Democrats have labored for years and years and years trying to get California Hispanics registered to vote in greater numbers. Want to know why? Simple– there are 8 Republican-held congressional districts in the Golden State with immense numbers of unregistered Latinos– over a third of the potential voters. Like these:
• CA-21 David Valadao (72.1% Latino)
• CA-22 Devin Nunes (45.9% Latino)
• CA-10 Jeff Denham (40.0% Latino)
• CA-25 Steve Knight (37.9%)
• CA-08 Paul Cook (35.9% Latino)
• CA-23 Kevin McCarthy (35.4% Latino)
• CA-39 Ed Royce (34.6% Latino/28.1% Asian)
• CA-42 Ken Calvert (33.2% Latino)z
And then along came Trumpy. Since he came down the escalator at Trump Towers last year to call Latinos rapists, 1,196,060 California Latinos have newly or re-registered. That's 26.2% all Latino registrants in California. Despite his typically uninformed and ignorant claims he would win California– he's not even polling 30% in the state and is likely to do worse than any Republican, worse even than Alf Landon when he ran against FDR– the real problem for the California Republican Party is not Trump, who they wish didn't exist. It's the down-ballot races in districts like the ones above. Frantically, they got Paul Ryan to do an emergency three-day, 14-stop swing through the state to to help shore up highly vulnerable incumbents, particularly Jeff Denham, David Valadao and Steve Knight, who could all be goners in less than 2 weeks. And Sacramento Bee political reporter, Sean Cockerham, begins his report not in the Central Valley but by talking about how Darrell Issa, the richest person in Congress, may well be defeated– and his district is only about a quarter Latino! White suburbanites, apparently, don't like Trump's anti-Hispanic racism either.
The release of video footage of Trump bragging in explicit terms about groping women has only escalated problems that began with his statements calling Mexican immigrants “rapists.” Nearly 1 in 5 people in Issa’s changing district who’ve registered to vote since California’s June primary are Latino, and there’s no shortage of resentment of Issa’s description of Trump as the “obvious choice” for president.
“The more the word is getting out that Issa is endorsing Trump, it doesn’t bode well for Issa in the Latino community,” said Bill de la Fuente, who works on Latino business development in Issa’s home city of Vista. …California Republicans running for re-election to the U.S. House of Representatives are struggling in the age of Trump, with their challenge intensified by the growing numbers of registered Latino voters. This is Issa’s first tough race since being elected to Congress 16 years ago, and he is not alone.
Rep. Steve Knight, from Lancaster in northern Los Angeles County, also is fighting for his political life as he scrambles to distance himself from Trump, and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sees an opening in the Central Valley congressional district around Modesto, now represented by Republican Rep. Jeff Denham of Turlock, a Trump supporter. The committee is spending nearly $700,000 to unseat Denham, whose district now has a population that is more than 40 percent Latino.
The 11-year-old footage of Trump bragging about groping women, followed by women accusing him of groping, has increased the pressure on California Republicans to the breaking point. Knight – after spending the year refusing to say whether he supports Trump or not– announced after the video’s release that he now “cannot support either candidate for president.”
Denham and Issa condemned Trump’s remarks but neither withdrew support for his presidential campaign. Trump is toxic for any Republican who is running for office, and all of them are worried about what he means for their races, said Kurt Bardella, a former spokesman for Issa who now runs his own consulting firm.
Republican candidates are terrified that Republican voters won’t show up at the polls because they don’t want to vote for either Trump or Hillary Clinton, he said. That’s especially a danger in California, where the U.S. Senate race is between two Democrats, so there’s nothing at the top of the ticket to draw Republicans out to vote other than the presidential race.
“In some of these districts if (Republican) turnout is 5 percent less than it was four years ago then that’s the ballgame,” Bardella said.
…Denham and Knight… represent congressional districts where registered Democrats now outnumber Republicans. Knight, the most vulnerable Republican member of Congress in California, long tried to avoid the Trump issue by refusing to say whether he would vote for the Republican presidential nominee before the video release forced his hand.
Nick Chavez, a third-generation Mexican-American who works in construction in Palmdale, in the high desert an hour’s drive north of Los Angeles, said he hadn’t been impressed with Knight’s waffling over Trump.
“Either put up or shut up,” said Chavez, a registered Republican who is leaning toward voting next month for Knight’s Democratic challenger, Bryan Caforio.
Knight’s district runs from Santa Clarita, a low-key bedroom community of Los Angeles where the surrounding area doubles for the Old West in films and television (scenes from HBO’s “Westworld” were recently filmed there), north along the highway to the working class Antelope Valley cities of Palmdale and Lancaster.
About a quarter of the registered voters in the district are Latino and their registration numbers are growing as the election nears, according to Political Data Inc., a California firm that tracks election data for campaigns.
Caforio’s campaign is on the offensive against Knight for not renouncing Trump until after the groping video was leaked 31 days before the election, with Caforio saying in an interview that Trump is “running the most racist, misogynistic, bigoted campaign in the history of a presidential candidate.”
Knight’s response in an interview to questions about his long silence on Trump was that he’s never before endorsed a presidential candidate and “in this campaign it’s served me well.”
On paper at least, Denham’s fertile San Joaquin Valley district appears even more primed for a Democratic takeover.
The agricultural heart of California, where vast orchards and groves of almonds, walnuts, grapes, oranges and other crops stretch toward the Sierra Nevada mountains, the area is heavily Latino, and Denham and Rep. David Valadao represent districts that are increasingly Democratic.
Al Moncada, a longtime Latino Republican activist from Manteca, said he’d switched his voter registration to independent because of Trump and was a supporter of Denham’s Democratic opponent, Michael Eggman.
Denham “aligned himself with a man that represents everything Republicans have fought against all these years, discrimination and all these things,” Moncada said. “Trump has taken the Republican Party back to slavery years. It is sad, but that’s the way Latinos and African-Americans and other minorities feel.”
…“At this point there’s nothing beneficial that a Republican candidate can say about Trump,” said Dan Schnur, director of the Jesse M. Unruh Institute of Politics at the University of Southern California.
Schnur said it was clear that Trump was dragging down Republicans running for Congress in California, especially after the bombshell release of the video where the Republican presidential nominee brags about groping women.
“That doesn’t mean every Republican congressional candidate will lose, but it means there is a significant downside to having Trump at the top of the ticket regardless of how you handle it,” Schnur said.
Polling is showing that 6 California counties that went for Romney in 2012 are going for Hillary this cycle– Orange, Riverside, Fresno, Nevada, Butte, and Trinity. Even outside the Trump universe, this upsurge in Latino registration could be a boon for other candidates as well. In L.A.'s South Bay, CA-44, Janice Hahn is trying for higher office and she and the rest of the corrupt California Democratic Establishment decided to give her seat in the heavily Latino district (70.5%) to one of their fellow corruptionists, in fact Sacramento's single most corrupt politician, Isadore Hall, a Big Oil-owned conservaDem (endorsed by the New Dems). No one expected any kind of a battle in a district that normally does whatever the Party Politburo tells it to do. But Hahn and Hall and their cronies were stunned when progressive reformer Nanette Barragán put up more than a token battle and can well win this Dem vs Dem– progressive vs conservative– battle royale, where the burgeoning Latino registered voters could well make all the difference in the world. This week La Opinión, California's biggest Spanish language newspaper, ran the ultimate inspirational feature on why Barragán should be the Representative from the 44th. The L.A. Times agreed and also endorsed her and early vote-by-mail ballots have been 33% Latino in the district, the highest, by far, in history, pointing to a possible upset for Hahn and the corrupt party establishment bosses and a win for a progressive Latina in a solid blue district that went for Obama over Romney 85-14%.
“When fascism comes to America, it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross.” — Sinclair Lewis