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Orange County Republican Rep. Ed Royce picks up a 2018 challenger

Democratic congressional candidate Phil Janowicz will challenge Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) in 2018. None
Democratic congressional candidate Phil Janowicz will challenge Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) in 2018.

A former chemistry professor will challenge longtime Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) — one of the seven Republican members of Congress in California whom the Democratic party has said it will target for defeat in the 2018 midterm elections

Phil Janowicz, a former chemistry professor at Cal State Fullerton who now runs a education consulting firm, is a first-time candidate. He'll start his campaign Tuesday.

“People have become disgusted by the current state of our politics in Washington, D.C. Partisanship and gridlock, never-ending conflict, and promises to ‘drain the swamp’ that are broken as quickly as they are made," he said in a statement. "Our country and our communities deserve better."

Royce was first elected in 1992 and is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Democrats are targeting the district — which mostly composes voters in north Orange County but also includes Diamond Bar and Chino Hills — in part because because Hillary Clinton took 51.5% of the vote there compared with Trump's 42.9%.

But Royce was easily reelected with 57% of the vote. He starts off at a significant advantage beyond seniority: He has $2.8 million tucked away for his next campaign.

Just over 36% of registered voters in the district are Republicans while 34.37% are Democrats and about a quarter list no party preference.

Democrats are sending national operatives to Orange County to help win seats in the traditionally Republican stronghold.

The president's party typically loses seats in midterm elections, and Democrats are working to tie Republican members of Congress to the president in the hopes of winning the House. 

Janowicz is already trying to tie Royce to Trump, accusing Royce of voting "in lock-step with Trump 96% of the time," seemingly referring to the score the website FiveThirtyEight has assigned members of Congress based on how often they vote in line with Trump's positions.

Janowicz, who lives in Buena Park with his wife, Angela, is among several new candidates with science backgrounds who are entering the political arena on the heels of President Trump's victory.

He was at a candidate training run by the nonprofit political advocacy group 314 Action in Washington, D.C., last week, according to his campaign consultant Jason Mills. The group is also assisting a candidate running against Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale).

The National Republican Congressional Committee shot back Tuesday.

“Ed Royce is a trusted voice fighting to keep Southern California families safe from very real threats at home and abroad," said NRCC spokesman Jack Pandol. "Liberal professor Phil Janowicz may hypothesize he has a snowball’s chance challenging Royce, but in the real world, he’ll find Royce’s support runs deep and wide in Orange County."

UPDATE

April 25, 12:07 p.m.: This article was updated with a comment from the National Republican Congressional Committee.

This article was originally published on April 24.

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FOR THE RECORD

12:07 p.m.: An earlier version of this post said the district included Chino. It includes Chino Hills.

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