Will California decide the balance of power in Congress? 11 races to watch


Democrats are on defense as Republicans try to wrest control of the House in the Nov. 8 midterm elections. California, despite its deep-blue tilt, offers chances for both parties to flip seats.

Going into this election year, California was home to two of the nation’s most vulnerable GOP incumbents; redistricting made their districts even less favorable. Two popular Democrats were drawn into extremely tight districts, making them vulnerable if a red wave materializes.

Depending on how close the battle for the House becomes, the outcomes of those hotly contested races could determine control of Congress; at a minimum, they will influence the margin of power. Both parties are pouring tens of millions of dollars, staff and other resources into winning these contests.


Nationwide, Republicans need to pick up a net of just five seats to flip control of the House.

The nonpartisan Cook Political Report, which has tracked House and Senate races for decades, rates five California races as toss-ups and highlights six others that have drawn money and attention. Some $100 million has been booked for fall TV and radio advertising in those 11 races. This article uses the Cook ratings.

2022 California midterm election: There are 52 House races in California on Nov. 8. Look up the candidates in your congressional district here.

Nov. 3, 2022

The party that holds the White House typically loses seats in midterm elections. Until recently, analysts predicted that Democrats would face even bigger losses than usual due to President Biden’s low approval ratings, economic uncertainty and global challenges such as Russia’s war on Ukraine.

But the picture looks somewhat different now, largely because of the Supreme Court’s ruling overturning Roe vs. Wade — the landmark 1973 decision that legalized abortion across the nation. That decision changed the calculus, with many experts predicting it would galvanize young and minority voters who tend to support Democrats but typically don’t vote in large numbers in non-presidential elections. It could also sway college-educated suburban women, whose votes have been critical in recent campaigns, including in key Orange County swing districts.

Republicans in tight races are keeping relatively quiet about abortion issues, but Democrats are trying to keep them at the front of voters’ minds. A ballot measure to amend the California Constitution to enshrine abortion rights could also keep the state’s voters thinking about the issue, as could some Republicans’ promises to push a federal ban.

California has a new congressional map after losing a seat due to relatively flat population growth. Use this interactive map to explore the state’s new political boundaries.

Dec. 21, 2021

Republicans had faced difficulty keeping voters focused on Biden, as former President Trump continues to make news with the court fights over the FBI search at his Florida resort and residence, which led to the seizure of numerous classified documents. And the hearings of the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol continued to make news.

But inflation has put Democrats in tight races in California and across the nation at a disadvantage. Republicans have been blaming Democrats for high prices on food and gasoline that experts say have been exacerbated by supply chain issues and war in Ukraine.

This election takes place after the once-every-decade redrawing of congressional district lines following the U.S. census — by an independent commission, in California’s case. Despite losing a seat for the first time in history because its population didn’t grow as fast as those of other states, California will still have the nation’s largest delegation, at 52 members.

Many of the districts have been renumbered after the redrawing of maps. The party registration and demographic data in this story are for the new districts. Here are the top races to watch.



Congressional District 27

Rating: Toss-up

This northern Los Angeles County district was viewed as among the best pickup opportunities in the nation for Democrats. It includes Lancaster, Palmdale, Santa Clarita and a sliver of the city of Los Angeles, as well as more rural parts of the Antelope Valley and high desert. Once solidly Republican, the district has grown more favorable to Democrats, with its population becoming younger and more diverse as L.A. residents have moved in seeking affordable housing. Redistricting made it even bluer by excising the conservative Simi Valley.

map of California's 27th congressional district

Democrats have an advantage of 12.5 percentage points over Republicans among registered voters in the district, with 41.8% to 29.3% for the GOP. Voters who do not have a party preference make up 21.6%.

White residents make up 45% of the eligible voting-age population, while Latinos account for 33%, Black residents 11% and Asian Americans 10%. The district includes a large number of veterans and is a hub for the aerospace and defense industries.

The GOP represented much of the area in Congress for more than 25 years until 2018, when voters elected Democrat Katie Hill. She resigned in late 2019 after nude pictures of her were published without her consent amid allegations of inappropriate relationships with subordinates.


The candidates

Former state Assemblywoman Christy Smith and Republican Rep. Mike Garcia.
(Associated Press)


Mike Garcia, 46, Republican incumbent

Garcia, whose parents emigrated from Mexico, was born in the San Fernando Valley and raised in Santa Clarita. After graduating from the U.S. Naval Academy and getting a master’s degree from Georgetown University, Garcia became a Navy fighter pilot and flew more than 30 combat missions in Iraq. After his military career, he worked as an executive at the Raytheon Co. for more than a decade.

He easily won a special election to replace Hill but prevailed in the 2020 general election by just 333 votes. In both contests, he defeated Democratic former Assemblywoman Christy Smith, who is running against him again in November.

In the two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, Republican candidates have been noticeably quiet on the abortion issue.

Aug. 29, 2022

Garcia has touted his support for veterans. He has urged the repeal of a Trump-era tax measure that disproportionately hurts Californians and residents of other high-tax states. He wrote legislation that recently passed the House that would help military spouses maintain professional licenses when they move.

Garcia’s congressional record is notably conservative. He is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which would essentially ban abortion and some forms of birth control, and he signed onto a brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which it did in June.

He was one of seven California members of Congress who voted to overturn 2020 presidential election results. After a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, and paused proceedings in the certification of Biden’s win, Garcia voted against certifying Pennsylvania and Arizona’s electoral votes. He opposed the impeachment of Trump over his role in the insurrection, as well as the formation of a House committee to investigate the Capitol attack.

Christy Smith, 53, Democrat

Smith, whose father served in the Army, was born at a military hospital in Germany. Her parents moved back to the United States when she was an infant, and the family eventually settled in the Santa Clarita Valley.

After graduating from UCLA, Smith worked as a policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Education during the Clinton administration. She later served as a Newhall School District board member before being elected to the state Assembly in 2018.


The Democrat promotes successful bills she wrote while she was in the Legislature, including measures on college affordability, access to mental healthcare, education reform and compensation for victims of human trafficking. Smith, whose two pregnancies were high risk, has been an outspoken supporter of abortion rights and expanding access to healthcare.

Smith overwhelmingly beat fellow Democrat John Quaye Quartey in the top-two June primary, but only after spending a significant sum of money. As of Oct. 19, she had $625,000 in her campaign coffers, compared with Garcia’s $1.2 million, according to the most recent fundraising disclosures filed with the Federal Election Commission.

READ MORE: Garcia and Smith on abortion, Jan. 6, inflation and more

California voters see Jan. 6 as a subplot compared with issues such as abortion and the economy ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Sept. 27, 2022

Rep. Mike Garcia (R-Santa Clarita) said the Justice Department was acting “more like a Third Reich” after FBI searched Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.

Aug. 22, 2022


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Congressional District 13

13th congressional district map

Rating: Toss-up

After the redrawing of congressional maps, no incumbent chose to run in this new Central Valley district, which includes all of Merced County and parts of Fresno, Madera, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

In this district that is heavily dependent on agriculture, Latinos make up just over 50% of the population that is eligible to vote, followed by white residents, at 37%; Asian Americans, at 6%; and Black residents, at 4%.

In this Central Valley congressional battleground, Democrats praise the Jan. 6 investigation while Republicans tune out or turn thumbs down.

July 28, 2022

Though Democrats have an over 14-percentage-point edge in voter registration over the GOP — 42.8%, compared with 28.4% for Republicans and 21.5% claiming no party preference — low turnout among Democrats and Latinos, as well as the independent nature of politics in the Central Valley, have made races tighter here.

The district is home to the newest University of California campus, Merced. Water, healthcare, jobs and public safety are key issues.


The candidates

A man in a suit and tie in a photo on the left. And a man in a blue shirt with "John Duarte" in an image on the right.
Democratic Assemblyman Adam Gray, left, and Republican businessman John Duarte.
(Associated Press)


Adam Gray, 45, Democrat

Born and raised in Merced, Gray attended community college, working at his family’s dairy supply store to pay the way, then earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from UC Santa Barbara. He started his career in politics by working as a staffer for lawmakers and has lectured on the state Legislature at UC Merced.

In 2012, he was elected to the state Assembly, where he represents much of the northern half of the new congressional district. He has challenged the state water board, including plans to divert water around the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and send it to Southern California in what he calls the “state water grab.” Gray called this year for an audit of California’s water agencies.

He has also advocated for the creation of a medical school at UC Merced to increase the number of healthcare workers in the valley. Gray points to his work as a founding member of the bipartisan California Problem Solvers Foundation in the Assembly and says he can continue to reach across the aisle in Congress. Gray says he supports abortion rights and voted in favor of putting a constitutional amendment before voters to further codify the state’s already progressive reproductive rights.

Gray’s campaign, which is anchored in water rights, improving education and bolstering public safety, has raised $2 million, according to the most recent fundraising disclosures filed with the FEC. His campaign had about $274,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19.

John Duarte, 56, Republican

Duarte, a fourth-generation farmer from Modesto, grows almonds, pistachios and grapes through his family’s Duarte Nursery, one of the biggest in the country.


The Republican got the attention of conservatives when he fought the federal government over accusations — by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and, later, the Environmental Protection Agency — that he violated the Clean Water Act by damaging wetlands to plant wheat in Northern California. After a years-long battle, a judge ruled that Duarte had broken the law. Facing potentially massive fines, Duarte settled and paid $1.1 million.

Duarte is leaning into his family’s history and knowledge of the San Joaquin Valley to promote his campaign. In addition to protecting the valley’s water, he says he wants to help lower the cost of living in the area. Duarte has not said where he stands on the abortion debate on his campaign website or social media accounts. His campaign did not respond to requests for comment.

Duarte has also raised $2 million — including a $240,000 donation and a $200,000 loan of his own funds — and had about $241,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

READ MORE: Gray and Duarte on abortion, inflation and Central Valley water wars

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Congressional District 22

22nd congressional district map

Rating: Toss-up

This San Joaquin Valley district, which includes portions of Kern, Kings and Tulare counties, is considered one of the nation’s most competitive. Democrats see it as a prime chance to defeat a Republican incumbent after redistricting added more blue-leaning voters from Bakersfield and Porterville and created a 17.4-percentage-point voter registration advantage over the GOP.

Democrats account for 43.4% of registered voters in the district, with Republicans at 26% and 22.7% having no party preference. The heavily agricultural area had already tilted blue in terms of voter registration, but for years sent GOP representatives to Washington, in part because of low turnout among Democrats and the independent nature of Central Valley politics.

In 2018, Democratic challenger TJ Cox ousted Republican Rep. David Valadao, who returned the favor two years later. (Cox was recently indicted after allegations that he stole from his own companies and used some of the money for illegal campaign donations.)

Latinos make up the largest citizen voting-age population, at 59%, with whites at 29%, Black residents at 6% and Asian Americans at 4%.

Economic issues, broadband access and, of course, water, are among the top concerns here.



The candidates

Democratic state Assemblyman Rudy Salas, left, and Republican Rep. David Valadao.
(Associated Press)

David Valadao, 45, Republican incumbent

Valadao is one of 10 House Republicans — and the only GOP Californian — who voted to impeach Trump for his role in the Jan. 6 insurrection. He and only one other survived their primaries. The importance of his reelection to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s goal to become speaker, along with Trump’s silence in the race, helped shield Valadao from some of the acrimony over the impeachment votes.

The son of Portuguese immigrants from the Azores, Valadao was born and raised in Hanford, the Kings County seat. He became a partner in his father’s dairy and farm business and worked with industry groups such as the California Milk Advisory Board and the Western States Dairy Trade Assn. He was elected to the state Assembly in 2010 and after one term was elected to Congress, where he served from 2013 to 2019. Cox defeated him in 2018 by 862 votes; two years later, Valadao won a rematch.

In the two months since the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, Republican candidates have been noticeably quiet on the abortion issue.

Aug. 29, 2022

Valadao is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, a bill that seeks “equal protection for the right to life of each born and preborn human person” from the moment of “fertilization, cloning, or other moment at which an individual member of the human species comes into being.” He signed a brief asking the Supreme Court to end federal protections for abortion. Valadao supports a path to citizenship for undocumented people whose parents brought them to the U.S. as children. He also backed a bill that would federally protect interracial and same-sex marriages.

He has raised $3 million this election cycle and had $795,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to the latest FEC filings.

Rudy Salas, 45, Democrat

Salas grew up picking grapes in the Central Valley fields with his father before attending UCLA. After graduating with bachelor’s degrees in political science and history, the Bakersfield native worked at the White House for Vice President Al Gore. He later returned to California as a counselor for Upward Bound and the College Assistance Migrant Program at Cal State Bakersfield, which helps students with farmworking backgrounds transition to college.

In 2010, Salas became the first Latino elected to the Bakersfield City Council. Two years later, he won a seat in the state Assembly, where he voted for a landmark bill that provided farmworkers overtime pay, and he helped secure state funding for new water wells and cultural centers in the valley. He has also served as co-chair of the New Democrats, a group that typically aligns with business interests.

Salas has come under fire from environmentalists for accepting money from the oil industry, and he has received low scores from nonprofit environmental organizations such as the California League of Conservation Voters.


Salas said he believes abortion decisions should be left to women and their doctors. He co-sponsored Proposition 1, a constitutional amendment on the ballot Nov. 8, which would explicitly protect the right to an abortion in California.

Salas has raised $2.5 million this election cycle and had $429,000 on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

READ MORE: Salas and Valadao on immigration, abortion, agriculture and more


Congressional District 47

47th congressional district map

Rating: Toss-up

This affluent Orange County district spans from Seal Beach to part of Laguna Beach and includes the inland cities of Costa Mesa, Irvine — including the UC campus there — and parts of Laguna Hills and the retirement community of Laguna Woods.

Democrats have a scant 1.7-percentage-point voter registration edge over Republicans in the district, with 35.6% to the GOP’s 33.9%; no-party-preference voters account for 24.6%.

White residents make up 64% of eligible voters; Asian Americans, 19%; Latinos, 14%; and Black residents, 2%.



The candidates

Katie Porter and Scott Baugh smile in separate photos.
Democratic Rep. Katie Porter and Republican attorney Scott Baugh.

Katie Porter, 48, Democratic incumbent

Porter, who is on unpaid leave from her post as a UC Irvine law professor, has drawn national attention among liberals since being elected to Congress in 2018.

Her popularity has been driven by her sharp questioning of corporate CEOs and government leaders during congressional hearings — a whiteboard and marker her ubiquitous props — and her identity as a minivan-driving single mom.

Porter has money and fame, but Republican Scott Baugh is betting on Orange County’s traditional conservatism to flip her House seat.

Nov. 1, 2022

In her reelection bid, Porter touts her efforts to fight special interests and advocate for consumers, homeowners and middle-class families. She opposes oil drilling and supports reproductive rights.

Porter has raised $23 million this election cycle, making her the third-largest fundraiser in the House, behind only Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Bakersfield) and Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-San Francisco). She had $8.9 million cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to the FEC. Pundits widely expect Porter to run for Sen. Dianne Feinstein’s seat once it opens.

Scott Baugh, 60, Republican

Baugh, a Huntington Beach attorney, served in the California Assembly from 1995 to 2000 and was chairman of the Orange County Republican Party from 2004 to 2015.

Among Baugh’s congressional priorities are supporting charter schools, allowing parents to use public funds to send their children to private schools, opposing so-called sanctuary cities and citizenship for people who intentionally violated immigration laws and reducing government regulations on business. His campaign website says he opposes drilling off California’s coast.

In media interviews, Baugh has said he opposes abortion and same-sex marriage.


In 2018, Baugh ran against his onetime mentor, GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, arguing that the longtime congressman was ineffective and highlighting his support of Russia. Baugh came in fourth in the nonpartisan primary, though Rohrabacher ultimately lost his seat.

Though Porter has an enormous financial advantage in the race, Baugh was able to raise $2.5 million because of his close ties with Orange County’s wealthy GOP donor community. He had $410,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19.

In 1999, Baugh agreed to pay a civil fine of $47,900 for nine violations of the state Political Reform Act stemming from misconduct allegations in his 1995 election to the Assembly.

READ MORE: Porter and Baugh on abortion, inflation, immigration and more

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Congressional District 49

49th congressional district map

Rating: Toss-up

This coastal district straddles Orange and San Diego counties, stretching from Laguna Beach to Del Mar and encompassing Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton and the closed San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, where spent radioactive fuel rods are stored because there is no federal repository for nuclear waste.

The environment, gas prices, tourism and veterans’ needs are prominent issues in the region.

The Democratic voter registration edge over the GOP is a slim 3.1 percentage points. Still, Biden won here in 2020 by more than 11 points. The district did not change dramatically during the 2020 redistricting, retaining 90% of its prior residents. Democrats make up 36.4% of the district’s voters, Republicans 33.3% and no-party-preference voters 23%. Cook Political Report in late October changed the race rating from “lean Democratic” to “toss-up.”

Among the district’s eligible voters, white residents account for 68%, Latinos 20%, Asian Americans 7% and Black residents 3%.

The election is a rematch of the 2020 race between incumbent Rep. Mike Levin and former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott, who live in the same city and attend the same church.



The candidates

Democratic Rep. Mike Levin, left, and Republican former San Juan Capistrano Mayor Brian Maryott.

Mike Levin, 44, Democratic incumbent

The environmental attorney, the son of a Mexican American mother and a Jewish father, was born in Inglewood and raised in Lake Forest.

Just days ahead of the midterm elections, President Biden spent Thursday campaigning for Democratic candidates in California and New Mexico.

Nov. 4, 2022

Levin worked in the clean-energy field before being elected in 2018 to the House, where his priorities have included supporting zero-emission vehicles and banning new drilling off the Southern California coast. He has also focused on moving the spent nuclear fuel rods stored at San Onofre out of the area. He called the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe vs. Wade “appalling” and co-sponsored a bill that would codify protections for abortion.

He has raised $4.7 million this election cycle and had $1 million in the bank as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

Brian Maryott, 59, Republican

The former San Juan Capistrano mayor lost to Levin in the 2020 congressional race by 6 percentage points, and also ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 2018. He is a certified financial planner who was a senior vice president at Wells Fargo Advisors.

Among Maryott’s priorities if elected to Congress are increasing competition in the insurance and health provider markets and calling for term limits for elected officials. He opposes new drilling off California’s coastline and acknowledges climate change but says the state and the nation are moving too quickly to eliminate the use of fossil fuels. Maryott calls for energy independence, including the use of fracking and “clean coal.” After the Supreme Court overturned Roe vs. Wade, he tweeted that it was “a historic day” and that the “unconstitutional reign of judicially imposed federal law on abortion has ended.”

Maryott reported raising $4.5 million through Oct. 19, more than half of which he provided his campaign in donations and loans, according to FEC filings. He had $427,000 cash on hand.


READ MORE: Levin and Maryott on abortion, environment, inflation and more

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Congressional District 41

41st congressional district map

Rating: Leans Republican

This longtime Republican Riverside County district is now competitive — and nearly evenly split between GOP and Democratic voters.

The area has grown less conservative in recent decades, in part because of an influx of young and minority families seeking affordable housing. Redistricting, which added Democratic and LGBTQ voters, accelerated the trend. Democrats make up 36.7% of the district’s voters, to Republicans’ 36.2%; no-party-preference voters account for 19.5%.

Though the district retained more than two-thirds of its former constituents, it now covers a swath of the Coachella Valley, including one of the largest concentrations of LGBTQ voters in the United States. Palm Springs, as well as Palm Desert, La Quinta and Rancho Mirage, were drawn into the district. It retained Menifee, Lake Elsinore and Norco; solidly GOP areas, such as Temecula and Murrieta, were excised.

White residents make up 56% of the citizens of voting age, Latinos, 30%; Asian Americans, 7%; and Black residents, 6%.



The candidates

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

Ken Calvert, 69, Republican incumbent

Calvert, the longest-serving GOP member of California’s congressional delegation, was first elected to represent the Inland Empire in Congress in 1992.

Supporters laud the Corona native’s ongoing presence and accessibility in the district, as well as his work to secure funding for regional priorities, including transportation and flood-control projects, infrastructure upgrades and the area’s military facilities. He was also the author of legislation that created the E-Verify system, which employers can use to check the immigration status of new hires.


His tenure is not without controversy. In 1993, police caught Calvert with a prostitute in his car; he was not charged and later acknowledged the incident. The following year, during Calvert’s reelection campaign, one of his allies outed his Democratic rival as gay, and Calvert’s campaign sent voters pink-and-purple mailers implying that his opponent’s sexuality disqualified him from representing the region.

Calvert voted for the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which allowed states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages, and against the repeal of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy regarding gay service members. He points out that his views were held by most politicians at the time. This year, he voted for the Respect for Marriage Act, which would repeal the 1996 act, and says the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage should stand.

Calvert has said he doesn’t support a national ban on abortion and that the matter should be left to the states. He has said he believes women should have the right to abortion in cases of rape, incest or if their health is jeopardized by the pregnancy, and that he opposes third-trimester abortions.

In the hours after a pro-Trump mob attacked the Capitol, Calvert voted against certifying the electoral college votes of Arizona and Pennsylvania, but he has acknowledged that Biden legitimately won the election. Calvert, who has been endorsed by Trump, voted against impeaching him for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Calvert has raised $3.4 million this election cycle, and had $731,000 in the bank as of Oct. 19, according to filings with the FEC.


Rep. Ken Calvert, who has opposed gay rights and once attacked an opponent for being gay, is facing a challenge from a gay Democrat in a newly competitive district.

July 14, 2022

Will Rollins, 38, Democrat

Rollins says he became interested in public service after seeing the World Trade Center collapse on Sept. 11, 2001, when he was a high school junior in the South Bay. He wanted to join the military after the terrorist attacks, but at the time was living as a closeted gay man, he said, and feared being outed.

Rollins became an attorney and went to work for the national security division at the Justice Department, focusing on counterintelligence and domestic terrorism cases in Southern California. His portfolio included the prosecution of Jan. 6 insurrectionists.

He is among the few Democratic congressional candidates making the Capitol siege central in their campaigns, saying that the insurrection and Calvert’s votes to throw out electoral votes for two states that backed Biden are among the reasons he decided to leave his job last year and run. He also prioritizes fighting disinformation and polarization; protecting reproductive, voting and LGBTQ rights; and working to address climate change and bring green energy jobs to Riverside County. He called the Supreme Court’s stripping of federal protection for abortion “horrifying” and supports codifying reproductive rights.

The Calvert campaign aims to portray Rollins as a carpetbagger, noting that he first voted in Riverside County in June. Rollins grew up in Manhattan Beach and was registered to vote in Los Angeles County from 2003 to 2021. He moved to Palm Springs this year from Canyon Lake, which is also in the district.


Rollins raised $3.4 million and had $755,000 in the bank on Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

READ MORE: Calvert and Rollins on on Jan. 6, LGBTQ rights and polarization

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Congressional District 45

45th congressional district map

Rating: Leans Republican

This competitive district straddling Orange and Los Angeles counties was created to empower Asian American voters. Centered on the Vietnamese community of Little Saigon, the inland district includes the cities of Artesia, Cerritos and Westminster.

GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s campaign doctored images to make Democratic rival Jay Chen appear to be a communist sympathizer.

Sept. 30, 2022

Asian Americans represent 37% of the district’s potential voters; white residents account for 36%; Latinos, 23%; and Black residents, 3%.

The district is the focus of an increasingly intense competition between a Korean American incumbent and a Taiwanese American rival.

GOP Rep. Michelle Steel opted to run here after her Seal Beach home was drawn into the same district as Democratic Rep. Katie Porter during the decennial redrawing of congressional district lines. (Members of Congress are not required to live in their districts.)

Democrats have a voter-registration edge, with 37.8% to Republicans’ 32.2%; no-party-preference voters account for 24.5%. Biden won the district by more than 6 percentage points. Still, the June primary results show that Republican candidates are competitive in the district: Steel received 48% of the vote, Democratic rival Jay Chen received 43%, and a little-known Republican received nearly 9%.



The candidates

Democratic Navy Reserve officer Jay Chen and Republican Rep. Michelle Steel.
(Tom Zasadzinski)

Michelle Steel, 67, Republican incumbent

Steel was born in Seoul and raised in South Korea, Japan and the United States.

Long active in GOP politics, Steel won a seat on the state Board of Equalization in 2006 and served eight years at the tax agency. She was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2014 and to Congress in 2020. She was one of the first three Korean American women elected to the House.

The race between Rep. Michelle Steel and Jay Chen in a congressional district drawn to empower Asian Americans now features charges of racism, sexism and red-baiting.

April 29, 2022

In Congress, Steel has been a fiscal and social conservative. She voted against a bill that would prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, signed an amicus brief supporting the overturning of Roe vs. Wade and opposed legislation that would require the federal government to recognize same-sex marriage. She is a co-sponsor of the Life at Conception Act, which as written would ban abortion with no exceptions. Steel has said recently that she supports exceptions to bans in cases of rape, incest or threats to a woman’s health.

Steel did not vote on the certification of the 2020 presidential election because she had COVID-19. She voted against impeaching Trump for inciting the Jan. 6 insurrection.

Her campaign has sent out Vietnamese-language mailers doctored to try to smear her opponent as a pro-China communist sympathizer, a tactic similar to one she used in 2020 against a different Democrat. Her campaign has also released a misleading ad in the same vein. Chen has called the attacks “absurd” and pointed out that his grandmother fled communist China and that he holds a top-secret security clearance for his work as an intelligence officer in the military.

The incumbent has raised $6.8 million and had $1 million in the bank as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

Jay Chen, 44, Democrat

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Chen is a Navy Reserve intelligence officer who served on the Korean Peninsula and in the Middle East. He is a member of the Board of Trustees for Mt. San Antonio Community College and previously served on the Hacienda La Puente Unified School District Board of Education for eight years. He has worked as a management consultant and owned a local real estate business.


Chen says his priorities in Congress include making healthcare more affordable, increasing the size of small business loans and improving treatment of veterans. On reproductive rights, he supports codifying federal protection for abortions, saying healthcare decisions should be made “between a woman and her doctor, not by politicians.”

He unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2012 and withdrew from a 2018 congressional race because of Democratic concerns of splitting the vote.

Chen has raised $4.5 million and had $429,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

READ MORE: Steel and Chen on abortion, immigration and healthcare

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Congressional District 9

9th congressional district map

Rating: Leans Democratic

This district centered on Stockton has a nearly 15.1-percentage-point voter registration edge for Democrats, even after losing the heavily Democratic Contra Costa County cities of Brentwood and Oakley in redistricting.

San Joaquin County makes up the majority of the district; agriculture is the top industry, but the area is also home to those commuting into tech-heavy cities in the Bay Area.

Democrats make up 43.4% of registered voters here, compared with 28.4% for Republicans and 20.5% claiming no party preference.

The district’s citizen voting-age population is mostly white, at 43%, followed by 31% Latino, 15% Asian American and about 9% Black.



The candidates

Democratic Rep. Josh Harder, left, and Republican San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti.
Democratic Rep. Josh Harder, left, and Republican San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti.
(Associated Press)

Josh Harder, 36, Democratic incumbent

With redistricting breaking up his current district, Harder announced his run in the new 13th, then pivoted to the new 9th District after the incumbent Democrat there announced he would not seek reelection.

Harder moved to the city of Tracy earlier this year, which is within the boundaries of the new district, and he points to his family’s history in Manteca, where his great-great-grandfather settled and started a peach farm.

The congressman, who was born and raised in the San Joaquin Valley, graduated from Stanford and Harvard Business School and worked as an executive of a Silicon Valley venture capital firm before returning in 2017 to run for Congress. In 2018, he unseated Republican Jeff Denham, who had represented the area for years.


Harder has worked on local issues such as water access and storage, as well as healthcare. He once waded through wetlands in Los Banos with California Department of Fish and Wildlife officials to learn how nutrias, a type of swamp rat, were damaging the Central Valley’s levees and ecosystem. He has also focused on lowering the cost of prescription drugs and bringing agricultural technology and IT jobs to the valley. He supports abortion rights and recently voted in favor of the Women’s Health Protection Act and Ensuring Access to Abortion Act.

He has raised $6.2 million this election cycle and had $3 million cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

Tom Patti, 59, Republican

Patti serves on the San Joaquin County Board of Supervisors and helped launch a housing project for veterans and secured funding for a community college’s apprentice program. Patti owns his family’s Delta Crane equipment company.

The Stockton resident has been vocal in his opposition to vaccine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. He helped pass a board resolution prohibiting county offices from requiring people to show vaccine proof to gain entry and lauded In-N-Out Burger for “fighting against bullies” after Contra Costa County shut a restaurant down for not checking customers’ vaccination status.

Patti said in a text message that his personal opinion on abortion is “irrelevant” but that he believes “a woman has a right to choose her own reproductive health choices” and that women and their doctors “sometimes need to make very difficult decisions and I understand and support that.” Patti did not answer if he would vote to codify Roe but said he would not vote for a federal abortion ban. In a phone interview, Patti said he would follow the “will of the voters” and believes limits should be set on late-term abortions.


In 2018, Patti was arrested after a collision on Interstate 5. San Joaquin Superior Court records show he was originally charged with a misdemeanor DUI in the accident, in which there were no injuries. The state attorney general’s office amended the criminal complaint to a reckless-driving misdemeanor, and Patti, who said he accidentally took the wrong medication, pleaded no contest. Records show he was sentenced to conditional probation for one year.

A former amateur boxer who trained with Mike Tyson, Patti won state and Golden Gloves championships and considered a pro career in the 1980s. Tyson appeared last year at a Beverly Hills fundraiser for Patti.

Patti has raised $1.3 million and had $454,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.

READ MORE: Harder and Patti on abortion, the economy, homelessness

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Congressional District 26

Rating: Leans Democratic

Largely based in Ventura County with a sliver of Los Angeles County, the 26th Congressional District includes Agoura Hills, Calabasas, Moorpark, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Simi Valley and Thousand Oaks.

Democrats have a significant edge in voter registration — 43.2% of the district’s registered voters identify with the party. Republicans make up 28.5% of voters, while 21% express no party preference. President Biden won the district by 20 points.

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Still, it’s less friendly territory for Rep. Julia Brownley, the Democratic incumbent, following the once-every-decade redrawing of district maps following the U.S. Census. She lost Ventura, the Democratic stronghold in her existing district, and gained the conservative-leaning Simi Valley, home of the Ronald Reagan library. The Cook Political Report this month changed the race rating from “solid Democratic” to “lean Democratic.”

White people account for 55.9% of citizens of voting age in the district, Latinos 31.5%, Asian Americans 8.7% and Black residents 2.4%.

Agriculture and veterans’ services are among the top issues in the region.



The candidates

Rep. Julia Brownley, left, and Matt Jacobs in side-by-side photos.
Democratic Rep. Julia Brownley and Republican Matt Jacobs.
(Associated Press)

Julia Brownley, 70, Democratic incumbent

Raised in Virginia, Brownley earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from George Washington University and a master’s in business administration from American University.

Brownley worked for furniture manufacturing, design and marketing companies, and was later a stay-at-home mother for her two children before running for office.

She has since spent nearly three decades in elected posts. Brownley served on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District from 1994 to 2006 and as a member of the state Assembly from 2006 until 2012, when she was first elected to Congress.


The congresswoman touts her focus on veterans’ issues, notably a successful effort to increase the number of healthcare providers and to expand a local veterans’ clinic by seven times as well as work to provide appropriate mental and physical care for female veterans.

Brownley consistently votes with the Biden administration, slammed the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe vs. Wade and is a staunch supporter of rights to abortion and same-sex marriage.

She also points to federal money she has brought back to the district for projects including millions of dollars to modernize and dredge a deeper berth at the Port of Hueneme. The work will enable the port to accommodate heavier container vessels, which would help in a future supply-chain crisis, Brownley said.

Matt Jacobs, 38, Republican

The grandson of a World War II veteran and Holocaust survivors, Jacobs was raised in Thousand Oaks. He earned an undergraduate degree from UCLA, a master’s in public affairs from Princeton University and a law degree from New York University.


Jacobs was a well-regarded federal prosecutor who investigated and prosecuted terrorists, sex traffickers and drug dealers. He stepped down in 2021.

He says that he would support common-sense policies to reduce regulations, taxes and the federal deficit. Jacobs also says he would support law enforcement, school choice and charter schools.

Jacobs said he supports the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe vs. Wade because he believes the matter should be decided by the states; he said he would not support a federal abortion ban. He said he supports allowing abortion in the cases of rape, incest or the health of the mother, but repeatedly declined to disclose his position on overall abortion rights.

Jacobs has raised $2.4 million as of Oct. 19, compared with Brownley’s $2.1 million. But the incumbent had $1.9 million in the bank compared with Jacobs’ $302,000. Outside groups have begun spending money on the race.

READ MORE: Your guide to California’s Congressional District 26 race: Rep. Julia Brownley vs. Matt Jacobs

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Congressional District 3

3rd congressional district map

Rating: Likely Republican

This mostly rural district covers a huge swath of the state — stretching from the tip of Lassen Volcanic National Park south through Mammoth Lakes to Death Valley, and from the Nevada border to the Eastern Sierra. It also includes some Sacramento suburbs.

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Protecting undeveloped land and natural landmarks is crucial to voters, and tourism is vital to the area. Wildfires have devastated parts of the district and harmed tourism and health. The destruction often leaves families seeking assistance with temporary housing and rebuilding costs. In the town of Grizzly Flats, a fire destroyed about two-thirds of the housing stock and the water system.

This district strongly leans right. Republicans lead in registered voters with 38% to Democrats’ 33.3%.; voters with no party preference make up 19.6%.

Republican Rep. Tom McClintock left the seat open when he announced that he would run in a neighboring district.

The citizen voting-age population is about 80% white; Latinos make up 10%, Asian Americans 6% and Black residents 2%.



The candidates

Dr. Kermit Jones, Kevin Kiley
Navy veteran and physician Dr. Kermit Jones, a Democrat, left, and Republican state Assemblyman Kevin Kiley.

Dr. Kermit Jones, 46, Democrat

Jones grew up on his family’s farm in Michigan before earning law and medical degrees from Duke University. After the Sept. 11 attacks, he joined the Navy as a flight surgeon for a Marine helicopter squadron in Iraq. Afterward, he got a master’s degree in public administration and served for a year as a White House fellow in the Obama administration, working with the secretary of Health and Human Services on improving care for veterans.

Jones, who moved to California in 2017, lives in Woodland with his family but rents a home in Roseville, where he plans to live full-time if elected.

One of Jones’ top issues is reforming the healthcare system. His family struggled financially when his mother was denied specialized treatment for Stage 4 lung cancer, and the cost for her care eventually led them to sell the farm, according to his campaign’s website. He also sees a need to improve broadband infrastructure in his district, specifically within the Sierra Nevada area. He said he plans to work with Republican colleagues to create a federal fire insurance plan for every eligible household in the country.


Jones said he supports federal protection for abortion access and that bans on the procedure go against “American principles of self-determination.”

He has raised $2.9 million and had about $243,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to the most recent fundraising disclosures filed with the FEC.

Kevin Kiley, 37, Republican

Raised by a physician and a special education teacher in the Sacramento suburbs, Kiley taught English at an L.A. high school through the Teach for America program after graduating from Harvard. He later attended Yale Law School and returned to California to work at a law firm, where he helped prepare an intellectual property theft case for T-Mobile against Huawei, a Chinese technology company. He left private practice to serve as a state deputy attorney general.

The Rocklin resident was elected to the California Assembly in 2016. Last year, he ran as a candidate in the failed election to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom and placed sixth in the crowded field. Early in the pandemic, Kiley voted to allow Newsom to spend up to $1 billion on the response. But he later sued the governor, saying Newsom had overstepped his authority when he used an executive order under the Emergency Services Act to expand mail voting. The courts upheld Newsom’s emergency powers.

Campaign ads mention Kiley aiming to “secure the border” and opposing COVID-19 mandates. He has refused to acknowledge that Biden won the 2020 election and received Trump’s endorsement before the June primary. The assemblyman voted against placing a constitutional amendment on the ballot to explicitly protect abortion rights in California and has voted against other measures related to abortion rights. He was endorsed by the antiabortion California ProLife Council, a state affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee.

Kiley has raised $2.7 million this election cycle and had $600,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.


READ MORE: Jones and Kiley on on immigration, abortion and fires

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Congressional District 40

40th congressional district map

Rating: Likely Republican

This affluent, suburban, Republican district is largely based in Orange County but has fingers into Corona, in Riverside County, and Chino Hills, in San Bernardino County. It also includes Aliso Viejo, Lake Forest, Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Tustin and Villa Park.

Republicans have a 4.3-percentage-point voter registration advantage over Democrats in the district, though Biden won it by 1.6 percentage points. Nearly 37.9% of the district’s voters are Republicans, 33.6% are Democrats and 22.7% have no party preference.

More than 6 of 10 residents who are citizens of voting-age population are white. Latinos account for 19%, people of Asian descent 17% and Black residents 2%.

Though Republican Rep. Young Kim, who lives just outside the district’s boundaries in La Habra, is running as the incumbent, this district was among the most changed in the redrawing of maps; she has not represented four-fifths of the voters who live here. Members of Congress are not required to live in the districts they represent.



The candidates

Young Kim, Asif Mahmood.
Republican Rep. Young Kim and Dr. Asif Mahmood, a Democrat.
(Los Angeles Times)

Young Kim, 60, Republican incumbent

Kim, who was born in South Korea, was one of the first three Korean American women elected to Congress in 2020. She previously served in the state Assembly for two years and unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018. The USC graduate worked for more than two decades for Rep. Ed Royce, a former longtime member of Congress from Orange County.

The voters in Kim’s new district are more conservative and less diverse than her current constituents. Her message — once focused on her bipartisan appeal — has shifted to the right, notably on immigration. Before the June primary, Kim’s ads told voters to “Vote Conservative. Vote Kim.” Her campaign’s texts touted her support for securing the border, including “Keeping Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy.”

Kim handily won a spot on the November ballot after she and national GOP groups spent millions in the primary against a little-known Republican whose effort was propped up by Democrats who viewed him as an easier target in November. Though Kim had raised $8.2 million for her reelection bid as of Oct. 19, she ended the period with $769,000 in the bank, according to FEC filings.


Kim, who says abortion matters should be “largely left to the states,” has an A rating from Susan B. Anthony Pro-Life America, a politically powerful antiabortion group. Kim broke with the majority of GOP members of Congress by voting to certify the 2020 electoral votes from Pennsylvania; she missed the vote on Arizona because she was waiting for the results of a COVID test. Kim had said in a statement before Congress convened that she would not support an effort to challenge Biden’s victory in the presidential race: “The Constitution does not give Congress the authority to overturn elections.” She voted against impeaching Trump for his role in the insurrection.

Dr. Asif Mahmood, 61, Democrat

Mahmood was raised in rural Pakistan and became the first student from his village to attend medical school. After receiving his degree in 1987, Mahmood completed his residency at the University of Kentucky and moved to Southern California in 1999. He has said his life has been guided by a principle taught by his parents: that helping others is the highest calling. He says he has exemplified this tenet by not asking for payment from patients who don’t have insurance.

The pulmonologist unsuccessfully ran for state insurance commissioner in 2018. If elected to Congress, Mahmood says, his priorities would include reducing inflation and the cost of living, creating jobs and improving the nation’s infrastructure.

Mahmood says overhauling the nation’s healthcare system is crucial. He said he would focus on strengthening the Affordable Care Act, lowering the cost of prescription drugs and lowering the age of Medicare eligibility to 50. He supports codifying Roe vs. Wade as federal law and says he wants to expand reproductive healthcare.

Mahmood has raised $3 million and had $147,000 cash on hand as of Oct. 19, according to FEC filings.


READ MORE: Kim and Mahmood on abortion, inflation, immigration and more

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About this story

Data in this story were drawn from the California Target Book, Political Data Intelligence, the Federal Election Commission and AdImpact.