There is a community in Orange County, California that is becoming ground zero for Democrats who hope to turn President Trump’s unpopularity into opportunity. Their hope is to take control of the House next year, and their first target is Rep. Ed Royce, an established Republican incumbent. These new progressives hope to topple him and create a wave of anti-Trump backlash.
The goal is to win 24 seats and take back control of the House and their focus in on seven Republican-held seats that are clustered around Orange County. These seats are in districts that Hillary Clinton won in the 2016 presidential election. Clinton was the first Democrat since FDR to carry Orange County.
The unrest and even anger in these districts are both opportunity and challenge for Democrats as they move toward the 2018 midterm elections. They are drawing massive crowds to gatherings but, they are also attracting a large number of candidates. As a result, they will have a long and expensive primary season before they can focus on Royce. And he already has $3.1 million in the bank.
“While Republicans are focused on their districts, Democrats are tearing one another apart in brutal, expensive races to the left,” said Jack Pandol, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee. “Thus far, Democrats’ big promises in California have won them nothing except more friendly fire that they are struggling — and failing — to control.”
On the Democratic side, billionaire environmentalist Tom Steyer’s group NextGen America is focusing its early 2018 efforts on Royce, Valadao, Knight, and Denham — “four districts where young people obviously can be the swing,” Steyer said. The NextGen America group will be on more than 200 college campuses in eight states in the 2018 election cycle. They hope to organize young adults to be a part of a grassroots program that emphasizes face-to-face conversations and texts with potential voters.
But California Republicans are optimistic that their incumbents will keep their fundraising advantage and win the elections.
“The fact of the matter is, in a presidential election with near-record turnout, these Republicans won rather handily, even though Hillary Clinton won their districts. They will more than likely outperform their margin of victory in 2018,” said Jim Brulte, the California Republican Party chairman.
Is this ground zero for the Democrats and will a wave start in Southern California that covers the country and wins back Capitol Hill for the Democrats?