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Can A Pro-Choice Proposition On The Ballot In California Help Struggling Democratic Candidates?

Conservatives Mike Garcia and Christy Smith-- she's terrible; he's worse

Largely because of redistricting, California has 11 congressional districts in serious contention between Democrats and Republicans, more than any other state in the union— and depending how you define “serious,” more than any two states combined! These are the districts:

  • CA-03, a new district northeast of Sacramento that includes much of the state that abuts Nevada and has an R+8 partisan lean. Republican Kevin Kiley leads Democrat Kermit Jones.

  • CA-09, in the northern Central Valley, is in the suburbs south of Sacramento and San Francisco exurbs and has a D+8 partisan lean. Josh Harder moved there once Jerry McNerney announced he is retiring and is likely to beat Republican Tom Patti.

  • CA-13 would have been Harder’s district and it’s just to the south of his new district and goes all the way down into rural precincts west and southwest of Fresno. The partisan lean is D+7 and Democrat Adam Gray, one ion the most conservative and corrupt members of the state legislature is likely to beat Republican John Duarte.

  • CA-22 includes most of the southern part of the Central Valley and went from a D+9 partisan lean to a D+10 partisan lean. Republican incumbent David Valadao is likely to lose to Democrat Rudy Salas, who is just as conservative and just as corrupt as Gray, another piece of walking garbage from the state Assembly on his way to make Congress worse.

  • CA-23 is a San Bernardino and High Desert new district where Trumpist McCarthy stooge Jay Obernolte is trying to fend off a challenge from progressive Derek Marshall, the best of the California challengers this cycle.

  • CA-27 should be a safe blue district but the Democraps insist on nominating an unelectable conservative as their candidate, Christy Smith. She already lost 3 times and could actually lose this D+8 seat again. FiveThirtyEight’s forecast shows her losing to Republican incumbent Mike Garcia 50.3% to 49.7%. If the Democrats fail to pick up this seat it will be completely their own fault for always backing conservatives over progressives.

  • CA-40 is Young Kim’s new district and it went from D+6 to R+4 so she should be pretty safe.

  • CA-41 is Kevin Calvert’s district that got a lot less red— from a partisan lean of R+13 to just R+7, making him potentially vulnerable a challenge from Will Rollins. Still, FiveThirtyEight forecasts a Calvert 54.0% to 46.0% win.

  • CA-45 is a blue-leaning district (D+5), where incumbent Michelle Steel (R) is being challenged by Jay Chen. FiveThirtyEight forecasts a Steel win, 52.2% to 47.8%.

  • CA-47- Katie Porter moved to this coastal district (D+6) and is likely to fend off Republican Scott Baugh. FiveThirtyEight forecasts a 53.9% to 46.1% win for her.

  • CA-49- Mike Levin’s district was redrawn from D+7 to D+5 but he should still be able to beat Brian Maryott and FiveThirtyEight forecasts a healthy 55.4% to 44.6% win for him.

Yesterday, the Washington Post’s Scott Wilson wondered whether the pro-Choice measure on the November ballot— which would add the right to an abortion to the state constitution— will help any of the Democratic candidates. He focused in on one of the weakest of the sad lot, Christy Smith. “The race between a first-term Republican and the same Democratic challenger he narrowly defeated two years ago,” he wrote, “is also a prime test of California’s activist approach on the resurgent issue of abortion after the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade. The state budget passed this summer included $200 million in public funds for abortion services, including $20 million to help defray the travel costs of poor women from newly restrictive states seeking the procedure in California. The state now operates a website designed to help women, inside and outside the state, navigate the array of abortion services California offers. And, alarmed that the Supreme Court decision showed that rights not specifically guaranteed could be lost, Democratic lawmakers rushed to place on the November ballot an amendment to the state constitution that would explicitly protect abortion rights. Proposition 1, as the measure appears on the ballot, is heading to an easy victory, according to several recent polls, with support even from a significant chunk of Republicans statewide. But how the amendment will affect other races in the state— particularly a handful of competitive congressional contests— has puzzled political analysts, largely because it is uncertain what type of people the amendment might inspire to vote. Several national political observers rate this race a toss-up, one of roughly five of 53 congressional contests in the state considered highly competitive, meaning that even slight variations in the electorate are potentially meaningful. Democrats, confident that the amendment will drive up party turnout in an off-presidential year election, have promoted the ballot measure. But others see risks that the amendment, along with the high-profile steps to expand abortion access taken by Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) and other state officials, will bring out Republicans who, in a funk of futility, might have otherwise sat out the race. If so, Democrats may have inadvertently and unnecessarily made themselves vulnerable at the margins in key contests.”

Rep. Mike Garcia (R), a former Navy fighter pilot and Iraq War veteran who opposed certifying the 2020 presidential election, stresses the uncertain economy, the over-$6-a-gallon gas prices, rising homelessness and crime in his public appearances and on his campaign website. Abortion is a subject he has largely avoided.
Garcia defeated Smith in 2020 by 333 votes, making it the third-closest congressional race in the country that year. This race is taking place in a newly drawn district more Democratic than it was when Garcia triumphed. It is also occurring in a more unpredictable environment since the Supreme Court’s June decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization.
…In the 27th District, the debate around the proposition has added even more uncertainty.
Garcia’s skin-of-the-teeth victory over Smith turned the district from blue to red, part of a shifting control between the parties here since the 2014 departure of Rep. Buck McKeon (R), who represented northern Los Angeles County and a conservative slice of southern Ventura County for more than two decades.
After defeating the Republican incumbent in 2018 in the district then labeled the 25th, Democrat Katie Hill held the seat for less than a year until she was forced to resign after acknowledging a prohibited sexual relationship with a campaign staff member. Garcia won a special election to replace her before his November 2020 victory over Smith.
While the new 27th District is more favorable to Democrats, one in five of the district’s voters are unaffiliated with either party, an independent streak that could determine the outcome of the race.
…Since the Supreme Court ruling, Smith has elevated abortion access as a primary issue in her campaign. Her advertising on social media, some of it critical of her opponent’s record, reflects her view that a strong majority of the district supports abortion rights.
“I would not back off of this even if that weren’t the case,” said Smith, who is 53. “This is a very galvanizing issue for voters, and we have found that it is appealing to voters who may not usually vote in midterm elections.”
Garcia’s decision to mute the abortion discussion in his campaign stands in contrast with his well-defined record against it.
Soon after taking office in 2020, he co-sponsored the Life at Conception Act, which granted legal protections for the fetus from the moment of conception. Garcia also signed an amicus brief asking the Supreme Court to overturn Roe, and he has opposed several other bills to protect abortion access, including the ability of women to travel to other states to have the procedure.
But immediately after the Dobbs opinion was issued, Garcia released a statement emphasizing that the court had placed the issue in states’ hands.

Running in a far redder district (CA-23, with a daunting R+15 partisan lean), Derek Marshall told me yesterday that he senses from voters he's talked to on the campaign trail that Prop 1 will turn out more independent voters in support of Choice and that they would be more likely to vote for him against the adamantly anti-Choice Obernolte, even though Obernolte is trying his best to hide from the issue. Obernolte's unrelenting and extreme anti-Choice voting record, though, speaks for itself.


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