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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.