The general election for California’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will take place on Nov. 8, 2022. Voters will elect members from 52 congressional districts to represent the Golden State.

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District 3

The district

Roughly the size of West Virginia, this district runs up the rain-shadowed eastern side of the Sierra, from Death Valley to Lassen National Forest, before spilling out of the mountains into the foothills northeast of Sacramento. Those suburbs are where most of the district’s voters live.

Voter registration: 38.1% Republican, 33.3% Democratic, 19.6% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Kevin Kiley 39.7%, Kermit Jones 38.7%

Before the state’s electoral map was redrawn, the foothills from Gold County to Kings Canyon were the domain of longtime Republican Rep. Tom McClintock. But the new map divided McClintock’s former dominion in two. And when he opted to run in the southwestern segment, this seat was left wide open. 

Kiley, a Republican Assemblymember from Rocklin, is a darling of California conservatism and a 37-year-old Ivy League-educated lawyer who ran a long-shot campaign for governor in last year’s recall race. He’s spent much of his legislative career introducing equally long-shot bills designed to irk and embarrass Democrats. That has served him well in this congressional race. In the primary, Kiley easily fended off a Republican Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, helped by Kiley’s frequent appearances on Fox News and his position as one of Gov. Gavin Newsom’s most persistent critics. An endorsement by former President Donald Trump probably helped, too. 

Though the district leans red, it’s not quite as crimson as its prior incarnation. That’s mostly thanks to redistricting. But an influx of Bay Area refugees, driven east both by high home prices on the coast and the pandemic, have also brought their liberal politics with them. Democrat Jones, a Placerville Navy surgeon-turned-internal medicine doctor with a law degree, is hoping his relatively moderate political message, his super-charged resume and his strategy of depicting Kiley as an extremist will give him a fighting chance in a district where Republican voters still predominate.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Kevin Kiley

  • California Republican Party
  • Former Gov. Pete Wilson
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • State Senate GOP Leader Scott Wilk
  • Former President Donald Trump

Kermit Jones

  • Congressional Black Caucus PAC
  • Peace Officers Research Association of California
  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund

District 9

The district

San Joaquin County officials spent much of 2021 lobbying the state redistricting commission to put as much of the county — one of the fastest growing in the state — within a single congressional district. They got their wish. It’s a collage of Sacramento River Delta towns, Bay Area commuter ’burbs and foothill communities — but all roads ultimately lead to Stockton. 

Voter registration: 43.5% Democratic, 28.4% Republican, 20.5% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Josh Harder 36.7%, Tom Patti 29.0%

When Rep. Jerry McNerney joined the throng of House Democrats rushing for the exits this year, two-term Democratic Rep. Harder, whose current seat is centered in Turlock, opted to move north in search of bluer pastures. Though that opens Harder to criticism as a “carpetbagger,” he’s shaken that label before. In his first election in 2018, he ran for Congress in the north San Joaquin Valley after a lengthy stint at a Bay Area venture capital firm. A consistently middle-of-the-party Democratic vote in Congress, Harder has been happy to show off his centrist credentials, his bipartisan inclinations and his understanding of Ag’s water woes. Case in point: On the ballot, Harder describes himself not as a member of Congress, but an “Agriculture Committeeman.”

Though the district leans blue, GOP strategists believe its many long-commuting, working-class voters might be gettable. Patti, a Republican county supervisor and former boxing coach to Mike Tyson, may be best known for earning a shiner while coming to the defense of a stranger in need. Since the beginning of the pandemic, he’s also raised his local political profile by challenging vaccine requirements. But he’s also distanced himself from the divisive politics of former President Donald Trump, stressing that he is “not a Trumpster.” So far Patti sits at a clear disadvantage in such a Democratic-leaning district. He’s also raised a small fraction of Harder’s warchest. But Stockton-area politics can be full of surprises. Remember in 2020 when this ostensibly Democratic city ejected its nationally renowned mayor, Michael Tubbs, in favor of a Republican? No doubt, both Harder and Patti do, too.

Note from H.R.: Patti was also arrested in 2018 for crashing his car while driving under the influence; the supervisor said he mistakenly took the wrong medication.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Josh Harder

  • Rep. Jerry McNerney
  • Peace Officers Research Association of California
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America

Tom Patti

  • Stockton Police Officers’ Association
  • San Joaquin Deputy Sheriffs Association
  • Republican Assemblymember Heath Flora
  • Central Valley Impact Republicans

District 13

The district

This district includes the big “M”s that run down the middle of the Central Valley: Merced, Madera and half of Modesto. A majority of voters are Latino, which gives the district its Democratic disposition. But because mostly-white Republicans tend to turn out in higher numbers, national GOP groups see this as eminently winnable. 

Voter registration: 42.8% Democratic, 28.4% Republican, 21.4% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: John Duarte 34.2%, Adam Gray 31.1%

When Rep. Josh Harder hopped north to run in a more Dem-friendly district, Assemblymember Gray was quick to try to take his place. He quickly amassed endorsements from virtually every major Democratic official in the state, but he hasn’t always enjoyed such unanimous support from within his own party. As one of the Assembly’s most business-aligned moderates, Gray has earned the ire of progressives for killing e-cigarette regulations, advocating for a gas tax suspension and blocking new environmental regulations. Last year, he was stripped of a coveted committee chairmanship in what he said was retaliation by Speaker Anthony Rendon for casting a vote to secure more water for farmers.

Duarte, Gray’s challenger, is one of those farmers. A nut and grape grower with farmland spread across multiple Central Valley counties, Duarte first achieved prominence in conservative circles for engaging in a lengthy legal battle with the federal government over water regulations. He ended up settling, but the experience has allowed him to run as a champion of drought-parched farmers and red tape-burdened business owners.

Don’t let the Democratic advantage among registered voters fool you; this is one of the most fiercely competitive congressional races in the country. Duarte has reason to feel cautiously optimistic. In the June primary, the three Republican candidates in the race won a slim majority of the vote combined. 

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

John Duarte

  • U.S. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy
  • California Association of Winegrape Growers
  • U.S. House Republican Conference leader Elise Stefanik
  • Stanislaus County Farm Bureau

Adam Gray

  • California Democratic Party
  • Peace Officers Research Association of California
  • Blue Dog PAC
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom
  • California Teachers Association

District 22

The district

Starting on the Valley side of the Tehachapis, the district runs east of downtown Bakersfield before spanning northward all the way to Tulare, Hanford and Kettleman City. If the map looks familiar, it’s because it’s almost identical to the state Senate’s 16th District. The demographics are also similar — roughly 60% of the population here is Latino — though this district swings a bit more consistently Democratic.

Voter registration: 43.4% Democratic, 26.0% Republican, 22.6% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Rudy Salas 45.2%, David Valadao 25.6%

Valadao has always been a political outlier. A Republican from a Hanford dairy family, he was first elected in 2012 and has regularly outperformed the blue tint of his district. The secret to his success: A moderate brand of Republicanism, coupled with low turnout among the area’s largest Democratic leaning voting bloc, Latinos. That luck briefly petered out during the “blue wave” election in 2018, when he was unseated by a Democrat. But in 2020, Valadao was reelected. 

There have been two big changes since November 2020. First, when former President Trump was impeached after his rioting supporters breached the U.S. Capitol, Valadao was one of only 10 Republicans to cast a “yea” vote. Though he was the only one of the 10 who didn’t face a Trump-backed primary challenger, many within the GOP still haven’t forgiven him. That makes Valadao a rare thing in national politics: A Republican who voted to impeach Trump and survived his primary. But will his turn against the former president will hurt him in the general by depressing Republican turnout? Or will it help him by endearing himself to independents and moderates?

The second major change: The state’s redistricting commission left the portion of the Valley that includes Hanford even more Democratic-leaning than it was before. A super PAC affiliated with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tried to give the Democratic candidate, Assemblymember Salas, an easier path to victory by indirectly supporting Chris Mathys, another Republican candidate and a proponent of 2020 election conspiracy theories. But Valadao edged Mathys by two percentage points, and now Salas will have to take on the incumbent.

One of the Capitol’s more business-friendly Democrats, Salas has represented Hanford and the I-5 side of Kern County in the Assembly since 2012. Like Valadao, he proudly touts his party-bucking bipartisanship. His claims to fame include being the lone Democrat to vote against a gas tax hike in 2017 and authoring an unsuccessful bill to increase penalties on shoplifters earlier this year.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Rudy Salas

  • California Democratic Party
  • Congressional Hispanic Caucus’s Bold PAC
  • New Democratic Coalition Action Fund
  • Rep. Jim Costa
  • California Correctional Peace Officers Association

David Valadao

  • California Republican Party
  • U.S. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy

District 27

The district

There’s a little bit of San Fernando Valley to the south, a big chunk of Antelope Valley to the north, but the heart of this district is Santa Clarita. This is a historically conservative valley, populated by the “white flight” out of Los Angeles proper in the 1970s and domicile to many a suburb-seeking cop. But few places are as emblematic of the suburban shift away from the Republican Party during the Trump years as this part of northern Los Angeles County.

Voter registration: 41.7% Democratic, 29.2% Republican, 21.6% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Mike Garcia 47.1%, Christy Smith 37.4%

From Republican Steve Knight to Democrat Katie Hill back to Republican Garcia, this district, once a GOP stronghold, has been ping-ponging between the parties since 2016. In 2020, Garcia, the conservative former Navy pilot and Georgetown graduate, held on to the seat by a mere 333 votes, the third closest outcome of any congressional race in the country that year. And that was before redistricting jettisoned the district’s most conservative outpost in Simi Valley, giving Democratic voters even more of an edge.

Challenging Garcia is Democrat Smith. Again. A relatively moderate former member of the Assembly, she ran in the special election to fill this area’s congressional seat after Katie Hill resigned in 2019. She also ran during the regularly scheduled election. She lost both times. While most of the state’s Democratic establishment was quick to rally behind her for another go, some national Democratic groups and members of Congress were slower to get on board, evidently skeptical that her third time would in fact be the charm.
What makes this showdown between the two rivals different is that Garcia is now an elected member of Congress. That affords him the typical advantages of an incumbent, but it also means that the conservative congressman, who hasn’t always softened his positions to match the blue hue of his district, will have to defend his record. While Garcia bucked much of his party by supporting a bill codifying the right to same-sex marriage, he also voted against the certification of the 2020 presidential election, maintains sterling ratings with advocacy groups that oppose abortion rights, and recently compared the Federal Bureau of Investigation to the “Third Reich” after federal agents searched Donald Trump’s Florida residence, Mar-a-Lago.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Mike Garcia

  • California Republican Party
  • Sen. Tim Scott

Christy Smith

  • Attorney General Rob Bonta
  • Equality California

District 41

The district

Sweeping up the cities south of Riverside in a valley-spanning “U,” before bounding over the San Jacinto Mountains and landing in downtown Palm Springs, this district gobbles up some of the fastest growing cities, suburbs and exurbs in California. With so many priced-out Angelenos making up the population growth, it’s also shifted rapidly in recent years from reliably conservative to an ideological mishmash.

Voter registration: 36.7% Democratic, 36.2% Republican, 19.5% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Ken Calvert 48.2%, Will Rollins 30.4%

Republican Calvert has been in Congress since 1993, but he isn’t accustomed to having to actually compete for his seat. The last time his margin of victory wasn’t in the double digits was 14 years ago. But after redistricting, this longtime incumbent with unimpeachable conservative credentials was plunked into a district where the numbers of registered Democrats and Republicans are almost exactly equal. 

Though the advantage is still probably Calvert’s, his opponent, Rollins ticks two important boxes for Democrats. First, he’s a former federal prosecutor who helped work on at least one Jan. 6 riot case. That resume likely inoculates him against the charge of being “soft on crime,” while also giving Rollins an extra reason to bash Calvert for his decision to vote against the certification of the 2020 presidential election

The other potential plus for Rollins: He’s gay. That may be particularly helpful in Palm Springs, home to a large LGBTQ community. It also paints a particularly sharp contrast with Calvert, who has long been opposed to same-sex marriage and other LGBT rights — but who has since come around on the issue.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Ken Calvert

  • Former President Donald Trump
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • Riverside Sheriffs’ Association
  • California Republican Party

Will Rollins

  • California Labor Federation
  • California Democratic Party

District 45

The district

This district runs from Brea and Fullerton in north Orange County, out east to “Little India” in Artesia, before heading south to the center of the region’s political gravity in Westminster and Garden Grove — Little Saigon. Once presumed to be a Republican stronghold, the steretoype of a community full of anti-communist Cold Warriors hasn’t rung true for a while. Democrats now outnumber Republicans here, though turnout still tends to favor the GOP.

Voter registration: 37.8% Democratic, 32.3% Republican, 24.5% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Michelle Steel 48.2%, Jay Chen 43.1%

California’s independent redistricting commission was tasked with keeping “communities of interest” together to magnify their political power. By that yardstick, this race is a resounding success. Both candidates in this Asian-plurality district are Asian American.

That may be where the similarities between Steel and Chen end. Steel, 66, is an Orange County GOP institution. Married to Shawn Steel, former California Republican Party chairperson and current RNC chairperson from California, she was elected to the state Board of Equalization — reportedly becoming the highest ranking Korean American elected official in the country at the time — before winning a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors. She picked up her congressional seat in 2020, in part by running on her opposition to Gov. Newsom’s COVID-19 mandates. Back then, the district was narrowly Republican. This new one is narrowly Democratic.

Chen, 20 years younger than Steel, is hoping to take advantage of that change of political scenery. A longtime local politico, he’s a current community college board trustee, a former school board member and a two-time congressional candidate. Since the U.S. Supreme Court rescinded the federal right to an abortion, Chen has been particulary aggressive in pointing out Steel’s conservative views on the subject.

Since before the primary, Steel has repeatedly depicted Chen as a lefty extremist. That’s in part by pointing out his past as a delegate to the presidential campaign of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. But in a throwback appeal to the district’s anti-Communist roots, she’s also suggested that Chen, a longtime Navy reservist and the son of Taiwanese immigrants, would be soft on the Chinese Communist Party

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Jay Chen

  • California Labor Federation
  • Equality California
  • California Democratic Party

Michelle Steel

  • Orange County Sheriff Don Barnes
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • California Republican Party

District 47

The district

From Seal Beach in the north to Laguna Beach in the south, the district traces the mostly affluent, mostly well-educated, once-Republican but now somewhat less so coast of Orange County. It also pops inland to take in Irvine, with its predictably left-leaning campus community. 

Voter registration: 35.6% Democratic, 34.0% Republican, 24.5% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Katie Porter 51.7%, Scott Baugh, 30.9%

Few members of Congress have attained the profile that Democrat Porter has captured in her four short years on the national stage. A consumer bankruptcy law professor and a protégé of progressive icon Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Porter exhibited an early knack for eviscerating titans of finance and corporate CEOs while on the House Financial Services Committee. That won the hearts of progressives and populists across the nation and turned her into one of Congress’ most formidable fundraisers. But Porter’s progressive cred has always been an odd fit for Central Orange County, even if the region’s voters are shifting away from the GOP.

Last year brought two political setbacks for Porter. First, she was removed from her well-televised committee perch to the dismay of many progressives. Then California’s redistricting commission reduced the Democratic majority in her district from more than 20,000 to just more than 6,000.

But if Republicans were hoping a soft-spoken moderate could pick off well-heeled centrist voters turned off by Porter’s banker-bashing, they aren’t getting that with Baugh. An Orange County Republican leader and former Assemblymember, Baugh has a reputation for sharp-elbowed campaign tactics, which he recently put to use helping to defeat Republican Tyler Diep, an Assembly moderate

Baugh’s case against Porter: She hates capitalism. Porter’s case against Baugh: He’s far to the right of the district, particularly on abortion and same-sex marraige, both of which he opposes.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Scott Baugh

  • The Club for Growth PAC
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Katie Porter

  • Planned Parenthood Action Fund
  • California Nurses Association
  • U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren
  • California Democratic Party

District 49

The district

From Dana Point to Encinitas, this coastal stretch of SoCal is bisected by the Camp Pendleton Marine base. That also marks a pretty good political demarcation, with voters in tony south Orange County leaning Republican and those in the coastal cities of north San Diego County skewing Democratic. Add them together and you have one of the swingiest swing districts in the state.

Voter registration: 36.4% Democratic, 33.4% Republican, 23.0% no party preference

The scoop

Primary results: Mike Levin 48.9%, Brian Maryott 19.0%

In 2018, Levin, an environmental attorney and longtime Democratic Party activist, joined the class of first-time candidates who rode a blue wave of anti-Trump disconent to a double-digit victory. In 2020, he won again with the benefit of a blue-skewed district and high turnout during a presidential election. But things aren’t looking quite so easy for the incumbent this year. The state’s new electoral map dropped Levin into a true toss-up, and there’s no Donald Trump on the ballot to run against this time.

Among the bevy of Republicans who eagerly lined up to take him on this year, Maryott emerged the clear victor in the June primary. The former mayor of San Juan Capistrano and retired financial planner ran against Levin in 2020 by leaning into his reputation as a smart, fiscally conservative money guy. This year he’s once again steering clear of the most incendiary hot-button issues that could alienate the area’s well-to-do voters, hoping that name recognition, a less favorable environment for Democrats and the new district will be enough to put him over the top. Like Republican congressional candidates in competitive races across both the state and the country, he’s been particularly cagey about his position on national abortion policy. 

Levin can take heart in the June primary results: Democrats — Levin and a little-known other candidate — won more than half of the votes combined. That’s an inauspicious sign for Maryott, both because the general election electorate tends to be more Dem-friendly and because the primary this year on the Republican side was so competitive and more likely to draw voters to the polls than Levin’s snoozy cakewalk to the November ballot.

Applicants

  • Democratic
  • Republican
  • American Independent
  • Green
  • Libertarian
  • Peace & Freedom
  • No Party
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Key Endorsements

Mike Levin

  • California Democratic Party
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC
  • NARAL Pro-Choice America 

Brian Maryott

  • Rep. Darrell Issa
  • U.S. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy
  • Assemblymember Marie Waldron
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