A couple of years ago, Orange County’s entire Congressional delegation turned blue, when Democrats ran the table in 2018. But will that momentum continue in 2020?
U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda is running for a second term representing the 48th district, which includes OC coastal cities like Seal Beach and Aliso Viejo, but County Supervisor Michelle Steel wants that job.
And U.S. Rep. Gil Cisneros has a rematch against former State Assemblywoman Young Kim to represent the 39th district, which covers Yorba Linda, Fullerton, and Hacienda Heights.
Voting is happening all across California, with tens of thousands of ballots already returned by mail or drop box, and LA Times columnist Gustavo Arellano is watching both races closely.
KCRW: Let's start with Cisneros and Kim. They faced off during that “blue wave.” It was incredibly close. What's it looking like this time?
Gustavo Arellano: “Same as it ever was. Incredibly close. She's going up against a guy who was not exactly the most liberal member of Congress or even the Orange County delegation, but it serves him right for a district that's probably the most diverse one in Orange County. The voters break down roughly a third white, a third Asian, and a third Latino… a district that, like the rest of Orange County, has been changing over the past 15 to 20 years.
If Young Kim wins, she would be the first ever Korean American elected into Congress. So there's a lot of attention being put on this race. But Gil hasn't angered people enough to reject him.”
Let's move on now to Rouda and Steel. Rouda flipped the 48th district a couple of years ago when he beat longtime congressman Dana Rohrabacher. That was a big surprise. This is coastal Orange County, the different part of Orange County that you always talk about, right?
“This is rock red Republican central, traditionally. Harley Rouda is even more conservative than Gil. He's going on in commercials saying, ‘Look, I've voted against my party. I've tried to do bipartisanship with Republicans out in Congress.’ But that's not enough for someone like Michelle Steel who is very much of the Trump supporting, against gay marriage, against abortion type of Republican.
If she won, she would also be the first Korean American ever elected to Congress.”
Unofficial ballot drop boxes have been popping up across the state, including parts of LA and Orange counties. Who's behind it? Is this what's called ballot harvesting What's going on here?
“It seems the California Republican party is behind this.
People are trying to make it out to be this insidious effort by the GOP, just like they have in the past, to suppress voters. But no, this is a ham-fisted attempt by the Republican party to tell its voters ‘Hey, you don't trust the Registrar of Voters or the post office to put in your mail-in ballot? Well, we'll collect it for you.’
Under state law in California, third parties can collect voter ballots from other people as long as people sign off on it. That's what the Republican Party is saying this is trying to be about. But Secretary of State Alex Padilla said ‘Yeah, you can't put out boxes and call it official.’ Even though they all look like it came off of a Microsoft PowerPoint presentation.”
Is there any kind of malfeasance going on here with these unofficial boxes?
“This is just an attempt at what the Republicans were accusing the Democrats of doing in 2018. They're trying to get their own voters to vote. But it's not insidious. It's just ham-fisted, weak salsa politicking by the Republican Party, which really shows how desperate they are to try to make any gains in California.”