Rise of the David Valadao Club

One reason why incumbent Republican Garcia was considered to be especially vulnerable this year is because his congressional district, which encompasses the northeast suburban corner of Los Angeles County, is mostly Democratic, at least by registration.

Based on the most recent numbers, registered Democrats in the district outnumber registered Republicans by almost 13 percentage points. 

And yet, Garcia was reelected this year. In fact, the Associated Press called the race on Wednesday, making it the 218th Republican seat and the one that secured the GOP majority in the U.S. House.

That places Garcia in what might be called the “David Valadao Club of Republicans.” Valadao has long represented the south Central Valley, despite his district’s overwhelmingly Democratic registration. Valadao’s race has yet to be called, but Steel in Orange County and Calvert in Riverside County also joined the club this election. 

At last count, there are as many as a dozen Republican congressional and legislative candidates across the state who were elected in districts where Democrats outnumber Republicans. 

So far, there’s only one example of the opposite — a Democrat representing a Republican district. Marie Alvarado-Gil, a charter school administrator and self-described centrist, defeated fellow Democrat Tim Robertson in a state Senate district spread across the rural central Sierra where Republicans exceed registered Democrats by roughly 3 percentage points. That’s largely the result of an electoral fluke in the June primary, thanks to the state’s “top two” election system.

This is all more than just political trivia. These outliers are most likely to flex their bipartisan muscles and skew centrist in an effort to appeal to their purple electorates — though Garcia himself has been a bit of an exception to that rule.

And for any luckless readers who are already obsessing about the next general election in 2024, these outliers are likely to be top electoral targets.

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