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Endorsement: Will Rollins for Congress

Will Rollins, 37, Democratic former federal prosecutor, left, and Ken Calvert, 69, Republican incumbent.
(Associated Press)

The 41st Congressional District has been solidly Republican for decades, but California’s newly drawn lines reshaped the district into one where registered Democrats now marginally outnumber Republicans. The race has become one of the most closely watched election battles in the country, one that’s fueling Democrats’ hopes for maintaining control of the House. The Inland Empire district includes Corona, Palm Springs, Lake Elsinore, Menifee and a few other small cities.

We think Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, is the best choice. He brings new ideas and vigor to a district that has been represented by Republican Rep. Ken Calvert for three decades.

Calvert is the longest-serving congressional representative from the Inland Empire, but he has tarnished the office with his votes following the attempted coup of the U.S. presidency. Calvert was one of 139 House members who failed to obey the will of the voters by refusing to certify the 2020 presidential election. He also voted against a commission to investigate the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Calvert’s grip has slackened in a district where conservative Republicans have made national headlines for their strident views on issues such as immigration and masking during the pandemic. The demographics of the district have changed with the addition of Palm Springs, which has a large population of LGBTQ residents.

The L.A. Times’ editorial board endorsements for statewide ballot measures, elected offices in Los Angeles city and county, L.A. Unified School District board, L.A. county superior court, statewide offices, the state Legislature and U.S. House and Senate seats.

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Rollins has the ideal blend of policy know-how and pragmatism for an area with complex needs, including housing affordability, environmental pollution and infrastructure that has failed to keep pace with population growth. Rollins is knowledgeable on issues important to voters and is willing to reach across the aisle to work with Republicans to help enact policy changes. For example, he sees potential to work with Republicans to try to obtain federal funding for a task force to focus on gun-related crimes in Riverside County, and to look at ways to lower taxes for middle-class families. Rollins is the kind of politician that the country needs at a time of extreme political division.

A former federal prosecutor specializing in counter-terrorism and national security, Rollins is familiar with the threats posed by domestic terrorism and extremism. He wants the U.S. to pursue a humane yet secure border. Rollins was an assistant U.S. attorney in the National Security Division at the Department of Justice, and he worked on the team that helped track down, arrest and arraign Southern California residents accused of participating in the Jan. 6 insurrection. Although a lifelong Democrat, his first jobs in politics after graduating from Columbia Law School were in Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration, serving as an assistant to Ross LaJeunesse, the governor’s deputy chief of staff, and later as an assistant press secretary.

Rollins promises to champion an agenda to guarantee reproductive rights and to codify same-sex marriage into federal law, and to pursue legislation that would ensure that couples like him and his partner, Paolo, have equal rights when it comes to adoption and tax benefits. He also wants to improve access to healthcare and lower the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to at least 60. His other priorities include reforming the tax structure to lower taxes for families who are working-class or middle-income.

Calvert declined an invitation for an interview with the editorial board. He has not responded to Rollins’ request for a debate or hosted any public town halls. Voters deserve a candidate who’s not afraid to defend his votes and actions in a public forum. This is important for any candidate, but especially one with a record like Calvert’s in a district with such deep needs. Voters would be wise to choose Rollins, an energetic candidate with well-formulated plans to address the needs of this district.


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