Saturday, December 01, 2018

How Did The Dems Win 7 Red GOP Seats? Ben Ray Lujan And His Band Of Incompetents Want The Credit— But Kevin McCarthy (And Trump) Did More Than The DCCC Did


California made a big difference to the new Democratic majority in the House. With the final reversal in the Central Valley’s 21st district yesterday, a total of 7 Republican incumbents are being replaced by Democrats:
CA-10- Josh Harder replaces Jeff Denham
CA-21- T.J. Cox replaces David Valadao
CA-25- Katie Hill replaces Steve Knight
CA-39- Gil Cisneros replaces Ed Royce
CA-45- Katie Porter replaces Mimi Walters
CA-48- Harley Rouda replaces Dana Rohrabacher
CA-49- Mike Levin replaces Darrell Issa
There is no question that Ammar Campa-Najjar would be replacing Duncan Hunter had venal DCCC bigots not purposely sabotaged him. About 9,000 votes (of over a quarter million cast) separates them with the final votes still being tallied. The DCCC has been running around trying to claim credit for the California wins, where they deserve none at all. Their presence in the state made it more difficult for Democrats and nearly cost the party several districts. The reason for the wins has more to do with Ted Lieu’s fundraising strategies for the candidates combined with the immense dislike for Trump and the bumbling of Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, another Californian who himself is lucky the DCCC gave him a pass, allowing a hapless joke candidate to run against him.

McCarthy twisted his fellow Californians’ arms to back policies that were unpopular in their districts and that led to their defeats, from all those absurd votes-- popular in white parts of the Old Confederacy-- to repeal the Affordable Care Act to a tax bill that costs middle class Californians dearly so that big corporations and multimillionaires and billionaires could pay less. McCarthy endeared himself to Trump by making his members walk the plank but cut his own state’s Republican delegation in half. Reporting for the L.A. Times yesterday, Mark Barabak and Sarah Wire, wrote that the catastrophic losses have caused some to question McCarthy’s judgment. McCarthy’s lack of concern with California voters led him to force his colleagues to take bad votes on highly unpopular GOP gun proposals, tax bills and healthcare. “[A]ll five of the Republican incumbents who ran and lost,” wrote Barback and Wire, “faced headwinds of their own making, a result of unpopular votes they cast and their association with a president who is political poison in California and has no closer ally in Congress than McCarthy, or ‘my Kevin,’ as Trump calls him.”

“It’s been widely talked about how close McCarthy has grown to Trump,” said Kurt Bardella, a former aide to Issa who left the Republican Party out of frustration with its positions on climate change, race relations and other issues. “That proximity extended to the delegation and its members.”

The losses have a personal poignancy for McCarthy. A former leader of Republicans in the state Assembly, he was instrumental in shaping California’s GOP delegation. After being elected to Congress in 2006 and rising in the leadership ranks, he personally recruited Reps. Jeff Denham, Valadao and Walters to run for their seats; all three had served with McCarthy in Sacramento and Denham was his roommate in the state capital.

Embracing Trump and appeasing the hard-line conservative wing of the GOP were shrewd steps for McCarthy, who unsuccessfully bid for House speaker in 2015 but quickly bounced back, due in part to his strong ties to the White House.

But being the president’s point person on Capitol Hill meant pushing policies that were out of step with voters back home-- such as a measure to override state gun control laws-- and corralling his fellow California lawmakers to help pass them.

One glaring example was the sweeping tax bill passed in December, which stands to hurt many Californians by capping deductions of state and local taxes as well as the interest on home mortgages. All but two of the state’s 14 House Republicans-- Rohrabacher and Issa-- voted for the GOP tax law, even though studies suggested it would have an especially negative impact on residents in pricey areas such as suburban Orange and Los Angeles counties.

The vote allowed Democrats, who are usually tagged with the tax-and-spend label, to wield the issue as a weapon and accuse Republicans of putting party loyalty ahead of their constituents’ interests.

“We need a champion for tax fairness,” said Walters’ Democratic opponent, Katie Porter, “not someone who will sell out Orange County because Donald Trump” and House leaders “asked her to do so.”

The state’s GOP delegation voted unanimously to repeal the Affordable Care Act even though that would have had a devastating impact on California, which runs the country’s largest Medicaid program, serving the poor, disabled and nursing home residents. In Valadao’s district alone, tens of thousands of residents might have lost healthcare coverage if the repeal effort had not stalled in the Senate.

For his part, Rohrabacher disputed that McCarthy, the tax bill or the attempted healthcare rollback played any role in his defeat.

“The reason I lost and we lost is because you had Bolshevik billionaires who pumped in enormous sums of money to defeat us. That was it,” the 13-term lawmaker said.

The four other ousted California members did not return phones calls and emails seeking comment.

There were reasons apart from loyalty to McCarthy to vote as they did.

For some, their votes were a matter of principle or a belief that, for instance, the tax bill would be good for the country, boosting economic growth, increasing wages and proving an overall benefit to California.

Walters had an eye on climbing the leadership ladder. Denham, who lost his Central Valley seat, was a possible candidate for chairman of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee if Republicans held onto the House in November. Going along to get along is one way to advance in Congress.

Many also had little reason to believe the political cost would be as steep as it proved to be.

Denham and Valadao both prided themselves on being home-grown candidates who were targeted over and over by Democrats but still managed to win reelection, even in tough years for Republicans.

“Everybody knew it would be competitive,” Bardella said of the climate for California’s GOP lawmakers, “but I don’t think anybody anticipated they’d be wiped out.”

Personal regard and a debt of gratitude may have also played a role in the decision to stick by McCarthy, a gregarious personality who is popular with his California peers.

Not only did McCarthy recruit several of his California colleagues, he helped advance their careers. Valadao, who was first elected in 2012, was given a leadership role on legislation involving water, the foremost issue in the Central Valley. Walters was given a lower-rung leadership post after she won in 2014.

McCarthy raised nearly $5 million to help Republican House members targeted in California and supported an effort to put a gas-tax repeal measure on the November ballot to help boost GOP turnout.

None of it worked. The irony is that in securing his position as the top House Republican, McCarthy may have helped ensure there will be fewer from California to serve alongside him.
With Trump likely to be on the top of the ticket in 2020, Democrats will be focused on Devin Nunes, Duncan Hunter, Paul Cook, Doug LaMalfa, Ken Calvert and Tom McClintock. Progressive activists have already been begging Audrey Denney (CA-01) and Ammar Campa-Najjar (CA-50) to continue campaigning for the offices they came close to winning with 2020 as the new target. “The ultimate irony,” one Sacramento-based Democratic consultant told me, “will be when McCarthy is the last Republican standing in California-- just McCarthy… no other Republicans from California in Washington.”

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At 9:29 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

A few of those names just joined the New Dems/Pro Wall Street Caucus Follow The Corruption.

At 9:55 AM, Blogger DownWithTyranny said...

ap215-- I don't have high hopes for most of the California freshmen. Blue America supported Katie Porter only. HOWEVER, Mike Levin seems to be off to a good start as well. I have my fingers crossed but I suspect most of them will be fairly worthless, if not worse.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Well said Howie thanks very much.

At 8:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a California voter myself, I love that McCarthy is enjoying the fruits of his labors. He sure screwed CA hard when he had the chance!

At 7:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

as a fan of the long game, I see most of those plus maybe more going red again in 2020. The anti-red ripple did exist in CA but after nothing at all useful happens, I'm sure the anti-blue rebound will also be real.


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