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2018 electionCongressional races

Liberal group wades into primary fights early, endorses challengers in four GOP-held districts

Sam Jammal, a Democrat running against Rep. Ed Royce, is one of four congressional challengers Democracy for America has endorsed. (Courtesy of Sam Jammal for Congress)
Sam Jammal, a Democrat running against Rep. Ed Royce, is one of four congressional challengers Democracy for America has endorsed. (Courtesy of Sam Jammal for Congress)

More than four dozen Democrats are already running for seats in the 10 GOP-held congressional districts the minority is eyeing in California ahead of the midterm elections. Many left-leaning groups have avoided picking favorites, choosing instead to attack incumbents while they wait for the heated primaries to play out in June.

Democracy for America, the progressive political action committee started by Howard Dean, is doing things differently.

On Friday, the group announced endorsements in four California districts: 

  • Bryan Caforio, running against Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale)
  • Sam Jammal, running against Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)
  • Laura Oatman, running against Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa)
  • Mike Levin, running against Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista)

All of them are Democrats.

In a statement, the group’s chairman, Jim Dean, said victories in California will be “absolutely critical” to Democrats’ plans to retake the House in 2018 and in opposing President Trump’s agenda.

The group said it made its choices based on conversations with candidates and input from some of its 305,000 members statewide. So far this year, Democracy for America has endorsed Emilio Huerta, who is running for a second time against GOP Rep. David Valadao; Kevin de León, who is challenging Sen. Dianne Feinstein; and Wendy Carrillo, a labor activist who won an Assembly seat on Tuesday.

In an interview, the group’s spokesman, Neil Sroka, said the crowded fields in these races — Knight, Royce and Rohrabacher each have at least six Democrats running against them — helped push them to endorse early.

“We’re choosing between a number of good Democrats, and ferreting out the one that’s best equipped to win and best equipped to stand up for our values when they get to Washington is really important,” Sroka said. 

Sroka rejected the idea that lining up behind more progressive candidates in traditionally swing or Republican-heavy districts could be harmful to Democrats’ chances.

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