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Winning back the House starts in California

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From left, U.S. Congressmen David Valadao, Ed Royce, Jeff Denham and Darrell Issa. (Courtesy photos)

Issa. Denham. Valadao. Royce.

These are four Republican Congressmen in California who are beatable in 2018.

As we watch the Republican-controlled Congress rubber-stamp President Donald Trump’s heinous agenda, everyone in liberal circles is talking about how important it is to take back the House of Representatives in 2018. Taking back the House makes it far more likely we will be able to impeach the 45th president and stall the right-wing agenda.

To that end, on Feb. 2, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee announced it was launching its “March into ’18” campaign. Capitalizing on the energy and excitement that is funneling into protests around the country, the March into ’18 campaign hopes to channel some of that energy into the 2018 election.

Swingleft.org helps progressives identify the swing district nearest to where they live and connects citizens with the campaigns to get them involved. Both the DCCC and swingleft.org have selected a few districts in California that they have identified as winnable by Democrats.

What makes a swing district?

1. If the seat was won in the last election by a close margin of votes.

2. If Hillary Clinton did well in that district versus Donald Trump.

3. If there are other elements weighing in Democrats’ favor, such as the percentage of minority voters in a district or perceived weaknesses of the incumbent.

After looking at each district, I think these four are the most winnable by Democrats in 2018.

Darrell Issa – CA-49

Congressman Darrell Issa represents a district with many military families and immigrants just north of San Diego. In November, Issa almost lost his seat to a retired Marine colonel and political newcomer, Doug Applegate. Issa only beat Applegate by 1,621 votes, which was less than 1 percent of the total vote count. Also noteworthy: Clinton earned 7.5 percent more votes than Trump in that district, and the district has become more progressive with every election.

Despite his narrow loss, Issa is doubling down on his support for Trump’s agenda, including the crackdown on immigration. He even defended Trump’s baseless claim that there were “millions of illegal votes” in the 2016 election. And Issa is feeling the heat from his constituents (one-third of which are Hispanic), who have been holding weekly protests in front of his office. Both the DCCC and swingleft.org are organizing against him, and Applegate has already launched his 2018 campaign.

Jeff Denham – CA-10

Three-term incumbent Jeff Denham represents the area of the Central Valley surrounding Modesto. He comes from a truly split district, which also voted for the Democratic candidate in each of the last five presidential elections, including Clinton.

Denham has consistently voted to repeal Obamacare, including on Jan. 13 this year, sparking an outcry and protests in his district. Commercial beekeeper Michael Eggman ran against him in 2014 and 2016, and almost beat him last year, coming within 8,201 votes — 3.4 percent of the ballots counted. Eggman hasn’t announced whether he’s running in 2018, but both the DCCC and swingleft.org have targeted his seat.

David Valadao – CA-21

This race will be an exciting one to watch. Three-term Congressman David Valadao won this seat in 2016 by 13.4 percent, a comfortable majority. However, Clinton won this district by an even more sizable majority — 15.5 percent — and these voters also favored Barack Obama by 11 percent in 2012.

The district covers a big chunk of the Central Valley, stretching from Fresno to Bakersfield, and it boasts a 71 percent Hispanic population. Valadao went back and forth a few times about whether he supported Trump for president but has voted in line with President Trump’s position in every single vote this year.

His opponent in 2016 was an exciting new candidate, Emilio Huerta, the son of civil rights icon Dolores Huerta. Huerta didn’t have enough campaign experience in the last race, but he will be formidable in 2018 if he runs again.

Ed Royce – CA-39

Congressman Ed Royce represents parts of Los Angeles and Orange counties and he’s been in Congress for 24 years. You might think this makes him hard to beat, but his seat has been identified by the DCCC as winnable, in part because Clinton won the district by 8.6 percent, and these voters also backed Obama by a whopping 33 percent in 2008. Despite the diversity of his district — one-third white, one-third Asian and one-third Hispanic — Royce has supported President Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda, including the wall he wants to build along the country’s southern border.

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I urge you to get involved now and help make sure California does its part in taking back the House of Representatives. It may seem like 2018 is a long way away, but in campaign years, it’s right around the corner.

Alix Rosenthal is a municipal attorney, nasty woman and progressive activist who mentors and trains women to run for political office. She can be found on Twitter at @alixro and her blog is at www.votealix.com.

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