There has been an exodus of Republican incumbents from Congress in the lead-up to the midterm elections this year, with former Rep. Devin Nunes and five other California members of Congress announcing their resignations.
After November, there will be no significant change in the state’s House representation, according to experts. But the departure of some long-serving members of Congress could open the path for underrepresented candidates to run for governor.
“It doesn’t look like it will change anything substantial for either party in California,” said Michael Li, senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice’s Democracy program. It will be simpler for candidates from particular communities to win a district if there are no strong incumbents with the benefit of name recognition.
Representatives from 22 states have declared their plans to leave Congress in the last several months, either to retire or run for another position. That doesn’t include the one open seat currently on the board.
Longtime Democrats Karen Bass and Jackie Speier are among several who have resigned in California. Nunes vacated his post in the House of Representatives last month to take the helm of the social media firm he co-founded with former President Donald Trump, leaving a vacancy in the position. However, he has so far opted out of the race for reelection in his state.
Due to California’s new congressional map, which was revised this year by an independent commission as part of the decennial redistricting process, several lawmakers may be stepping down.
There are rumors that Democrats are considering abandoning the party over fears that they may lose control of the House of Representatives.
The main challenges to keeping power are President Joe Biden’s declining approval ratings, Democratic Congress’s inability to pass important legislation, and a historical trend that shows the president’s party losing momentum in the midterms.
To be sure, some members of the House of Representatives are merely pursuing other political roles or accepting employment outside of the public sector, such as that of Rep. Devin Nunes.
Even if they wait until beyond the state’s March 11 filing deadline, other candidates may make their intentions known before November.
However, it’s possible that the six resignations announced recently in California won’t have a significant impact on the race for control of the House. Most open seats are leaning toward the Democrats. According to a study by-elections forecaster FiveThirtyEight, the party is expected to maintain a majority in the California House delegation.
However, the withdrawals may signal a turning point for historically underrepresented groups by increasing the number of potential candidates in the race for a House seat.
Latino Community Foundation’s vice president of policy, Christian Arana, remarked, “Windows are opening now that people are beginning to retire and depart Congress.”
Congressional Democrats are aiming after the seat held by Representative Nunes
According to Claremont McKenna College politics professor John Pitney, Nunes’ 48-year-old district is “likely to garner lots of attention” during the midterm elections because of his staunch Trump-backing.
Looks like Democrats will win Nunes’ Fresno-area seat in the midterms. Democrat’s difficult battle to retain control of the House of Representatives would gain a modest lift if the district went blue.
According to FiveThirtyEight’s research, the newly redesigned 21st District, which was once the 22nd before redistricting, now has a 16 percent-point Democratic advantage from an 11 percent-point Republican tilt.
According to political forecaster Larry Sabato, head of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, the new 21st Congressional District is likewise “likely Democratic.”
Pitney believes Nunes would have had difficulty retaining her seat in the House of Representatives. A re-election campaign for Nunes would have been extremely difficult, he said. In the Democratic Party, he’s one of the least liked Republican politicians. They’re all well aware of his role in defending Donald Trump.
In the House of Representatives, Nunes was one of Trump’s most steadfast allies. The investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, which he headed as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee from 2015 to 2019, found no evidence of cooperation between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
During the first impeachment trial in 2019, Nunes defended the previous president. The President eventually gave him the Presidential Medal of Freedom for his role in “thwarting a plot to take down a sitting United States president” through the Russia inquiry, just two days before the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol rebellion.
Nearly a year before his term was up, Nunes resigned. After the primary election in April, the state will have a special election to fill its seat in the summer. “The special election for Nunes’ current district will provide Republicans a much greater shot’ than they would have under the new map, which debuts in November,” Pitney added, via the Hill.
Longtime Democratic Rep. Jim Costa stated last year that he will run in the newly created 21st District. A Republican candidate will have to compete against him. Nunes’ district in the central San Joaquin Valley is bordered by Costa’s congressional district, which he has represented since 2013.
Democrat-leaning political analyst and firm owner Paul Mitchell predicted that Costa would win the newly drawn district by a wide margin. There’s no way he’s going to miss it, he added. “Any Democrat can do it,” says the pundit.
But even while the seat of California Republican Chair Jessica Millan Patterson admits it “likely” will change in the elections, she expects her party to make gains on their 2020 performance.
According to San Diego-based KUSI News, Patterson said, “California Republicans see a lot of opportunities.” In other words, “we see a chance to boost our numbers and ranks throughout the state, even if it is new faces.”
Democrats head for the exits
Not just in California, but around the country, Democrats make up the majority of House members who are stepping down or running for another position.
As reported by the House Press Gallery, Democrats make up 29 of the 42 U.S. House members who are not seeking reelection.
Members’ reluctance to serve in the House minority after four years in the majority, according to political experts, may explain the exits.
Democratic congressional seats have always been lost in the first midterm elections, but Biden and the party now face extra difficulties.
Concerns about the president’s handling of the coronavirus and the economy have taken their toll on his job approval rating. According to a CNBC/Change Research poll, it was 44% in December, down from 9 percent in September and 7 percent in April. In a poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos last week, his approval rating fell to 43%.
Exacerbating Biden’s problems are rising tensions along the Russian-Ukrainian border; Democrats’ inability to pass voting rights legislation; and the stagnation of the much-touted Build Back Better domestic spending plan.
According to Eric McGhee, a senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California, “more Democrats have decided not to run” than Republicans. As a general rule, retirements tend to be more common in the party that is losing in the polls. Existing employees realize that they have no choice but to risk losing their jobs when they see the writing on the wall.
California Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney, a member of the Stockton regional delegation, announced his resignation from the House of Representatives. Lucille Roybal-Allard, Alan Lowenthal, and Jackie Speier were the three other Democrats who announced their plans to step down months ago.
Bass, a former chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, will not run for reelection as a member of Congress. She was one of many candidates hoping to succeed outgoing Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti in the race last year.
Bass’ newly redrawn 37th Congressional District in the Los Angeles area is even bluer than it was under the old congressional map. FiveThirtyEight’s estimate put it at a 72-point advantage against Republicans.
Errol Webber, Bass’ Republican challenger in 2020, was annihilated, garnering 85.9 percent of the vote. In the district’s June primary, three of the four candidates are Democrats.
According to FiveThirtyEight, Speier’s reconfigured 15th District has a 54-point Democratic lean. In 2020, she received 79.3 percent of the vote and was re-elected. But so far, there have been no Democratic primary candidates in the district.
The new district map drew Roybal-Allard and Lowenthal into the 42nd District. Based on an analysis of the FiveThirtyEight data, the seat is “very probably” going to be filled by a Democrat. The 44-point Democratic advantage in the Long Beach-area seat is maintained since it was the 47th District before to redistricting.
Five of the six candidates in the primary election for the district are Democrats.
According to Republican redistricting specialist Matt Rexroad, the only other available seat might be “something of a tough fight” in McNerney’s district. According to the FiveThirtyEight analysis, Democrats hold an 8-point advantage in the redesigned 9th District.
Josh Harder, a Democrat who represents the state’s 10th District, has indicated that he will compete for McNerney’s seat in the fall. Rexroad, on the other hand, believes that the Republican Party has a decent chance of winning.
Rexroad predicts a Republican victory in 2022 in his district. In other words, “There’ll be a lot going on there.”
As a result of this new congressional map, Democrats in California believe they have a chance to reverse the national trend and gain “one to three seats,” according to Pitney at Claremont McKenna.
In light of recent studies, he is correct.
As a result of the revised map, there are 43 Democratic-leaning districts, seven Republican-leaning seats, and two highly competitive ones. According to FiveThirtyEight’s map analysis, the party makeup of the current congressional borders is virtually unchanged.
Crystal Ball analysis by Sabato predicted the same outcome. In total, it rated 41 districts as safe, “likely,” and “leans” Democratic, and eight districts as “safe” and “least likely.” Three districts were classified as “toss-ups” in this year’s election.
Fresh candidates have emerged.
There is a promise for new and varied political opponents in the 2017 midterm elections as the drama unfolds over the party’s majority makeup in the House.
The current Congress is the most diverse to date in terms of racial and cultural diversity, and this could help to further that trend.
Members of Congress from minorities have reached an all-time high. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report, there are currently 59 Black House members, 46 Latino House members, 16 Asian/Pacific Islander House members, and five Native American House members.
The demographics of California’s House delegation are not available in any form or fashion. According to Peter Mitchell, a non-partisan political consultant, and researcher, the Latino population could be on its way up.
Latinos are “powerhouses” in terms of their influence, credibility, and sheer numbers in the state,” he said.
The new congressional design provides Latinos more power to elect politicians of their choice, as they have been the main force behind the state’s population rise in recent years.
According to the 2010 Census, the state’s population increased by 11%, or over 1.5 million people, between 2010 and 2020. According to the Public Policy Institute of California, this has resulted in an additional six congressional districts with majorities of Latino voters after redistricting.
Robert Garcia, the mayor of Long Beach since 2014, is one prominent Latino candidate for a Democratic House seat this year. Since he was elected, he has become the city’s first openly gay Mayor and first Latino Mayor. To be on the safe side, he is running in Roybal-Allard and Lowenthal, a new, blue district.
A member of Vice President Biden’s 2020 Latino Leadership Committee, Garcia is endorsed by the LGBTQ nonprofit Equality California.
Garcia’s 42nd District rivals include Cristina Garcia, a member of the state Assembly; and political newcomer Nicole López.
As a gay Latino, Robert Garcia would be the first openly gay member of Congress from California. ′′ So here we are in the next era. According to Arana of the Latino Community Foundation, the new America “should be represented at all levels of government” by people like her.
Special elections will be held in April for Nunes’ newly reconfigured district, which includes a number of Latino Democratic candidates. Bryan Osorio, the mayor of Delano, California, and Rudy Salas, a member of the state Assembly, are among them.
Also vying for the 37th District seat are two black women: Sydney Kamlager, a state senator and member of the California Legislative Black Caucus, and former Los Angeles City Councilmember Jan Perry. Baltazar Fedalizo, a Filipino-American businessman, and Daniel Lee, Culver City’s first black council member, are also in the running.
Clarissa Martinez de Castro, deputy vice president of Latino advocacy group UnidosUS, said that when legislators step down, it “creates a larger chance for aspiring public servants from different communities to seek for office.
“It gives an opportunity for them to diversify the state,” she added of the Latino, youth, and other communities of color.