The primaries will decide a lot of Congress | Columnists

Big change was in store for the likes of John Garamendi and Ken Calvert and Raul Ruiz from the time California’s bipartisan and fairly apolitical redistricting commission released its final maps in mid-December.

But it’s only now that the March 11 filing deadline has passed that we can see which longtime members of Congress will be at risk and who won’t.

Garamendi, a former lieutenant governor, looks good, though much of his former district may soon go to fellow Democrat Josh Hawley, who has primarily represented territory just south of his new 13th district. Hawley also seems safe.

But longtime Republican Representative Ken Calvert can’t be so optimistic.

Calvert, an Inland Empire congressman who has represented districts with numbers 42 and 43 since 1993, is now due to run in the new 41st. He manages to keep his hometown of Corona, once near the center of his territory, but that town lies at the far west of his new district. More populous cities are added like Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage, the heart of the Coachella Valley riding that has sent Democrat Ruiz to Washington, DC, since 2013.

Calvert may struggle to defend the new seat, which also includes towns like Anza and Calimesa, but had he been a district in 2020, he would have voted for former President Donald Trump by a 1% margin. The former Calvert neighborhood opted for Trump by 7%.

Ruiz, meanwhile, retains the easternmost parts of the Coachella Valley from his former district centered on Indio, and gets new territory stretching south toward the Imperial Valley and the Mexican border. He looks safe but said he was heartbroken to lose his former district’s unit covering the Palm Springs area to the east.

Who the pair will face next fall will be determined in the state’s “jungle” primary on June 7, where the two leading voters will advance to the November runoff election. So far, Calvert looks set to face tougher competition than Ruiz.

Further west in Orange County’s new 47th District, including towns from Seal Beach in the north to Laguna Beach in the south and swinging inland to take two-term incumbent Orange and Irvine Katie Porter looks like a survivor. She has previously shunned former Democratic congressman Harley Rouda and could face former Republican County Chairman Scott Baugh this fall, but has far more cash on hand than any potential opponent.

In the Sacramento area, current Placer County Republican Rep. Tom McClintock is moving south to a new, super-safe conservative neighborhood that stretches toward the Nevada state line. Current Assemblyman Kevin Kiley, who represents part of northeast Sacramento and its suburbs, and Sacramento County Sheriff Scott Jones will run in June, along with some Democrats. One of them could survive until November if Kiley and Jones essentially split the GOP vote in the new 3rd District. For unknown reasons, Kiley believes the 3.5% recall replacement vote he received in last fall’s gubernatorial recall election qualifies him to advance. But he only polled 15.6% in Placer County, which he represented in the Legislature and is key to the new district’s population.

In the Central San Joaquin Valley, oft-challenged Republican Rep. David Valadao, one of the very few GOP congressmen to vote to impeach Trump in early 2021, will run in a new district that looks even more Latino and Democratic. than his former, where he shared the last two elections with Democrat TJ Cox.

He is expected to face Democratic Congressman Rudy Salas this fall in what could be a close election.

The bottom line is that there are new districts like these all around California, one of the reasons people like Rouda and current Reps like Jerry McNerney and Jackie Speier are coming out of this rat race and retiring.

For people like Calvert and Garamendi, who hadn’t previously had to worry about re-election races, the anxiety that contests bring is unwelcome.

It could also bring newer and more forceful representation to the state, and perhaps even a more unified focus to the entire 52-person congressional delegation.

The primary will begin to tell this story.

Email Thomas Elias at [email protected] His book, “The Burzynski Breakthrough: The Most Promising Cancer Treatment and the Government’s Campaign to Squelch It,” is now available in a softcover fourth edition. For more Elias columns go to

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