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The Blue Wave and the OC: What the congressional races tell us about Republicanism behind the Orange curtain




Supporters of Democratic Congressional candidate for California's 48th District Harley Rouda, hold signs and cheer at a get-out-the-vote rally in Laguna Beach, California on election day November 6, 2018.
Supporters of Democratic Congressional candidate for California's 48th District Harley Rouda, hold signs and cheer at a get-out-the-vote rally in Laguna Beach, California on election day November 6, 2018.
ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images

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First-time candidate Josh Harder defeated four-term Republican U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham Tuesday in California's farm belt, giving Democrats their fourth pickup of a GOP House seat in California.

As ballot-counting continued, Democrats gained ground in two undecided House races in Orange County, California, raising the possibility of a Democratic sweep of four closely contested congressional races in the one-time Republican stronghold. In the 45th District in Orange County, Democrat Katie Porter jumped into a 261-vote lead over Republican Rep. Mimi Walters, after trailing the incumbent since Election Day. And in the 39th District, anchored in Orange County, Democrat Gil Cisneros tightened the gap with Republican Young Kim.

Earlier, Democrats claimed the seats of Republican Reps. Dana Rohrabacher in the county's 48th District and retiring Darrell Issa in the 49th District, which cuts through the southern end of the county. There was a string of showcase battles in California in Republican districts that were targeted by Democrats after Hillary Clinton carried them in the 2016 presidential election. For state Republicans, Denham's defeat marked another setback in a state where the party has been drifting toward irrelevance for years. Democrats hold every statewide office, a supermajority in both chambers of the Legislature and a 3.7-million advantage in voter registrations.

With Harder's win, Democrats will hold at least a 43-10 edge in California U.S. House seats. Other Republican incumbents in California to lose this year include Rep. Steve Knight in the 25th District, north of Los Angeles. President Donald Trump was a factor in the GOP losses. He lost California by over 4 million votes in 2016, and many voters saw an opportunity to send a message to Washington when they voted for Democrats. We discuss what does that mean to the Republican party in California and how can the GOP gain back voters.

With files from the Associated Press

Guests:

Tom Campbell, professor of economics and law at Chapman University; a member of the United States Congress from 1989-1993 and 1995-2001; a member of the California State Senate from 1993-1995; and the director of the California Department of Finance from 2004-2005

Norberto Santana, publisher of “Voice of OC,” a nonprofit newsroom covering Orange County; he tweets @NorbertoSantana

Gustavo Arellano, California columnist for L.A. Times Opinion section; former editor and “¡Ask a Mexican!” columnist at O.C. Weekly; he tweets @GustavoArellano