Nearly a month after Democrats flipped the House, the Blue Wave keeps rumbling through. This time, flipping a deep-red district in California.
The 21st hasn’t voted in a Democrat to the House since James C. Corman in 1974, but despite long odds, a long count, and the Washington Post calling it for the other guy on Election Night, California’s Central Valley district has elected Democrat T.J. Cox, according to Dave Wasserman of the Cook Political Report, who has projected Cox as the winner.
Projection: T.J. Cox (D) has defeated Rep. David Valadao (R) in #CA21, an upset that brings Dems to a *40 seat* gain overall.
Final House breakdown: 235D, 200R.
— Dave Wasserman (@Redistrict) November 28, 2018
Cox defeated incumbent Republican David Valadao, who was considered remarkably safe at the outset, and who was ahead by seven points in the deep-red district on November 6. Valadao connected well with his majority-Hispanic voters and supported the DACA “Dreamers” as well as comprehensive immigration before. But, on this issue, President Trump may have overshadowed Rep. Valadao.
“The president’s last-minute focus on chain migration probably really hurt here,” an operative told the Washington Examiner. “Can’t really point to anything specific the Valadao team did wrong — they ran a near perfect race but probably weren’t able to keep the focus local at the end.”
Trump loomed large, it seems, in a lot of races. 71 percent of candidates who got the Presidential Tweet of Approval lost their races in 2018 and, almost farcically, this has left the right more dependent on the President’s leadership than ever.
Naturally, Trump ducked any blame thrown at him.
“The president’s behavior towards me made me wonder, what did he have to gain by saying such a thing about a fellow Republican?” said defeated Representative Mia Love (R-Utah). “It was not really about asking him to do more, was it? Or was it something else? Well, Mr. President, we’ll have to chat about that. However, this gave me a clear vision of his world as it is — no real relationships, just convenient transactions. That is an insufficient way to implement sincere service and policy.”
— Decision Desk HQ (@DecisionDeskHQ) November 27, 2018
Love’s race, called earlier Monday, was considered the final undecided race by a number of publications, but Cox took the lead in California late Tuesday night and brought the total number of flipped seats to a nice, round 40.
And Democrats already have ideas of how to use all that new influence.
Katelyn Kivel is a contributing editor and senior legal reporter for Grit Post in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Follow her on Twitter @KatelynKivel.