A Democrat turns on his own party’s committee. Fox News hosts turn on a sitting Republican congressman. A Trump son turns out to help a political ally—only to provide political fodder to the opposition.
Here’s a quick recap of what happened this week across California’s 53 congressional districts:
1. The Blue Wave meets the Orange Wall
California’s 39th congressional district is exactly the kind of political territory Democrats hope to conquer in November. Relatively affluent, well-educated, and ethnically diverse, this tri-county patch of suburban SoCal has been represented by Rep. Ed Royce since 1993, but went for Hillary Clinton in 2016. Now that Royce is out, it’s considered one of the state’s most competitive districts—the kind House majorities are made of.
But a new poll from Monmouth University suggests the Democratic candidate, Gil Cisneros, has his work cut out for him. Of the more than 400 voters surveyed, 46 percent favored the Republican candidate, Young Kim, while only 42 percent favored Cisneros, a U.S. Navy vet and lottery winner.
The numbers look worse for the Democrat when only likely voters were asked: Kim holds 51 percent of the vote, assuming turnout levels typical of a midterm, and is still up by 6 percentage points in a projected blue wave.
It’s not all bad news for Cisneros. As The Los Angeles Times reported, Kim’s lead is still within the survey’s statistical margin of error. Plus, more of the district’s voters than not disapprove of President Donald Trump and nearly 80 percent of respondents said they considered it important to vote this fall to send him a message.
Still, the poll was enough to prompt both California election tracker Around the Capitol and the FiveThirtyEight.com election forecast model to reclassify the race from “toss up” to “leans Republican.”
2. P.O.’d at the D.C.C.C.
Andrew Janz is a prosecutor who wants to bump Republican congressman and Trump loyalist Devin Nunes from his Central Valley seat (CA-22). The only problem? The Democratic party’s congressional organization won’t return his calls. As Politico explains, party committees only have so much money to spend, which “requires a form of political triage — making tough decisions about sidelining races that are deemed too far out of reach.“ Janz says he’s fine without their support, but he questions the organization’s “motives” and “competency.”
3. Claims against Kavanaugh Orwellian — GOP congressman
Sexual assault allegations against President Trump’s U.S. Supreme Court pick, Judge Brett Kavanaugh, have dominated political news all week, grinding what had been his pro forma confirmation to a halt. Last week, Palo Alto professor Christine Blasey Ford went public with her claim that Kavanaugh attempted to rape her while they were both teenagers.
But at least one Republican congressman isn’t taking the claim seriously. “High school? Give me a break,” Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) said at a campaign event over the weekend. He likened the allegations to something written by George Orwell, the author of 1984. Audio of the event was published by the left-leaning political news site, TalkingPointsMemo.
Rohrabacher’s skeptism was echoed by the president in a tweet this morning:
I have no doubt that, if the attack on Dr. Ford was as bad as she says, charges would have been immediately filed with local Law Enforcement Authorities by either her or her loving parents. I ask that she bring those filings forward so that we can learn date, time, and place!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 21, 2018
4. Nunes gets frisky
Despite his undisputed advantage in his race against Andrew Janz, Rep. Devin Nunes isn’t taking any risks. According to the Fresno Bee, the congressman allegedly held an event in Sanger on Tuesday in which guests were required to provide their names and contact information, and agree to a potential pat down beforehand.
5. A visit from Trump the Younger
Of all the Republican candidates hoping to keep GOP-held seats, Diane Harkey may be in the most trouble. In June, a majority of voters supported Democratic candidates over Republicans in this coastal GOP enclave (CA-49). In her electoral battle against Democrat Mike Levin, Harkey needs all the help she can get.
Eric Trump, one of the nation’s First Sons, obliged this week, resulting in this photo:
— Diane Harkey (@diane_harkey) September 15, 2018
The deputy research director at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was only too happy to retweet.
6. Term of art
In July of last year, Democratic candidate Josh Harder (CA-10) was asked for his position on abortion. One man at the event put the question to the candidate: “So, pro-choice, full nine terms?” “Yes,” Harder responded, following up with “No exceptions.”
That’s a bold stance: a term being about nine months, nine terms would add up to just under seven years old. But assuming the questioner was asking about the legality of late-term abortion, Harder’s response would put him at odds with California law, reports the Modesto Bee.
The Harder team has since issued a statement saying that he “misunderstood the question” and that he supports the state standard.
7. Denham and Harder go shoulder to shoulder
Harder and his opponent, Republican Rep. Jeff Denham, offered dueling perspectives on trade, campaign cash, and, yes, abortion, in a recorded sit down with the Modesto Bee. You can watch the whole thing here.
Harder: “I’m running against somebody who talks a great game. Then he goes back to Washington and votes with his party 98 percent of the time.”
Denham: “I’ll put my record up against anybody. I work across the aisle.”
8. Et tu, Fox News?
As a young progressive Democrat running in one of California’s most blood-red districts, Ammar Campa-Najjar has a tough campaign ahead of him. But at least the campaign ads basically write themselves.
In a new attack ad against Rep. Duncan Hunter, who was recently indicted along with his wife for a litany of campaign finance violations, Campa-Najjar’s campaign simply strung together a series of clips from Fox News in which anchors alternately expressed dismay, disbelief, and disdain for the embattled congressional candidate.
9. A fond farewell
As the wealthiest member of Congress, Rep. Darrell Issa doesn’t need a new gig after he retires from Congress later this year, but he’s getting one anyway. This week it was announced that President Trump had nominated Issa to lead the United States Trade and Development Agency.
That prompted the following tweet from Kurt Bardella, a former spokesperson for Issa who was fired in 2011 for sharing information with a reporter:
— Kurt Bardella (@kurtbardella) September 19, 2018
10. Patriot or peddler
Local school district races don’t typically make national news, but this week, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (CA-48) endorsed a candidate for the Ocean View School District board who the OC Weekly described as a “peddler of racist conspiracies.”
As Mother Jones reported, Rohrabacher shared the endorsement on Instagram describing the candidate, Gracey Larrea-Van Der Mark, as “a patriot.” Larrea-Van Der Mark was recently removed from two local government panels for referring to black protesters as “colored.” She has also hosted a video playlist on his YouTube channel called “Holocaust Hoax?” As noted in the article, neither Rohrabacher nor Larrea-Van Der Mark responded to requests for comment.
In an emailed press release, Rohrabacher’s opponent in the race, Harley Rouda, called the endorsement “(d)angerous and against everything our country stands for in the world.”