If California Democrats have any chance of winning back the majority in the House of Representatives, they’ll have to make huge gains in the state.
California is undoubtedly a blue state, but it also has one of the largest GOP delegations in Congress, with 14 Republicans in the House. This year, Democrats are ambitiously aiming to flip 10 of those seats to blue. But it won’t be easy.
California has a “top two” primary system, meaning Republicans and Democrats run together in the primary and the first- and second-place candidates get to duke it out in the general. In other words, there’s always the possibility that one party could get shut out of the general election altogether.
Here are the nine districts to keep an eye on.
California’s Fourth District: Democrats are trying to target California’s most conservative Congress member
Who is the Republican? Rep. Tom McClintock is the incumbent Republican. He’s the most conservative Congress member in California and is serving his fifth term. He’s almost guaranteed the top spot in the top-two primary system.
Who are the Democrats? Two women, both in their 30s, stand out from the pack of four Democratic candidates. Jessica Morse, 35, a national security strategist, whose résumé includes the State Department, Defense Department, and USAID, has gained the Democratic Party endorsement, as well as the support of many progressive groups. She’s outraised her Democratic competitors and even Republican incumbent Rep. Tom McClintock and is the Democratic favorite. But Regina Bateson, a Roseville native and MIT professor on leave, has mounted a formidable challenge.
Here’s the kicker: Bateson said she’d drop out of the race if the party endorsed someone else — then didn’t. The other two candidates in the race are Roza Calderon, a 32-year-old geographic information systems consultant who has some grassroots support; and Robert Lawton, an investment adviser and rancher based in Yosemite, have raised significantly less.
What’s the story? This district is rated Likely Republican by the Cook Political Report, but Democrats still think it’s in play. McClintock represents a district encompassing Roseville, Lake Tahoe, and down to Yosemite National Park — but he doesn’t live there. This won’t be an easy race for Democrats. It’s an R+10 district. McClintock won reelection in 2016 by 25 points, and Donald Trump took the district by 16 points.