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Democrats, Republicans contest swing districts in crucial congressional races

(Angela Song/Daily Bruin senior staff)

By Sharon Zhen

Nov. 5, 2018 2:17 a.m.

California Democrats are fighting to flip many Republican-controlled congressional seats in swing districts of Southern California, while Republicans are trying to keep those seats.

Matt Fleming, communications director for the Republican Party of California, said CAGOP has seven top-priority congressional seats, including the 10th, 21st, 39th, 45th and 48th districts.

The main congressional seat Republicans are trying to flip is the 16th District, in the Fresno area. They are also trying to flip Democrat incumbent Ami Bera’s seat, in the 7th District. Other than that, Republicans are trying to hold their incumbent seats, Fleming said.

John Vigna, communications director for the California Democratic Party, said Democrats are looking to unseat Dana Rohrabacher, Republican incumbent of the 48th District.

“(The 48th District) is a district Democrats haven’t dreamed of competing in, but because our activists have been so galvanized and our voters are so fired up we are very likely to defeat (Rohrabacher),” Vigna said. “This year is his reckoning.”

Vigna added Democrats are looking to unseat candidates in the districts of the San Joaquin Valley.

“It is a much more conservative area than the rest of California in a cultural and social sense, which gives Republicans an advantage,” Vigna said.

Democrats are also looking to flip seats in swing districts that voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election. Steve Pierson, program manager at Swing Left Academy, said the organization is focusing on five crucial swing districts in Southern California: the 25th, 39th, 45th, 48th and 49th. Swing Left, created after the 2016 presidential election, is a grassroots organization that campaigns in swing districts for congressional races across the nation.

Another political organization, Swing SoCal Left, is also delegating Democrat volunteers to campaign in swing districts. Wayne Mogilefsky, a volunteer for Swing SoCal Left, said the organization originated from the 33rd District, home of Democrat Rep. Ted Lieu.

“(Swing SoCal Left) started to form a network, a calendar where we could track everything, get in touch with boots on the ground in each swing district,” Mogilefsky said. “We ended up having five action councils in the major swing districts in Southern California.”

Below are some candidates running in swing districts in Southern California.

39th District

Young Kim – Republican

Young Kim was the first Korean-American woman to serve in the California State Assembly. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California, and has worked for the office of Edward Royce, the current congressperson. She advocates for issues such as increasing jobs by cutting taxes and unnecessary regulations, and increasing funding for STEM education, among other policies.

Gil Cisneros – Democrat

Gil Cisneros holds a political science bachelor’s degree from The George Washington University, an MBA from Regis University and a M.A. from Brown University. Cisneros is for abortion rights, and supports legislation to increase investment in clean energy. He additionally supports keeping the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, among other policies.

Royce is not seeking re-election.

45th District

Mimi Walters – Republican incumbent

Mimi Walters holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from UCLA. She has voted mainly in line with Trump’s policies, such as for allowing new businesses to deduct more startup expenses and against the carbon tax.

Katie Porter – Democrat

Katie Porter is a consumer protection attorney and law professor for University of California, Irvine. She supports a “Medicare-for-all” system, and limits to donations from super PACs and special interest groups. She also supports making college debt-free and paid family leave, among other policies.

48th District

Dana Rohrabacher – Republican incumbent

Rohrabacher has served in Congress for around 30 years, and is a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He met with Maria Butina in February 2017. Butina was charged with two counts related to conspiracy and acting as an unregistered foreign agent in September.

Harley Rouda – Democrat

Harley Rouda holds a bachelor’s degree from University of Kentucky, a J.D. from Capital University and a MBA from Ohio State University. He was endorsed by several firefighters associations in Southern California and supports tuition-free public university education and increasing access to trade skill apprenticeships.

49th District

Mike Levin – Democrat

Mike Levin holds a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and a J.D. from Duke University. He has been endorsed by former President Barack Obama and American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees California, the UC’s largest employee union. He is against expanding toll roads in South Orange County, and supports a ban on assault weapons and expanding background checks for gun sales, among other policies.

Diane Harkey – Republican

Diane Harkey holds a bachelor’s degree from UCI and served in the California State Assembly for six years. She is funded by the National Border Patrol Council and numerous law enforcement associations. She supports giving visas to children under the Deferred Action for Children Arrival program, and believes Congress should continue to provide security assistance to Israel, among other policies.

Republican Darrell Issa, the current congressman for this district, is not seeking re-election.

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Sharon Zhen
Zhen is an assistant news editor for the national and higher education beat. She was previously a contributor for the campus politics beat and an online contributor.
Zhen is an assistant news editor for the national and higher education beat. She was previously a contributor for the campus politics beat and an online contributor.
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