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McClatchy Washington Bureau
McClatchy Washington Bureau
Gillian Brassil

After California’s primary, analysts say these are 10 congressional elections to watch

Ballots from California’s June 7 primary are still being counted, but the results show which U.S. House races will be the hottest in November, with several that could tilt control of the chamber from Democrats to Republicans in 2023, according to independent election analysts.

Election trackers predict a GOP wave this fall as President Joe Biden’s approval rating sags under the weight of record gas prices, gun violence and surging COVID numbers. Plus the party of the president, now a Democrat, historically does poorly in midterm elections.

Analysts at nonpartisan organizations — including the Cook Political Report, Sabato’s Crystal Ball, Inside Elections and Elections Daily — rate Democratic and Republican prospects for the races on a depreciating scale from safe to a toss-up.

These are rated as California’s closest congressional elections as of June 14:

Likely Republican

3rd District

Three of the four trackers say the 3rd Congressional District will likely elect a Republican in the fall. Elections Daily rates the 3rd, which stretches along the Nevada border from Warner Valley past Shoshone, is safe for the GOP.

Dr. Kermit Jones, a Democratic attorney and Navy veteran, and Rocklin Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, a Republican, advanced from the primary.

Jones had 39.8% of the vote. Kiley, who was endorsed by Trump, was named Tuesday to the National Republican Campaign Committee’s Young Guns program — which provides money and other support to candidates it considers promising — had 36.5%. Almost half of the votes have been counted, according to the Associated Press.

Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones, a Republican who shares many of Kiley’s, conservative views, took 17%.

The 3rd District, newly drawn based on 202 census data, would have voted for former President Donald Trump in 2020 by a 2% margin

40th District

The Cook Political Report says the 40th leans toward a GOP candidate; the other organizations rate this election as likely for a Republican.

The AP called the race for Democratic challenger Dr. Asif Mahmood on June 10. It called the race for incumbent Rep. Young Kim, R-Fullerton, on June 13.

Mahmood, a pulmonologist and internal medicine doctor, had 40.9% of the votes. Kim 34.5%.

85% of the votes had been counted in this Orange County district.

Remaining votes also went to Republicans, meaning the GOP won almost 59%. The largest portion went to Greg Raths, a former fighter pilot who contested Rep. Katie Porter in 2020. He received 23.4%.

41st District

All four analysis organizations rate the 41st likely Republican.

Rep. Ken Calvert, R-Corona, and Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, advanced to November in the Riverside district.

Calvert had 47.9%,. Rollins 31.3%. The AP reported that 85% of ballots had been counted.

Calvert has not had a challenger come within 3 percentage points of him in a general election since 2008.


22nd District

The 22nd Congressional District is a toss-up for all four organizations.

The AP called the race for Bakersfield Assemblyman Rudy Salas, the Democratic challenger, on election night. It has not yet called the second-place spot for incumbent Rep. David Valadao, R-Hanford.

Forty-eight percent of the votes were counted by June 14. Salas had 44.1%, Valadao 26.3%.

The other votes are split between two other Republicans. Chris Mathys, a former Fresno City Councilman who tried to run as a “Trump conservative,” collected 22.4%. Adam Thomas Medeiros, a businessman and member of the Kings County Board of Education, took 7.2%.

Some progressives think Salas, who is in the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s Red to Blue program — which gives fundraising and organizational support to candidates who might flip seats — has the potential to become the Central Valley’s first Latino House representative.

The redrawn 22nd, which runs from Hanford past Wasco, would have voted for Biden by a 13% margin in 2020.

27th District

Elections Daily rates the 27th leaning Republican. The rest still call it as a toss-up.

Incumbent Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Santa Clarita, and challenger Christy Smith, a Democrat and former California State Assembly member, advanced from the primary.

Garcia had 48.3%, Smith 36.7%. The AP reported that 68.5% of the ballots in this district, which sits above Los Angeles, have been counted.

45th District

Incumbent Rep. Michelle Park Steel, R-Seal Beach, and Democratic challenger Jay Chen, a small business owner, advanced to the general election in the crescent-shaped, Southern California district.

Steel had 49%; Chen, a DCCC Red to Blue candidate, 42.2%. Almost 79% of the votes have been counted.

Elections Daily also rates this election as one that leans for the GOP.

Leans Democratic

All four election trackers say these three districts lean in favor of a Democrat.

13th District

The AP has not said who will advance in the 13th, but Assemblyman Adam Gray and farmer John Duarte are leading.

Half of the votes have been counted. Gray, a Democrat from Merced, had 32.6%. Duarte, a Republican business owner, had 32%.

The next closest candidate, Democrat Phil Arballo, had 18.5%.

The GOP views the San Joaquin Valley district as a top pickup opportunity. Duarte has been a member of the Young Guns program since before the election.

47th District

Porter, the Democratic incumbent, and Republican challenger Scott Baugh advanced from the primary in the Southern California district.

Porter, D-Irvine, had 51.3% and Baugh, a former Republican leader in the State Assembly and a Young Gun, 31%.

Eighty-five percent of the votes had been counted.

49th District

The AP called the race for incumbent Rep. Mike Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano. One of four Republicans will join him on the November ballot in this San Diego district.

Levin had 49.9% with 85% of the ballots counted.

The closest challenger is Brian Maryott, a former mayor of San Juan Capistrano who Levin beat by just over 6 percentage points in 2020. Maryott, who was named a member of the Young Gun program on Tuesday, had 18.8%.

Following him was Lisa Bartlett, a former mayor of Dana Point, who took 10.6%.

Likely Democratic

9th District

Elections Daily now says the Stockton-centered district leans Democratic, but the other three organizations place it in the “likely” column.

The AP has not called the race for any candidate yet. Less than 22% of the votes have been counted.

Leading was incumbent Rep. Josh Harder, D-Turlock, with 36.4%. San Joaquin County Supervisor Tom Patti, the Republican challenger and a newly-minted NRCC Young Gun, had 29.4%.

Sabato’s Crystal Ball also rates elections in the 21st, 25th and 26th Districts as ones that are likely, but not definitely, going for a Democrat in 2022. Democratic Reps. Jim Costa, Raul Ruiz and Julia Brownley all advanced to the general election.


(McClatchy DC’s David Lightman contributed to this story.)

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