California’s primary elections are around the corner and many are paying close attention to Orange County, where some traditionally red districts could turn blue in the midterms.
KCRW’s Chery Glaser spoke with Christine Mai-Duc, a Los Angeles Times political reporter, about why the state’s 48th Congressional District is up for grabs.
“There is really this excitement about the idea that Orange County is changing demographically, politically, in a lot of ways this is not Reagan-land anymore. It’s really kind of a test this year for Democrats,” said Mai-Duc. “As to whether they can harness the anti-Trump and anti-incumbent energy coming from Democrats to really flip these seats because all four of these seats, what they have in common, is that Hillary Clinton won in each of them over Donald Trump.”
Mai-Duc said that Democrats are hoping for this red district to turn blue, along with others across the country. Especially since about a quarter of Orange County’s voters do not have a preference in political parties. “It’s definitely key to note that, you know, in a year where both parties are really struggling for control of the house that people are less and less likely to affiliate with parties.”
Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican congressman for California, may see the end of his 30 year tenure this year due to his incomplete support from the GOP, according to Mai-Duc. “I think that people really think he might be in danger because of the lack of full support from his party. One thing is that he’s always kind of considered himself a maverick and really breaks from his party on certain things. He also has, you know, some stances that Republicans and, and Republican establishment leaders really consider curious.”
Rohrabacher faces five other Republicans running against him in this election, including one of his former protégés, Scott Baugh. “He’s probably the most prominent one. He’s really kind of gaining some momentum there, and that actually is becoming a major concern for Democrats,” Mai-Duc said of Baugh.
Another factor that could significantly influence the Orange County vote is the district’s general stance on the sanctuary state policy. “Orange County Republican Congressional candidates have recognized really the power of the sanctuary state policy and the backlash against it right now amongst constituents in Orange County. I think they really see this as a way to motivate their base, which is going to be a major challenge for them in this election. I think that they really see this issue, not only as an issue they probably really align with, but as one where if they spend time and capital being out there and very visible on the subject they can point to it and say I’m working on this issue that you care about.”
Photo courtesy of Christine Mai-Duc