Republicans’ majority in the House grew Wednesday after news outlets declared another congressional race in California for a GOP candidate.
Republican Kevin Kiley defeated Democratic opponent, Kermit Jones, in a somewhat close race in California’s 3rd Congressional District, according to The Associated Press and other outlets. With about 80 percent of votes tallied, Kiley leads Jones by 16,000 votes, giving him a more than 5-point lead over his opponent.
Now, Republicans have 220 seats in the lower congressional chamber, compared with Democrats’ 212. Although some GOP leaders have been critical of their party’s results during the midterm elections, Republicans will still gain a majority and will have control over the chamber’s committees.
“Voters want a new direction,” Kiley told outlets in an interview last week before his race was called. “The House is going to be the vehicle for effectuating the change voters are looking for.”
Kiley, a state assembly member, argued that California was in turmoil under Democrat rule in Washington and Sacramento, with residents gouged by inflation and made anxious by rising crime. He sought to depict Jones as an eager foot soldier-in-waiting if Democrats kept their majority and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) remained as speaker.
Kiley, who was backed by former President Donald Trump, emerged as a conservative champion for his steady criticism of California Gov. Gavin Newsom, particularly during the 2021 recall election that the governor easily survived. Kiley finished sixth in the field of candidates on the ballot to replace Newsom had voters wanted him removed.
Jones made abortion access a primary feature of his campaign, along with education costs, and homelessness. The 3rd Congressional District spans from the suburbs of Sacramento, much of the Sierra Nevada mountains, and parts of Death Valley.
Earlier this week, fellow GOP candidate Rep. David Valadao (R-Calif.) was projected by The Associated Press to defeat Democrat challenger Rudy Salas for the 22nd Congressional District.
“The Central Valley is my home, and I am once again humbled by the Central Valley’s support and faith in me. Thank you #CA22, time to get back to work!” Valadao, 45, wrote in a statement. Salas issued a statement conceding the race to Valadao, one of 10 House Republicans to impeach Trump in early 2021.
Last week, Kiley drew praise from Trump during his announcement that he’s seeking a 2024 run for president at an event in Mar-a-Lago last week.
“Just a short time ago the Republicans won back control of the House of Representatives, and it was with a great Trump-endorsed candidate, Congressman-elect Kevin Kiley, who is a fantastic person,” Trump said.
He also praised the candidate after he criticized Newsom ahead of last year’s recall election in which the Democrat governor ultimately prevailed. Newsom was also reelected by about 19 percentage points on Nov. 8.
During the recall, Kiley panned Newsom for the state’s lengthy and harsh COVID-19 lockdowns and other policies. Upon taking office, it’s likely he will focus on federal COVID-19 policies.
“Today the White House refused to allow a question to Dr. Fauci about the origins of COVID. This is why the new Congress must demand answers under oath,” he wrote on Twitter on Nov. 22 in response to top White House advisor Anthony Fauci’s final press briefing before he steps down next month. In the White House event, Fauci indicated that he would appear in front of Congress to testify about the virus’s origins.
Where Races Stand
Last week, The Associated Press and other news outlets called the U.S. House in favor of Republicans, meaning that they will have a majority during the next session of Congress starting in January 2023. As of Wednesday, three House races remain uncalled.
In California, Republican John Duarte leads Democrat Adam Gray by about 800 votes with 99 percent of the vote counted, election data shows. Neither Gray nor Duarte have conceded or declared victory.
Alaska’s at-large House race will likely be called soon. Rep. Mary Peltola (D-Alaska), who prevailed in a special election earlier this year, leads two Republicans, former Gov. Sarah Palin and candidate Nick Begich. The state has a ranked-choice system, meaning voters have to rank candidates in the order of preference.
Peltola has 48.7 percent of the vote. Palin has 25.8 percent and Begich has 23.4 percent, according to data as of Wednesday.
Several days ago, Democrat candidate Adam Frisch conceded to Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.) in Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District. That race, however, has not yet been called in favor of Boebert, who leads Frisch by fewer than 600 votes in a closer-than-anticipated contest.
The Senate will stay in the hands of Democrats after Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.) was declared the winner over GOP challenger Adam Laxalt. Meanwhile, a runoff race between Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.) and Republican Herschel Walker will be held for the Georgia Senate seat on Dec. 6.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.