Kevin Kiley bests Kermit Jones in California rural district

Republican lawmaker Kevin Kiley is on his way to Congress after beating Democrat Kermit Jones in a race for an vacant seat that covered a vast expanse of rural California.

The Associated Press called Tuesday’s race, although official results will be longer.

Kiley was praised in former President Trump’s speech last week as he unveiled his 2024 presidential bid. Trump, who was jubilant as the GOP captured a majority in the House of Representatives, said Kiley overdid his party. At the time, AP hadn’t called the race, but another site that analyzes election results, Decision Desk, had predicted Kiley’s win. The Associated Press and other outlets on Wednesday named the House GOP control, with another California Republican, Santa Clarita Rep. Mike Garcia, the decisive win.

“A fantastic person,” Trump said of Kiley, whom he endorsed in the primary. “I’m very glad it was his voice that did it.”

Kiley’s victory gives the Republicans two more seats than the 218 needed to control the House of Representatives. Only a California convention race is too close — for an open seat in the Central Valley representing Los Banos and Merced.

Kiley, 37, was first elected to the California Convention in 2016 and built his profile as a vocal opponent of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s imposed COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. He ran in the failed 2021 effort to recall the governor but got little traction.

He campaigned to control the Democrats in Washington and hammered the party into power against inflation. Kiley has been widely seen as having the upper hand in California’s 3rd Circuit, where Republicans have a 5 percentage point registration advantage and voters narrowly backed Trump over Joe Biden in 2020.

Jones, 46, a doctor who served as a naval surgeon in Iraq, campaigned as a moderate Democrat. He called Kiley’s anti-abortion position too extreme and accused him of associating with far-right elements in the GOP, which Kiley has denied.

The district stretches nearly 450 miles along California’s eastern border from the southern Cascade Range down to the Mojave Desert. The area is mostly rural, but also includes parts of the Sacramento suburbs where Kiley and Jones live. Kevin Kiley bests Kermit Jones in California rural district

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