If there is a “blue wave” in November that sweeps Democrats back into the majority in the House of Representatives, Southern California will be the epicenter.
According to a new CNN analysis, half of California’s 14 congressional Republicans could be replaced by Democrats in November, meaning California is “perhaps the most important battleground on the 2018 House map.”
Vulnerable Republicans are concentrated in Southern California, most residing in districts carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
With Trump’s approval rating at a dismal 29 percent in California, Republicans who have tied their fate to him face an uphill struggle with voters in November.
Palmdale’s Rep. Steve Knight is called out by CNN as particularly vulnerable. Knight was already named California’s most vulnerable incumbent by the L.A. Times, but he is now getting national attention as one of the most likely to lose his seat in November.
Despite representing a district that voted overwhelmingly for Clinton, Knight has aligned himself closely with Donald Trump and the Trump agenda. He voted repeatedly against the Affordable Care Act and was one of the crucial votes to help pass the deeply unpopular tax bill.
And Knight has been shamefully silent about DREAMers, with 2,900 in his district facing deportation.
CNN lists Knight’s district as a toss-up, but Knight’s close ties to a deeply unpopular Trump could lead to his ouster in November.
CNN also lists Rep. Dana Rohrabacher’s seat as a toss-up. Rohrabacher, Republican from Costa Mesa, has been embroiled in controversy around his deep ties to Russia and his unabashed fealty to Trump.
Rohrabacher was one of two people House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy thinks is “on Putin’s payroll.” (The other is Donald Trump.)
Rohrabacher has had lackluster fundraising in an expensive district, and the lack of rubles could correspond to a lack of enthusiasm.
Republican Rep. Mimi Walters of Irvine is also one of the L.A. Times most vulnerable incumbents, and CNN calls her out as well.
Like other GOP representatives in Southern California, Walters is struggling in an Orange County district that voted for Clinton. Walters has shown a willingness to be a mouthpiece for the Trump administration, penning a wildly misleading article about the tax bill she championed.
With more than five million Californians facing tax hikes and economists warning the tax bill could hurt California’s growing economy, Walters would rather parrot administration talking points than stand up for her constituents.
The analysis also mentions Republican reps. Dave Valadao (Hanford) and Jeff Denham (Turlock) defend districts Clinton won, bringing the total number of vulnerable Republicans in California to seven.
Nationwide, Democrats need to gain a net total of 24 seats to regain the majority in the House of Representatives, and California could deliver almost a third of them.
As CNN notes, “If a Democratic ‘wave’ is to form, the number of California pickups will be a useful gauge of its size.”