Congressman Steve Knight (R-Palmdale) once again made it into a story by a national political outlet, but not for his leadership in Congress or any legislative accomplishment. His name almost always surfaces when political reporters look at embattled Republicans facing tough re-election races. And Knight almost always comes out as one of the most, if not the very most, vulnerable Republican in California, as he did in the most recent news piece.
The latest in-depth look at Knight comes from Roll Call, a popular political journal on Capitol Hill and among political journalists. The article almost immediately delves into some of Knight’s vulnerabilities:
Shifts in demographics and political affiliations have Democrats optimistic they can unseat Knight in a district once considered a GOP stronghold. It’s emblematic of other Democratic targets this year — a suburban seat that Hillary Clinton carried in 2016 with an increasingly diverse population.
Some operatives in both parties say the changing dynamics and Knight’s recent fundraising numbers possibly make him the most vulnerable Republican incumbent in the Golden State, especially after GOP Reps. Darrell Issa and Ed Royce decided to retire.
Knight’s fundraising numbers have been anemic. He has twice been outraised by Democratic challenger Katie Hill, which is surprising, and even embarrassing, for an incumbent politician.
“A big plus to being a political incumbent is the easy access to campaign cash,” says the San Francisco Chronicle. “But the latest federal campaign finance figures, released this week by the Federal Election Commission, suggest some targeted Republicans may be squandering that advantage.”
In April, a political reporter for Cook Political Report came up with a list of seven “risk factors” for Republican incumbents. In the entire country, only one member of Congress met all seven risk factors: Steve Knight.
Both Roll Call and Cook discuss Knight’s vote for the unpopular tax bill. As SoCal Daily previously reported, the impact of the tax bill on Knight’s residents could be painful.
In this year alone, Californians are going to pay $12 billion more in taxes, according to a recent study. In Los Angeles, homeowners could end up paying up to $76,000 more for a 30-year mortgage. The bill is wildly unpopular in California. Meanwhile, big Wall Street banks will enjoy a $19 billion kickback from the bill.
Meanwhile, despite casting votes out of line with his moderate district, Knight is confident in his re-election chances.
“People know me,” he said. “That’s really hard to beat.”
While he bragged about how often he has flown back to his district (“70 — seven zero — times last year”), Knight still manages to skip important events with constituents. When students convened a forum on gun violence, where views from across the political spectrum were discussed, Knight skipped out. In late April, Knight skipped a candidate forum with three Democrats vying to run against him, missing an opportunity to discuss tough issues with a fair-minded moderator.
For someone so universally viewed as vulnerable, Knight seems quite at ease avoiding forums where he might be asked tough questions about his short time in Congress.