple mailings implying that 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 opposed the repeal of the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding gay military personnel. He points out that his views were held by most politicians at the time. This year he voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 1996 law, and he says the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage should stand.

Calvert has said he does not support a national ban on abortion and that the matter should be left to states. He has said that he believes women should have the right to an abortion in cases of rape, incest or when the woman’s health is compromised 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 Arizona and Pennsylvania electoral college votes, but he has acknowledged that Biden legitimately won the election. Calvert, who was supported by Trump, voted against impeachment for inciting the January 6 riot.

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 witnessing the World Trade Center collapse on September 11, 2001 when he was a student at South Bay High School. He wanted to join the military after the terrorist attacks, but at the time he was living in secret as a gay man, he said, and feared being outed.

Rollins became an attorney and worked for the Department of Justice’s National Security Division, where he focused on counterintelligence and domestic terrorism cases in Southern California. His portfolio included the pursuit of 6 January insurgents.

He’s among the few Democratic congressional candidates to put the Capitol siege at the center of their campaigns, and says the rebellion and Calvert’s votes to turn down electoral votes for two states that supported Biden were among the reasons he pushed himself last year decided to quit his job and run for office. He also prioritizes combating disinformation and polarization; protection of reproductive, voting and LGBTQ rights; and working to address climate change and create green energy jobs in Riverside County. He called the Supreme Court’s repeal of federal abortion protections “terrible” and supports codification of reproductive rights.

The Calvert campaign aims to portray Rollins as a carpet digger, noting that he first voted in Riverside County in June. Rollins was raised in Manhattan Beach and was a Los Angeles County voter from 2003 to 2021. He moved to Palm Springs this year from Canyon Lake, also in the district.

Rollins had one financial downfall in recent 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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