GOP Poised to Unseat CA Dem Rouda

GOP flips multiple seats in deep blue California

Rep. Harley Rouda (D., Calif.) arrives at a hearing before the House Committee on Oversight, Environment Subcommittee / Getty Images
November 9, 2020

Republican challenger Michelle Steel is poised to unseat California Democratic representative Harley Rouda as the GOP looks to expand on its unexpected House gains.

Steel currently leads Rouda by more than 7,300 votes. A GOP operative in the state told the Washington Free Beacon that an estimated 7,000 votes are yet to be recorded.

The Democrat has failed to thwart Republican attacks over his scandal-plagued business record. As a real estate executive, Rouda terminated his employees' health care and retirement benefits. His businesses were subject to hundreds of thousands of dollars in tax liens over a 17-year period.

Republican candidates are also leading in two additional California swing districts and are close behind in a third. Former Republican congressman David Valadao leads Rep. T.J. Cox (D.) by nearly 4 points, with an estimated 83 percent of the vote recorded, according to the New York Times. Cox also faced criticism on tax issues. The Democrat in March voted against a bill to require members of Congress to disclose tax liens while owing nearly $145,000 in unpaid federal income taxes. Months earlier, Cox wrongfully claimed his $1 million second home in Maryland as his primary residence when selling the property.

In California's 39th Congressional District, incumbent representative Gil Cisneros (D.) trails Republican challenger Young Kim by more than 3,500 votes. And in the state's 25th district, Rep. Mike Garcia (R.) is within 0.4 points of liberal state legislator Christy Smith. Just months ago, he became the first California Republican to flip a Democratic seat since 1998, beating Smith by 12 points in a May special election.

Should Republicans prevail in the tight races, 2020 will mark the California GOP's most successful year in recent memory. Republicans last flipped four Democratic-held seats in the state in 1980. The down-ballot success came despite Democrat Joe Biden's 31-point victory over President Trump in California.

Republicans have thus far earned a net gain of five House seats despite widespread projections that Democrats would grow their majority in the nation's lower chamber by as many as 15 members. The success has been driven in large part by Republican women, six of whom flipped seats to the GOP on election night.

Update 11/9/2020 8:30 p.m.: This piece was updated with additional election results.