Republicans flip another House seat to red in California

Yet another Democrat can be added to the list of House of Representative incumbents who lost in the 2020 election.

Rep. T.J. Cox (D-CA) has been defeated by Republican David Valadao in the race for California’s 21st District, the AP reported Friday.

This will not be Valadao’s first time representing California in Congress. He had actually done so from 2013 to 2019 before losing to Cox in the 2018 midterm elections. Now, Valadao has managed to reclaim his seat.

The 2020 race between Valadao and Cox was a close one with Valadao winning by the narrow margin of 862 votes, one of the narrowest margins in the 2020 elections. Both candidates spent large amounts of money in an attempt to win.

The race

During his campaign, Valadao focused largely on local issues: since the 21st district includes Kern and Fresno counties, this means agriculture. Valadao, himself, is a dairy farmer.

If one were to try to locate Valadao on the political spectrum, he would probably be somewhere in the middle. Valadao has expressed a willingness to work across party lines.

Valadao, after withholding his endorsement in 2016, did come out in support of President Donald Trump this year. But, he also wasn’t afraid to criticize him, at one point blaming the president for the southern border policy that separates families.

Cox tried to exploit Valadao’s endorsement of President Trump as the 21st District is a swing district that 2016 Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton did win by 15 points in the 2016 presidential election. Cox also campaigned on health care and immigration reform, seeking to take advantage of the fact that the 21st District is overwhelmingly Hispanic.  This strategy, however, failed him.

During his campaign, Cox also ran into problems after it was discovered that he had a large amount of unpaid taxes, including $145,000 that he owes to the federal government.

The big picture

In the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats managed to take seven U.S. House seats from Republican incumbents in the state of California. Now, Republicans are poised to take four of those seats back.

In addition to Valadao winning the 21st District, it appears that Republican candidates Mike Garcia will win the 25th District, Young Kim will win the 39th District, and Michelle Steel, the 48th District. These are encouraging results in the deep blue state of California.

Overall, the Democrats lost upwards of a dozen House seats in the 2020 elections. However, it appears they will retain their majority by a slim margin.

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