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Is Rep. Steve Knight California's most endangered incumbent?

Candidates for the 25th Congressional District seat — attorney Bryan Caforio, left, incumbent Steve Knight and LAPD Lt. Lou Vince — debate in Newhall on May 5. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times) None
Candidates for the 25th Congressional District seat — attorney Bryan Caforio, left, incumbent Steve Knight and LAPD Lt. Lou Vince — debate in Newhall on May 5. (Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

A new analysis from the nonpartisan Cook Political Report says that Republican Rep. Steve Knight, a freshman congressman from Antelope Valley in northern Los Angeles County, is considered a top target for Democrats who want to regain footing in the U.S. House.

Analyst David Wasserman moved Knight's Republican district into the "toss-up" category, thanks to turbulence surrounding presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and the growth in Democratic voter registration in the 25th Congressional District, which stretches from Lancaster to Santa Clarita and Simi Valley.

Knight's predecessor, former Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Santa Clarita), benefited from having 14,000 more registered Republican voters than Democrats in the district when he was last elected in 2012.

Knight has seen that lead evaporate. Before this week's primary, California Secretary of State Alex Padilla reported that there are now 3,000 more registered Democrats in the district than Republicans.

Wasserman wrote that Knight was "now the most vulnerable incumbent in California."

Knight will face attorney Bryan Caforio in November's runoff after Caforio bested LAPD Lt. Lou Vince for second in the primary.

Caforio has been lavished with endorsements and contributions from Democrats and their political committees.

Earlier this spring, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee chairman, Rep. Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, said the seat is " on our battlefield now in a very aggressive way " thanks to the prospects of Trump's candidacy.

On election night, DCCC staffers were in Santa Barbara to see the results of the nine-person primary race to replace Rep. Lois Capps — Democratic Santa Barbara County Supervisor Salud Carbajal came in first — and spoke with excitement about the prospect of Caforio taking on Knight.

As the general election approaches, Caforio will probably face more intense criticism for being from outside the district . He and his wife lived in Los Angeles and moved to Santa Clarita shortly before announcing his candidacy for Congress in December.

Knight served on the Palmdale City Council and represented the north Los Angeles County area in the state Assembly and Senate. Knight's father, the late William J. "Pete" Knight, was a former Air Force test pilot and Republican state senator in the Antelope Valley.

Still, with Knight's sometimes shaky fundraising, reluctance to speak about whether he supports Trump and an incident last year in which he told off a protester, Democrats think they can take Knight down.


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