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U.S. House

Hot Races

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The primary election for California’s seats in the U.S. House of Representatives will take place on June 7, 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: 33.2% Democratic, 38.3% Republican, 19.7% no party preference

The scoop

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 electoral map divided that old district in two. When McClintock opted to run in the southwestern-most segment, that left this new seat wide open. 

Two darlings of California conservatism stepped up: Rocklin Assemblymember Kevin Kiley and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones. Kiley, a 37-year-old lawyer, ran a long-shot campaign for governor in last year’s recall race and has spent much of his legislative career introducing equally long-shot bills designed to irk and embarrass Democrats. Jones, who narrowly lost a bid for Congress in 2016, raised his profile as sheriff by assailing California’s “sanctuary state” law, publicly beefing with Black Lives Matter activists and refusing to enforce state COVID restrictions.

Though the district leans red, it’s not quite as crimson as its prior incarnation. Democrat Kermit Jones, a Placerville internal medicine doctor with a law degree, is hoping his relatively moderate political message and his impressive resume — plus a GOP vote split between Kiley and Jones — will give him a path to the November ballot. 

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
  • State Senate GOP Leader Scott Wilk
  • Former President Donald Trump

Scott Jones

  • California State Sheriffs’ Association
  • Rep. Tom McClintock

Kermit Jones

  • Congressional Black Caucus PAC

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: 43.4% Democratic, 28.5% Republican, 20.7% no party preference

The scoop

When Rep. Jerry McNerney joined the throng of House Democrats rushing for the exits this year, two-term Democratic Rep. Josh 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 easily shook off that label in 2018, when he first ran for election 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. Tom Patti, a Republican county supervisor and former boxing coach to Mike Tyson, may be best known for challenging vaccine requirements during the pandemic. So far, he has raised the most campaign cash — though his warchest is still a small fraction of Harder’s. But Patti will have to compete for the second spot on the November ballot with three other Republicans. That includes Jonathan Madison, a Bay Area lawyer who has cobbled together a degree of name recognition and conservative cred as an occasional guest on Fox Business.

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
  • Equality California

Tom Patti

  • Stockton Police Officers’ Association
  • Republican Assemblymember Heath Flora

District 13

The district

This Central Valley 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 here are Latino, which gives the district its Democratic disposition. But because Republicans tend to turn out in higher numbers here, national GOP groups see this as eminently flippable. 

Voter registration: 42.9% Democratic, 28.5% Republican, 21.5% no party preference

The scoop

When Rep. Josh Harder hopped up north to run in a more Dem-friendly district, Assemblymember Adam Gray was quick to step up to take his place. One of the more business-friendly Democrats in the state Assembly, Gray quickly amassed endorsements from virtually every major party official in the state. But some progressives and left-leaning interest groups are backing Phil Arballo instead, citing Gray’s industry-friendly leanings. If Arballo sounds familiar, it’s because he ran against then-Rep. Devin Nunes in 2020. He didn’t come particularly close, but running against one of the most reviled Republicans in American liberaldom helped him build up an enviable small-dollar donor network and social media profile. 

So far two GOP hopefuls have drawn the most money and attention: John Duarte, a nut and grape farmer who sued the federal government over the Clean Water Act, and David Giglio, a Fresno sports card and game shop owner who launched his campaign in 2021 and has been collecting campaign funds and high-profile endorsements ever since.

Applicants

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

Phil Arballo

  • SEIU California
  • San Joaquin Valley Democratic Club

John Duarte

  • U.S. House GOP leader Kevin McCarthy

David Giglio

  • Rep. Tom McClintock
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
  • Merced County Republican Party

Adam Gray

  • California Democratic Party
  • Peace Officers Research Association of California
  • Gov. Gavin Newsom

District 15

The district

From South San Francisco down the Caltrain corridor to Redwood City, this is among the most affluent, and overwhelmingly Democratic, districts in the state. But there’s another side to the newly drawn district: It includes some of San Francisco’s poorest and most violence-ravaged neighborhoods.

Voter registration: 55.6% Democratic, 12.8% Republican, 26.1% no party preference

The scoop

Since Rep. Jackie Speier was first elected to represent South San Francisco and the northern reach of Silicon Valley in Congress in 2008, she has never won reelection with less than 75% of the vote. Now that she’s retiring, voters are in for a rare treat: A competitive election.

The Democratic powers that be have lined up behind Kevin Mullin, the second-ranking Democrat in the Assembly and a reliable progressive vote. So, too, has Speier, who helped propel Mullin’s father to state office in 2002 and hired the younger Mullin as district director when she was in the state Senate.

But to the surprise of many in Sacramento, Mullin’s path to victory is hardly preordained. David Canepa — a San Mateo County supervisor who emphasizes his support for Medicare for all and tuition-free community college and has railed against the “attempted coronation” of Mullin — has emerged as a fundraising powerhouse. The same can be said of Emily Beach, an army vet who sits on the Burlingame City Council, where she’s pushed for the preservation of open spaces and less car-centric transportation infrastructure. While Democrat Andrew Watters remains on the ballot, he has withdrawn.

Applicants

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

Kevin Mullin

  • California Democratic Party
  • California Labor Federation
  • State State President Pro Tem Toni Atkins
  • Rep. Jackie Speier
  • Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
  • Equality California

David Canepa

  • Board of Equalization Chairperson Malia Cohen
  • San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Shamann Walton
  • National Nurses United

Emily Beach

  • Former state Schools Superintendent Delaine Eastin
  • Vote Mama
  • Pacifica Mayor Mary Bier

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. The demographics are similar — roughly 60% of the population here is Latino — though it swings a bit more consistently Democratic in its voting behavior.

Voter registration: 43.1% Democratic, 26.0% Republican, 23.1% no party preference

The scoop

David 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 petered out during the “blue wave” election in 2018, when he was temporarily unseated by a Democrat, but in 2020 Valadao was back in Congress. 

But there have been two big changes since November 2020. First, when former President Trump was impeached after his supporters breached the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, Valadao was one of only 10 Republicans to cast a “yea” vote. Many within the GOP base still haven’t forgiven him. That includes Chris Mathys, a self-described “RINO hunter” (an epithet that stands for “Republican in name only”) who served on the Fresno city council in the late 1990s when, most notably, he led the charge against an affordable housing development. This year, he tried and failed to include the title “Trump Conservative” under his name on the ballot. Despite all that, Mathys hasn’t been endorsed by the former president, making Valadao the only impeachment-backing Republican without a Trump-endorsed challenger.

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. Thus the bigger threat to Valadao’s tenure in Congress likely comes from Democrat Rudy Salas, who has been representing Hanford and the I-5 side of Kern County in the Assembly since 2012. One of the Capitol’s more business-friendly Democrats, his bipartisan claims to fame include being the lone Democrat to vote against a gas tax hike in 2017 and an effort this year to increase penalties on shoplifters.

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
  • Rep. Jim Costa

David Valadao

  • California Republican Party

District 27

The district

It includes 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 emblematic of the suburban shift away from the Republican Party during the Trump years as this part of northern Los Angeles County.

Voter registration: 41.3% Democratic, 29.6% Republican, 21.8% no party preference

The scoop

From Republican Steve Knight to Democrat Katie Hill back to Republican Mike Garcia, this district, once a GOP stronghold, has been ping-ponging back and forth 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. And that was before redistricting jettisoned the district’s most conservative outpost in Simi Valley, giving Democratic voters even more of an edge.

The big question that Democrats now face is who they trust most to take on Garcia during what promises to be a tough election year. Christy Smith is a known quantity with legislative experience. A relatively moderate former member of the Assembly, she ran in the special election to fill the seat after Katie Hill resigned in 2019. She also ran during the regularly scheduled election. But she lost both times. While most of the state’s Democratic establishment is rallying behind her for another go, some are considering their alternatives. One candidate who has drawn considerable money and attention is Quaye Quartey. Like Garcia, he’s the son of immigrants, a Navy vet and a person of color. He’s also new to politics, which he counts as a plus. He says he was inspired to run after the U.S. Capitol riot on Jan. 6, 2021.

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
  • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association

Quaye Quartey

  • Rep. Barbara Lee
  • Ret. Lt. Col. Alexander Vindman
  • New Democrat Coalition

Christy Smith

  • Attorney General Rob Bonta
  • Equality California

District 42

The district

Including all of Long Beach and Signal Hill, the district then shoots north, wending its way through southeast Los Angeles County all the way to the City of Commerce. Wrapped within its borders are some of the state’s densest Latino-majority neighborhoods.

Voter registration: 54.7% Democratic, 16.3% Republican, 22.2% no party preference

The scoop

Two long-serving members of Congress — Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Lucille Roybal-Allard of Commerce — were drawn into this district, but both announced that this term would be their last. This being one of the safer Democratic seats in the state, eight candidates, six of them Democrats, threw their hats into this very crowded ring. 

Pity the easily confused voter: The two most prominent contenders are both 44-year-old elected officials named Garcia. Robert Garcia is the mayor of Long Beach and has been one of the state party’s most celebrated up-and-comers for years. In 2019, it was Garcia, the city’s first Latino and first openly gay mayor, who got to play host to the state Democratic Party convention. The next year, he spoke at the national one. His stewardship of the city’s public health response to a pandemic that killed both his mother and stepfather earned him additional accolades

Running against him is Assemblymember Cristina Garcia. One of the Legislature’s more progressive members, she represents the inland, less affluent part of the district and made gender equity her calling card with bills to cut taxes on tampons and other menstrual products and to ban large toy stores from dividing their products by gender. In contrast to the mayor’s vaunted status among Democratic leaders, she’s also a bit of an outsider within her own party. That’s partly because her environmental justice advocacy work has put her at odds with the influential trades unions. But it’s also because Garcia, one of the Capitol’s most vocal champions of the #MeToo movement, was found in 2018 to have violated the Legislature’s sexual harrassment policy.

Because just the top two candidates can proceed to November, there may only be room for one Garcia on the general election ballot. With so many candidates running, and only a single Republican, there may only be room for one Democrat.

Applicants

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

Robert Garcia

  • Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC
  • SEIU California

Cristina Garcia

  • Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon
  • Sanders campaign co-chair Nina Turner

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: 36.1% Democratic, 33.6% Republican, 23.4% no party preference

The scoop

In 2018, Mike Levin 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 are looking grimmer for the incumbent this year. The state’s new electoral map dropped Levin into a true toss-up district, and there’s no Donald Trump on the ballot to run against.

No wonder so many Republicans have eagerly lined up to take him on. Most familiar to the district’s voters is Brian Maryott, former mayor of San Juan Capistrano and retired financial planner who ran against Levin in 2020 by leaning into his reputation as a smart money guy. Maryott snagged the endorsement of the state GOP, but Lisa Bartlett, a termed-out Orange County supervisor, is doing her best to shatter Maryott’s aura of inevitability. In late March she filed a lawsuit compelling Maryott, who is retired, to remove “certified financial planner” from his ballot description.

While Bartlett is portraying herself as a “common sense” moderate who can win in a competitive district and Maryott often steers clear of the most incendiary hot-button issues that could alienate the area’s well-to-do voters, Christopher Rodriguez is the candidate who most clearly channels Trump. A Marine combat veteran turned Realtor who was elected to the Oceanside city council in 2018, he supports the completion of the border wall, decries the malign influence of “weak men” and describes himself on his campaign website as “100% PRO LIFE.”

Applicants

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

Lisa Bartlett

  • Larry Elder

Mike Levin

  • California Democratic Party
  • Congressional Progressive Caucus PAC
  • California Environmental Voters
  • SEIU California

Brian Maryott

  • California Republican Party
  • Sen. Brian Jones
  • Rep. Darrell Issa
  • U.S. House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy

Christopher Rodriguez

  • California Republican Assembly
  • Former Oceanside mayor Jim Wood
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