Live

Election 2018: Democrats seize control of the House, Republicans keep Senate

We’re tracking the major U.S. House, Senate and gubernatorial races in California and across the country on election day. Track the live results from the 2018 midterm elections here.

Democrat Gil Cisneros defeats Republican Young Kim, flipping last GOP House seat in Orange County

Gil Cisneros
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Gil Cisneros has defeated Republican Young Kim in the 39th Congressional District, putting the seat held by retiring GOP Rep. Ed Royce into the Democrats’ column. His victory means the longtime conservative stronghold of Orange County will be represented entirely by Democrats in the House next session.

Kim and Cisneros had been locked in battle over the seat left open by Royce’s retirement. Kim was considered by many to have an edge going into the race because of her name recognition and long history as a district staffer for Royce, who had endorsed her.

Cisneros, who dominated the money race by pouring $9 million of his own funds into his first run for office, tried to use President Trump’s unpopularity to weigh down Kim’s bid, even registering a lookalike campaign web address that declared “Young Kim is Donald Trump.” Kim broke with Trump on several of his policies, including family separation at the border and curtailing family-sponsored visas. Nearly a third of the district’s residents are Asian American, and a third are Latino.

Democrat Katie Porter unseats two-time incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters in California’s 45th Congressional District

Katie Porter
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

First-time candidate Katie Porter, a UC Irvine law professor and consumer protection attorney, defeated two-time incumbent Rep. Mimi Walters of Laguna Niguel in California’s 45th Congressional District, becoming the first Democrat elected to the seat in the longtime Republican stronghold in Orange County.

Porter ran on a progressive platform, touting her support for universal healthcare and vowing to take corporate money out of politics. Her victory in the wealthy, highly educated district including Tustin and Mission Viejo, which had never sent a Democrat to Congress, signals the shifting political landscape in the county.

Walters, a former state legislator, was first elected to the seat in 2014 by a wide margin and reelected in 2016 by a comfortable 17 percentage points, even as Hillary Clinton won the tony suburban district by five points.

Democrats saw an opportunity and poured in resources to back Porter and attack Walters, focusing on Walters’ record of voting predominantly in line with President Trump’s policies. Porter, who emerged from a crowded primary field even though the state Democratic Party backed another candidate fellow UC Irvine professor Dave Min, assailed Walters’ vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and for the 2017 Republican tax plan, which could be costly for many Californians.

Walters avoided media attention and maintained a low profile throughout the campaign. Her ads told voters that Porter’s policies would result in massive tax increases and government-controlled healthcare.

Read More

GOP Rep. Jeff Denham loses heated race for Central Valley’s 10th District to Democrat Josh Harder

Josh Harder talks with supporters in Modesto on Oct. 25.
Josh Harder talks with supporters in Modesto on Oct. 25.
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Republican Rep. Jeff Denham has lost a tight race against Democrat Josh Harder in a heated race for the Central Valley’s 10th Congressional District.

The seat was one of seven in California heavily targeted by national Democrats after the election of President Trump. Denham, 51, had previously beaten the odds in a district carried by Hillary Clinton and President Obama in the last two presidential elections.

Harder, 32, an investor and former venture capitalist, spent most of the last decade going to school and working on the East Coast. But he was born and raised in the district and said he decided to take on Denham upon his return to stand up to Trump and protect residents’ healthcare.

For years, Democrats have looked at the district that the three-term Republican congressman represents and seen winnable odds. The region, which takes in all of Stanislaus County and the southern portion of San Joaquin County, has a slightly higher share of registered Democrats than Republicans, and Latinos — who generally lean Democratic — make up nearly the same percentage of residents as non-Latino whites. But higher GOP turnout has given Republicans an edge.

Until now, Denham had managed to keep a low national profile, more likely to be known among supporters at home as a fellow farmer committed to water and other agricultural issues. But Trump’s presidency thrust new attention on his farming credentials and policy decisions, including his middle-of-the-road approach to immigration.

Harder attacked Denham for supporting the GOP tax bill and voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Denham attempted to cast Harder as a Bay Area outsider with little experience on one of the Central Valley’s key issues — water.

Both oppose Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown’s delta tunnels proposal and had pledged to fight a plan by the Democrat-appointed state water board that could reduce the amount of water diverted from Northern California rivers for irrigation.

Read More

GOP Rep. Tom McClintock defeats Democrat Jessica Morse in deep-red Sierra Nevada district

Rep. Tom McClintock
(Randall Benton / Sacramento Bee)

Republican incumbent Tom McClintock of Elk Grove has defeated Democrat Jessica Morse to retain his seat representing California’s 4th Congressional District.

Morse, 36, jumped into the race after the election of President Trump and gave Democrats new hope of riding a national wave of energy among young voters and suburban moms to victory. But the national security strategist faced long odds in the Sierra Nevada district, home to the highest share of registered Republicans in the state.

The sleepy region primarily covers Placer and El Dorado counties; it is anchored by Sacramento suburbs and stretches from Lake Tahoe in the north to Kings Canyon National Park in the south.

Although activists have confronted McClintock, 62, at town hall meetings and protested outside his office, Republicans here hold a 13-point voter registration advantage. On Wednesday, he said his reelection victory proved his Sierra constituents valued minimum government interference, low taxes and secure borders.

“These are the policies I have pursued in Washington and will continue to pursue with increased vigor and confidence — knowing that these positions are the clear and decisive will of the vast majority of voters in this district,” he said.

The five-term incumbent helped pass the GOP tax plan, voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act and advocated for stricter immigration enforcement. He also has challenged the scientific consensus on climate change and recently came under criticism for a campaign appearance with right-wing provocateur Dinesh D’Souza, who has promoted anti-Semitic and racist tropes.

Democrats hadn’t been so excited about their prospects in the district since 2006. Morse outraised McClintock and finished the week before the race with nearly $1 million cash on hand that she poured into TV and digital ads, volunteer canvassing and more campaigning.

Detractors accused her of inflating her resume. But Morse shrugged off the allegations and touted her record working for the military, the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. She said she wants to allow Americans to buy into the Medicare system, called for comprehensive immigration reform and emphasized protection of public lands in a district with four national parks.

“I went to bed last night filled with gratitude. While we didn’t prevail at the polls, we built a foundation that strengthened our community and built a common vision for leadership that can dissolve the poisonous partisanship threatening our nation,” Morse said in a statement Wednesday.

“In a moment in history where our country is being shredded by fear, anger, and partisanship, we rose up, and I am grateful to have been part of it.”

UPDATES:

6:03 p.m.: This story has been updated with comments from Morse.

Nov. 7, 1:42 p.m.: This post was updated with comments from McClintock.

This post was originally published at 10:47 p.m., Nov. 6.

GOP Rep. David Valadao wins again in Central Valley district where Democrats have more registered voters

Rep. David Valadao, right, leaves a meeting of Republicans at the Capitol in October.
(Bill Clark / CQ Roll Call)

GOP Rep. David Valadao has outrun Democrat TJ Cox for a Central Valley seat that has long eluded Democrats despite favorable odds.

California’s 21st Congressional District, which tilts against Republicans in terms of registered voters, was one of seven seats across the state targeted by national Democrats soon after the election of President Trump. But Valadao once more proved to be a formidable incumbent in a district that he won with more than 55% of the vote in his previous three elections.

Democrats have struggled with ineffective campaigns and low voter turnout in the district, whose population is more than 70% Latino, that stretches across the rural parts of Fresno, Kings, Tulare and Kern counties. The nonpartisan handicapper Cook Political Report had labeled the race “likely Republican.”

Valadao, 41, hails from a family of local Portuguese dairy farmers and has withstood Democratic challengers because of his focus on local issues such as irrigation and water storage. Like other Central Valley Republicans, he attempted to gain some distance from the president on immigration. But Trump placed attention on his otherwise GOP-aligned policy preferences, which Democrats attacked as deeply mismatched with the needs of his constituents.

Cox, 55, was a late contender in the race after originally seeking to challenge neighboring Republican Rep. Jeff Denham. The businessman and engineer pushed Valadao on his voting record and what he called inaction on local issues.

Shortly after the race was called, Valadao pledged to return to Congress to work on education and water issues.

“The Central Valley has always been and will always be my home and I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to continue serving the place I love,” he said.

Cox said he was proud of his campaign, and its “message of working for the people to deliver healthcare, jobs and opportunity.”

UPDATES:

4:22 p.m.: This post has been updated with a comment from Cox.

Nov. 7, 2:04 p.m.: This post was updated with comment from Valadao.

This post was originally published at 11:14 p.m., Nov. 6.

5 takeaways from the California governor’s race

Democratic leaders may hold up the Golden State as the center of the country’s resistance to President Trump, but they can’t write off California’s Republican and independent voters. Despite limited money and little name recognition, Cox got 40.6% of the vote in Tuesday’s election. That number could change as provisional and late mail-in ballots are counted, but it’s in line with previous Republican gubernatorial candidates including Neel Kashkari (40%) and Meg Whitman (41%) in their bids.

Cox was able to hit 40% despite falling Republican Party registration in California. The party has steadily declined over the last two decades, falling to 24% of the state’s registered voters compared with 35% in 2002, while no party preference registration grew 12% over the same period.

Unrelenting television spots helped Newsom’s campaign spread his positive and progressive message, but Cox didn’t have the money to reach the same number of people.

Read More

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker concedes to Democrat Tony Evers

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, left, and the governor-elect, Tony Evers.
(Wisconsin State Journal / Associated Press)

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said Wednesday he has conceded defeat to Democrat Tony Evers in their election contest.

Walker said he called Evers to offer his concession concede defeat. The two-term Republican incumbent said he had held off because the race was so close, but that his campaign decided Wednesday there were not enough votes in play to change the outcome.

Based on unofficial results, Evers won by about 31,000 votes.

Walker said in a statement that he had offered the full support of his staff and Cabinet to Evers as he begins the transition.

Walker had earlier expressed concern about 2,000 absentee ballots in Milwaukee that had been reconstructed due to errors or damage. But his campaign said it ultimately determined there weren’t enough votes in question to change the outcome of the race.

Evers is slated to be sworn into office Jan. 7.

Republican Rep. Steve Knight concedes to newcomer Katie Hill in north L.A. County district

Katie Hill at a campaign night party in Santa Clarita.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Republican Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale conceded to Democratic challenger Katie Hill on Wednesday as votes were still being counted in the race to represent California’s 25th Congressional District in northern Los Angeles County.

Knight’s defeat was a major blow to the Republican Party, which lost one of its last footholds in a county that is tilting more and more Democratic as growing Latino and Asian American populations reshape the region’s politics.

Rep. Steve Knight
Rep. Steve Knight
(Kirk McKoy / Los Angeles Times)

Knight, an Army veteran who served 18 years as a Los Angeles police officer, was first elected to the House in 2014. He took pains during the campaign to cast himself as a nonpartisan problem solver for constituents with a more moderate approach to immigration than President Trump.

But at a time when Republicans are increasingly unpopular in California, Knight, 51, almost always voted with the GOP, backing Trump’s 2017 tax overhaul and the repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Hill, 31, will be one of the youngest members of freshman Democrats in the House. A former executive director of PATH, a Los Angeles nonprofit that provides services to the homeless, Hill has never before held public office.

In her campaign, she backed lowering the cost of prescription drugs and cutting taxes for the middle class, saying she would challenge a corrupt Washington culture that caters too much to the needs of campaign donors.

Mike Levin wins in the 49th Congressional District, flipping Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat to Democrats

Mike Levin
(Eduardo Contreras / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Democrat Mike Levin has won the race for the 49th Congressional District, moving controversial Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat from the Republican column. Issa has held the seat since 2002.

Levin will probably seek to put his influence on environmental issues, which have occupied most of his career since law school. He has been an executive and advocate at alternative energy organizations and has favored the state’s goal to eliminate fossil fuel in electricity production.

Democrats narrow the GOP’s lead in governors from 17 to 3

Democrats made gains at the state level as well on Tuesday, though they were greater in governors’ mansions.

Democrats captured seven governorships from Republican control. These wins break up the Republicans’ single-party control of state government in both Michigan and Wisconsin. The split of governors’ seats between the parties has narrowed significantly from 17 to three.

Democrats won majorities in six state houses, but Republicans still hold a large advantage nationwide. The results were slightly less than the eight gained by the party in 2006 and half of the 12 that Republicans gained in 1994.

Some key wins involved not flipping but winning seats. Gains in the New York Senate break up control by a Republican-led coalition there. Seats gained in the North Carolina state houses break up a Republican supermajority there, relieving the Democratic governor of a constant veto threat.

Democratic incumbent Jon Tester wins Montana Senate race

Sen. Jon Tester, surrounded by family and supporters, celebrates his reelection.
Sen. Jon Tester, surrounded by family and supporters, celebrates his reelection.
(Thom Bridge / Independent Record )

Democratic Sen. Jon Tester of Montana fended off Republican Matt Rosendale to win a third term in a red state that President Trump won by 20 percentage points in 2016, according to the Associated Press.

Tester won although Trump repeatedly traveled to Montana to boost Rosendale, the state auditor. The president said he made it a personal quest to help defeat Tester for opposing Trump’s onetime nominee to be Veterans Affairs secretary, Ronny Jackson.

Tester, a farmer and rancher, won by tacking to the center and vowing to work with Trump. He supported partial repeal of the 2010 Dodd-Frank financial law.

Indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter wins reelection in inland San Diego County district

Duncan Hunter
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) has secured a sixth term in his deep red congressional district, two months after he and his wife were indicted on charges of campaign finance violations and wire fraud.

The indictment put the normally safe Republican district into play, but first-time candidate Ammar Campa-Najjar — a 29-year-old former Obama administration employee — couldn’t overcome the 14-point Republican registration advantage.

Hunter has earned at least 56% of the vote in each of his five races. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee didn’t consider the 50th Congressional District, which stretches across east San Diego County and into Riverside County, among its top targets.

The race drew national attention after Hunter began running an ad that claimed, without proof, that Campa-Najjar was a “security risk” with ties to terrorism.

Hunter, 41, served in the U.S. Marine Corps before winning the seat previously held by his father, who represented San Diego County in Congress for 28 years. He was among the first congressmen to endorse then-candidate Donald Trump, and has hewed closely to the president on issues ranging from immigration to environmental policy.

Hunter was not the only congressman under federal indictment to win reelection on Tuesday: fellow Republican Chris Collins, indicted on charges of insider trading, eked out a fourth term in New York’s 27th Congressional District earlier in the night. Hunter, who pleaded not guilty, is next due in court on Dec. 3. Should he be found guilty and resign from Congress, there will likely be a special election.

Wisconsin’s Democratic governor-elect faces a GOP-run Legislature; Scott Walker eyes a recount

Gov.-elect Tony Evers enters a room filled with members of the news media Wednesday at the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County in Madison.
(John Hart / Wisconsin State Journal via Associated Press )

Democrat Tony Evers looked ahead to leading Wisconsin with a Republican-controlled Legislature, the first time state government has been divided in a decade, while ousted Republican Gov. Scott Walker eyed a possible recount following the state’s closest governor’s race in more than half a century.

The Evers victory, coupled with the apparent win by Democratic attorney general candidate Josh Kaul in a race too close to call, realigns the political dynamic in Wisconsin following eight years of Republican control. While Democrats had hopes of making headway in the Legislature, Republicans will remain in the majority with Evers as governor, setting up at least two years of divided government. That hasn’t happened in Wisconsin since 2008, when Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle was in office and Republicans controlled the Assembly with Democrats in charge of the Senate.

Evers declared victory early Wednesday morning, but Walker held off conceding while his campaign investigated 2,000 absentee ballots in Milwaukee that were reconstructed due to damage or errors. The city’s elections commission said the reconstruction process is routine, transparent and overseen by representatives of both political parties, election workers and the public.

With the unofficial count substantially complete, Evers led by about 31,000 votes, or 1.15 percentage points, which is just outside the margin at which a losing candidate may request a recount.

Walker’s first comment since the loss came via Twitter on Wednesday morning, when he posted a Psalm from the Bible: “This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Walker’s defeat came amid record turnout for a midterm election in Wisconsin. More than 57% of the voting-age population — nearly 2.7 million people — cast ballots in the governor’s race. Walker’s loss was driven by massive turnout in the Democratic stronghold of Dane County, home to the state capital and University of Wisconsin main campus.

But he also did worse elsewhere compared with 2014 — namely in the conservative Milwaukee suburbs that are vital for Republicans in statewide races. Those counties also came out less for President Trump in 2016 compared with Mitt Romney four years earlier.

Walker’s loss spells the end of what some called the “Cheesehead Revolution.” That described Walker, who ran for president in 2015, Rep. Paul Ryan’s ascendance to House speaker and Reince Preibus’ role as head of the Republican National Committee and, briefly, as Trump’s chief of staff.

Markets open higher after midterm election ends with no major surprises — and businesses won’t mind the gridlock

Major U.S. stock indexes opened higher Wednesday after the uncertainty of a contentious midterm election ended with the most widely expected result: a Democratic takeover of the House and Republicans retaining the Senate majority.

Despite President Trump’s contention last week that Democratic victories would lead to a stock market crash, the Dow Jones industrial average was up about 150 points, or 0.6%, on Wednesday. The broader Standard & Poor’s 500 index and the technology-heavy Nasdaq composite also were trading higher.

A divided Congress likely means gridlock in Washington for the next two years on major policy matters. That would be just fine with businesses that already have received a large tax cut and sweeping relaxation of regulations under Trump and congressional Republicans.

Read More

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in near draw with Harley Rouda in Orange County House district

Democrat Harley Rouda waits at home in Laguna Beach for the final vote tally.
(Mark Boster / For the LA Times)

Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher trailed challenger Harley Rouda by 2,682 votes with all precincts reporting early Wednesday in Orange County’s 48th Congressional District. Provisional ballots and late mail ballots still have to be counted.

If Rouda, a real estate entrepreneur, holds onto the lead, it would mark a stunning defeat for Republicans in what has long been the deepest red part of the county. Rohrabacher has held the seat for 30 years.

Dana Rohrabacher
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Former state legislator Fiona Ma elected state treasurer

Fiona Ma
(Florence Low / California Dept. of Water Resources)

Democrat Fiona Ma was elected state treasurer Tuesday in a win over Republican Greg Conlon. Conlon and Ma ran for the open seat after incumbent John Chiang, a Democrat, ran for governor and lost in the primary.

Ma is a former CPA, San Francisco supervisor and assemblywoman. Conlon is a retired CPA who has run for the seat twice before and lost both times.

The treasurer oversees the state’s investments and administers the sale of bonds and notes.

Democrat Betty Yee reelected state controller

Betty Yee
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Democrat Betty Yee won another term as state controller on Tuesday, defeating Republican challenger Konstantinos Roditis.

Yee is the officer in charge of paying the state’s bills and administering the payroll system for state workers. In her role, she is one of the state officials with the power to audit state agencies and local governments.

Roditis, of Anaheim, built his campaign around a “trickle-up taxation” proposal to radically alter the way the state collects taxes — cities and counties collect all revenue before a percentage of funds go to Sacramento. He also pledged to defund the state’s high-speed rail project.

Alex Padilla wins second term as California secretary of state

Alex Padilla
(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Secretary of State Alex Padilla was reelected Tuesday and will serve a second term, defeating Republican challenger Mark Meuser.

Padilla is a former state senator and Los Angeles City Council member from the San Fernando Valley. He spearheaded a new Motor Voter act in 2015 and a new system for online business registrations. But the new systems have had hiccups: More than 23,000 Californians were registered to vote incorrectly by the state DMV.

Meuser, an attorney, ran on a campaign to stamp out alleged voter fraud. He has claimed that some counties have more voters than people eligible to vote, though elections experts said the claims misrepresent the way the data are collected.

The secretary of state’s office oversees business and corporate filings. It also handles statewide elections and collects voter data.

Former U.S. Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis elected lieutenant governor

Eleni Kounalakis
(Steve Yeater / Associated Press)

Former U.S. Ambassador Eleni Kounalakis, was elected lieutenant governor Tuesday, defeating state Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-Azuza).

Kounalakis, a prominent Democratic Party donor, was appointed ambassador to Hungary by President Obama and has never held public office. Her father, prominent developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, has been a major source of financing for her first campaign.

Hernandez, an optometrist from the San Gabriel Valley, was first elected to the Assembly in 2006 and then the state Senate in 2010. The lieutenant governor has a seat on several state boards including the University of California Board of Regents, the California State University board of trustees and the State Lands Commission.

The officeholder’s primary function is to fill in when California’s governor is out of the state, impeached, resigns, is removed from office or in case of death. The lieutenant governor can also break a tie in the state Senate.

California voters reject proposition to give property tax break to homeowners 55 and older

Robert Holland, with his wife, Lorie, is a 63-year-old in Tujunga who supports Proposition 5.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

California voters on Tuesday rejected Proposition 5, a measure that would have offered a property tax break to homeowners 55 and older as well as the severely disabled and natural disaster victims if they move to a new home.

Under the measure, which was placed on the ballot by the California Assn. of Realtors, qualifying homeowners would no longer have to pay property taxes based on the purchase price of their new home. Instead, they would pay based on a combination of their new and old home values, lowering their property tax payment.

In potential major upset, Alex Villanueva holds slim lead over L.A. County Sheriff Jim McDonnell

Alex Villanueva, challenger for Los Angeles County Sheriff, talks with Elizabeth Yuson of Los Angeles on election night.
(Gary Coronado / Los Angeles Times)

In what could be a stunning upset, retired Sheriff’s Lt. Alex Villanueva took a narrow lead over Los Angeles County Sheriff Jim McDonnell early Wednesday. With 100% of precincts reporting, he was ahead by 4,927 votes.

Provisional ballots and late mail ballots still have to be counted.

Villanueva would be the first challenger to unseat a living incumbent sheriff in the county in more than 100 years. Villanueva, who has served in the Sheriff’s Department for three decades, took a lead despite McDonnell out-fundraising him 8 to 1. He made expelling immigration agents from the county jails a centerpiece of his platform.

After knocking on half a million doors, they wait

Katie Hill speaks to supporters at campaign night party at The Canyon in Santa Clarita
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

There was no decision, but there was “Despacito.”

In Santa Clarita, the 400 or so people who’d gathered for House candidate Katie Hill’s and Assembly candidate Christy Smith’s election-returns party kept the mood buoyant despite no sign of a decision in either race.

The party took place in a music venue in the Westfield Valencia Town Center and outlasted the shopping mall, which shuttered before California returns began rolling in.

Just before 11 p.m., Hill thanked her supporters at the party and praised the more than 5,000 campaign volunteers who knocked on half a million doors in the district.

“We’re truly in a moment where Americans are standing up, where young people are standing up, where women are standing up,” she said.

As of early Wednesday morning, the Democrat and Rep. Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) were neck and neck in the vote tally for the 25th Congressional District.

Some Senate seats and governors’ mansions remain in the balance Wednesday

Republicans held narrow leads in three Senate races that were still not called early Wednesday, leaving the size of the Republican majority in the chamber uncertain the morning after ballots were cast.

The outcome in those races could boost the Republican advantage in the Senate to as wide as 54-46, giving the party a significantly larger cushion as President Trump attempts to expand his hold on federal courts and beat back the incoming Democratic majority in the House.

Before Tuesday’s balloting, Republicans held a tight 51-49 majority in the Senate, leaving little margin for close votes, especially lifetime appointments of federal judges, which both parties see as a priority issue.

Read More

Mike Levin, leading in his bid to flip Rep. Darrell Issa’s seat to Democrats, isn’t waiting to celebrate

Democratic congressional candidate Mike Levin and and his wife Chrissy wave to supporters in Del Mar early Nov. 7 .
Democratic congressional candidate Mike Levin and and his wife Chrissy wave to supporters in Del Mar early Nov. 7 .
(Gregory Bull / Associated Press)

Leading in the vote count nearing midnight Tuesday and before the race had been called, a jubilant Mike Levin went ahead and claimed victory in the 49th Congressional District.

“We are going to win,” said Levin, an environmental attorney in Orange County, as he awaited a tally from the San Diego County registrar of voters.

In a crowded hotel ballroom in Del Mar, accompanied by his wife, Chrissy, his two children and his parents, he told several hundred enthusiastic supporters and campaign workers that it was time to celebrate.

“I am confident that thanks to you when all the votes are counted, we will have won the 49th District,” he said. “While we celebrate a great victory in the 49th District, it is not the only victory. The Democratic Party has won a victory.”

Levin was leading veteran Republican Diane Harkey, who served in the Assembly and now sits on the state Board of Equalization. They were battling to replace retired Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista), who has held the seat since 2002.

When Levin mentioned Issa’s name, a roar of boos filled the room.

“Don’t boo Darrell Issa,” Levin said. “He gave me a call tonight to congratulate me.”

In fact, Issa had predicted Levin would win in a television interview earlier Wednesday, adding to the frustration of Harkey.

Levin had collected more than three times more funding than Harkey and dedicated the bulk of it to an active field operation that covered the two-county district. Harkey complained in the closing days of the race that national Republican donors had abandoned her campaign.

The seat was going to be a tough one for Harkey to keep in the GOP fold, given the demographic changes that have brought young, educated tech industry workers to the district. And she had to battle attacks by Levin on the failed financial scheme that her husband operated that took millions of dollars from elderly investors.

The district still has more Republicans than Democrats, but a large block of independents had the ability to swing the election either way. Issa’s victory margins had been growing thinner in the last few elections, reflecting the changes to the district.

As Rohrabacher and supporters wait for results, they call his fight against a well-funded Democrat ‘Dana vs. Goliath’

Dana Rohrbacher speaks to members of the media at Skosh Monahan's in Costa Mesa on Nov. 6..
Dana Rohrbacher speaks to members of the media at Skosh Monahan’s in Costa Mesa on Nov. 6..
(Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times)

Longtime Rep. Dana Rohrabacher stood on stage at an Irish pub, next to an old surfboard that read, “Give me Liberty or Give me Surf,” and called his bid for reelection a race of “David against Goliath.”

A supporter shouted back, “Dana versus Goliath!”

Rohrabacher, a Republican who’s served in Congress for 30 years, told the supporters and volunteers at his election-night party that Democrats had spent wildly to try to defeat him.

“We’ve had billionaires coming from outside,” he said. “We’ve taken on Goliath. We’ve taken on billionaires.”

Even though his race against Democratic challenger Harley Rouda was too close to call Tuesday night, Rohrabacher told the crowd at Skosh Monahan’s, in a working-class stretch of Costa Mesa next to the 55 Freeway, that it was a night of mixed outcomes.

“I can’t say I’m pleased with the outcome in the rest of the country. We did lose control of the House,” he said. “That has to be balanced by the fact we’re going to be a lot stronger in the U.S. Senate.”

But he said he was looking forward to the results in his race: “I’m still very optimistic things are going to go my way.”

Mark Knoss, a neighbor of the bar and a Rohrabacher supporter who has campaigned for him in the past, said that if the congressman lost, it was because of his outspoken support of President Trump.

“Trump has soured me,” said Knoss, 61. “Dana two months ago started taking on Trump’s attributes.”

In California’s Central Valley, two candidates who reflect the urban-rural divide remain neck and neck

Democrat Josh Harder poses with supporters in Modesto on Nov. 6.
(Jazmine Ulloa / Los Angeles Times)

To resounding cheers and applause on Tuesday, Democratic congressional candidate Josh Harder took the stage at a downtown Modesto banquet hall and said he was proud of running a campaign that didn’t “get dragged down into the mud” but painted a brighter picture for the Central Valley.

“What we are seeing across our nation right now, in this community, is rebuke to the last two years ... rebuke to the politics of hate, of fear,” he said. “We don’t believe that. We reject that.”

If there has been any Central Valley congressional district with a shot of turning blue this election, it has been this one where Democrats hold a slight edge in registered voters and carried the last two presidential campaigns. And if there has been any candidate that supporters have believed could bridge the area’s growing urban-rural divide, it has been Harder.

The 32-year-old former venture capitalist made his return to the place where he was born and raised, galvanizing Democrats over Republican Rep. Jeff Denham’s vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Over the past days, volunteers have poured in from across the state to walk precincts and knock on doors for his campaign.

But Denham, 51, has long been a strong incumbent with wide support among farmers, veterans and white blue-collar voters. He has seized on Harder’s outside support to cast the 2018 election as a battle between the liberal values of the Bay Area and the conservative way of life of rural California.

The candidates’ reflection of their changing parties and of the Valley was captured in their campaign signs. Denham’s were large and tended to be found along long stretches of orchards and ranches. Harder’s were smaller, usually found in subdivisions encroaching on that farmland.

Those differences also were on display Tuesday at their election watch parties — Denham’s at a barn near Salida, Harder’s at a restaurant in downtown Modesto — and in the demographics of their attendees.

At Harder’s event, cumbias blasted from the speakers and the crowd was jubilant, though the race remained tight and was likely to remain uncalled for days. On stage, Harder stressed the real opponent has not been Denham but voter apathy and the belief that nothing in the country was going to change.

“It is going to be a long night,” he said. “We are going to make sure that every vote gets counted, but outside of that — we took back the House.”

With Gavin Newsom as governor, California’s battle with Trump intensifies

California cemented its role as a defiant counterweight to the federal government on Tuesday as the state’s voters elected Gavin Newsom, an enthusiastic adversary of President Trump, as their next governor.

The Democratic lieutenant governor ran an unabashedly Trump-centric campaign, one that alternated between forceful confrontation and winking sarcasm, but always framed the president — rather than Republican opponent John Cox — as his rival.

But as campaign jabs give way to governing, Newsom must weigh his combative impulses against the complications of leading a state that is home to millions of Trump supporters — and one that is interdependent with the federal government.

Read More

Trump turned the midterm election into a big show for network news

Bob Schieffer, the elder statesman of CBS News, has been part of the network’s midterm election coverage since 1970. But he was not getting into the prediction business on Tuesday night.

“I’ve never gone into one of these so unsure of what is going to happen,” he said as he prepared some notes in the green room at the CBS Broadcast Center before joining the “CBS This Morning” team to help analyze the results.

Network political teams, many of whom had been stunned by the surprise win of President Trump two years earlier, were generally cautious about predictions on who would control the House and Senate.

Read More

A new Democratic governor must decide how far he wants to lead California to the left

Few can argue with California Democrats that their sweeping victories on Tuesday are a clear mandate to set in place an agenda for the state that will last well into the next decade. Less clear, though, is what those marching orders should be — and whether voters will embrace the full panoply of demands that have lurched the state’s dominant party leftward since the election of President Trump.

No one will face that task more directly than Gov.-elect Gavin Newsom. The 51-year old Democrat, who won a resounding victory over Republican challenger John Cox, will preside not only over the nation’s largest economy, but as leader of America’s most fierce resistance to Trump and the nationalist shift of mainstream GOP politics.

But the history of how Democrats came to dominate California politics over the past quarter-century is a story less about provocation than pragmatism. The majority of the state’s modern-era governors have been Republicans. And the electorate was rarely as liberal as its national reputation — socially moderate but fiscally stingy, environmentally progressive but solidly behind get-tough-on-crime efforts.

Read More

Democrats capture Nevada Senate seat, ousting Republican who embraced Trump

Rep. Jacky Rosen
(Ethan Miller / Getty Images)

Rep. Jacky Rosen, dubbed “Wacky Jacky” by President Trump as he campaigned for Republican Sen. Dean Heller of Nevada, defeated the incumbent in a bitter race.

Heller, once a Trump critic, had allied with the president and welcomed his help, which proved a losing bet in a heavily Latino state where the president’s anti-immigration rhetoric was particularly incendiary.

Despite his defeat, John Cox predicts a Republican resurgence in California

John Cox, Republican candidate for California governor, gives his concession speech at the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego on Nov. 6.
(Howard Lipin / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Republican gubernatorial candidate John Cox conceded defeat Tuesday night but told supporters in San Diego that he predicts a resurgence of the Republican Party in California and said he’s “not going anywhere.”

“Let me tell you, this Republican Party will be back in this state,” Cox said to applause. “And our path to success is going to be based on delivering the quality of life that people need so desperately.”

Cox was met with cheers as he took the podium in the U.S. Grant Hotel’s ballroom shortly after 9:30 p.m., telling the crowd that he’d called his opponent, Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, wished him well and offered him assistance.

“We highlighted the incredible struggle that the people of this state have had for years under the people that are running this state,” Cox said. “We identified the needs of these people, the fact that they can’t afford housing, they can’t afford gasoline, they can’t afford the basics of life.”

Despite his loss, the mood in the hotel was upbeat as the crowd celebrated Republican wins in the U.S. Senate, including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s victory over challenger Rep. Beto O’Rourke. Several men in the crowd wore red “Make America Great Again” hats. One infant was decked out in a red onesie and hat with the logo.

Steve Hasty, who runs the Tri-City Tea Party in Oceanside, said he was disappointed with Cox’s loss, but that “California is so blue, it’s going to be a long shot for anyone to win.”

He may be dead, but pimp Dennis Hof wins bid for Nevada state Assembly seat

Even in death, Dennis Hof remains larger than life.

The pimp and reality television star easily cruised to victory Tuesday in his race for a seat in the Nevada state Assembly — 21 days after his death.

Hof died Oct. 16 at the Love Ranch, his brothel just outside the city of Pahrump, after being found unresponsive by male porn star Ron Jeremy following a campaign event. The Clark County coroner’s office has not released a cause of death.

Read More

Democrat Tony Evers defeats Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker

Tony Evers argued that voters were tired of divisiveness and yearned for more collegial politics.
(Steve Apps / Associated Press)

Democrat Tony Evers ousted Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Tuesday, denying the polarizing Republican and one-time presidential candidate a third term and succeeding where his party had failed in three previous attempts, including a 2012 recall.

Evers’ victory is a monumental win for Democrats and a steep fall for Walker, who just three years ago was seen as an early front-runner in the GOP primary for president. When Walker dropped out of the presidential race, he focused on rebuilding his low approval ratings in Wisconsin.

Walker had promised if he won the third term would have been his last, but voters decided that two was enough.

Evers, 67, a former teacher and state superintendent since 2009, used his folksy, nondescript personality to his advantage in the campaign, using words like “jeepers” and “holy mackerel” while arguing that voters were tired of divisiveness and yearned for more collegial politics.

The win gives Democrats a boost after President Trump narrowly carried Wisconsin by less than 1 point in 2016. It also puts Evers in position to dismantle much of what Walker and Republicans did over the past eight years, including rolling back portions of the law that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers.

Democratic voters were ecstatic about ousting Walker.

“Tony Evers provides us with a new direction that a lot of people want to go,” said Danielle Moehring, 27, a scientist from Madison.

Moehring said she thought anger over Trump was motivating people to “come out of the woodwork,” get involved and vote.

Ellen Martin, a 67-year-old retired occupational therapist from Madison, said she voted for Evers because he will “save our state, especially the environment, education.”

Martin said she thought voters in Wisconsin were tired of Walker after eight years in office.

“I never liked him,” Martin said. “He’s shamed our state, embarrassed our state, ruined our politics.”

Evers, a cancer survivor, campaigned on supporting the national health care law and its guarantees of coverage for people with preexisting conditions. He also promised to cut middle class taxes by 10 percent, paid for by all-but repealing a manufacturing and agriculture tax credit program Walker enacted. Evers is also open to raising the gas tax to pay for road repair and construction, although he hasn’t released a specific plan.

Walker, the 51-year-old son of a Baptist preacher, swept into office in 2010, part of a Republican wave that saw the GOP take over control of the state Legislature as well. With Republican partners in the Statehouse, Walker pushed through a law that effectively ended collective bargaining for teachers and most public workers.

Anger over that law led to the failed 2012 recall election. Walker’s stature among conservatives and national profile skyrocketed after the union fight and the passage of a host of Republican priorities, including making Wisconsin a right-to-work state; cutting taxes by $8 billion; implementing a voter ID law; expanding the private school voucher program statewide; freezing tuition at the University of Wisconsin; rejecting federal Medicaid expansion money under the Affordable Care Act; and restricting access to abortion.

Walker ran for president in 2015, but dropped out before any votes were cast, out of money and down in the polls. His voter approval rating in Wisconsin dropped to its lowest levels.

Last year, working closely with the Trump administration, Walker signed a deal with Taiwan-based Foxconn to build a display screen factory in the state that could result in $10 billion in investments and 13,000 jobs. He’s pointed to that as signs of the state’s economic recovery.

Evers wants to renegotiate the deal, saying the potential $4 billion in state and local tax breaks for the Taiwan-based company is too much. Evers has also vowed, on his first day in office, to withdraw Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit seeking repeal of the Affordable Care Act.

Xavier Becerra is elected to full term as California attorney general

(Rich Pedroncelli / Associated Press)

Democratic state Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra has been elected to a full term as California’s top cop, holding off a challenge from Republican Steven Bailey.

Becerra, a former congressman from Los Angeles, was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to replace the state’s former attorney general, Kamala Harris, after she was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2016.

In his time in office, Becerra has made headlines by suing the Trump administration over a number of federal policies. Bailey is a retired defense attorney and judge from El Dorado County in Northern California.

Will Hurd’s House victory in Texas appears to be in question as results show opponent has narrow lead

Abortion. Marijuana. Voting rights. A look at ballot measures across the country

Efforts to make voter registration easier. Marijuana legalization. Limits on abortion.

While the focus of Tuesday’s midterm election centered on control of Congress, voters nationwide weighed in on an array of ballot proposals. In total, voters in 37 states faced 155 ballot questions.

Here’s a look at some of those that passed .

Read More

Sen. Feinstein defeats Kevin de León to win fifth full term

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
(Alex Brandon / Associated Press)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein fended off her first significant Democratic challenger in more than two decades today, beating state Sen. Kevin de León to win a fifth full term.

De León challenged Feinstein from the left in a deep blue state that has become more hyper-partisan since President Trump took office.

Feinstein’s reputation as a moderate has always been an advantage in facing Republicans in general elections. But under California’s new top-two voting system, she faced a fellow Democrat who attacked her for not doing more to stand up to Trump.

Voters backed Feinstein this time, but some experts say De León’s politics might end up better reflecting the future of the Democratic Party in California.

De León, who served 2 1/2 years as leader of the California Senate, depended largely on retail politics, an impractical strategy in California but especially against Feinstein, who held a more than a 10-to-1 cash advantage over him.

Read More