Failure to Register Voters:  GOP Responsible for Potential Cong. Calvert Loss in November

The new district for long time California GOP Congressman Ken Calvert has gone from plus 7% GOP to an even split.  The Democrats have been registering voters in this district, and area, since November 2020 (not a typo).  The GOP has been talking about voter registration since the same time period.  The good news for Calvert is that Biden is President—the bad news is that the Democrats continue to register voters and the State GOP is still talking about it.

Few around the State are even discussing this race on the GOP side.  Pelosi and her people see it clearly as an opportunity to pick up a seat.  I believe Calvert wins the seat—but it will be hard and in 2024, I will bet he retires and the Dems take the seat.

Inland Rep. Ken Calvert may face tough re-election bid after 30 years in Congress

By JEFF HORSEMAN, The Press-Enterprise, 5/21/22 

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Boyz II Men’s “End of the Road” topped the charts when Rep. Ken Calvert was first elected to Congress.

Thirty years later, Democrats hope this November marks the end of Calvert’s time on Capitol Hill. But while Democrats make up a plurality of the county’s registered voters and Democratic presidential candidates have carried Riverside County since 2008, Calvert, R-Corona, continues to be re-elected by comfortable margins.

This year, Democrats hope a more competitive district hurts Calvert, the Inland Empire’s longest-serving congressman. He faces two Democrats — environmental engineer Shrina Kurani and former federal prosecutor Will Rollins — Republican John Michael Lucio and independent Anna Nevenic in the June 7 primary for California’s 41st Congressional District.

Calvert almost had to contend with a challenge from his right. State Sen. Melissa Melendez, R-Lake Elsinore, pulled papers to run in the 41st, but did not file by the deadline.

The top two vote-getters in June, regardless of party, advance to the November general election. At stake is a seat representing Calimesa, Canyon Lake, Indian Wells, Lake Elsinore, La Quinta, Menifee, Norco, Palm Desert, Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and Wildomar along with parts of Corona, Eastvale and Riverside.

Calvert’s past opposition to same-sex marriage could haunt him in the 41st. Palm Springs is home to a large LGBTQ community and Rollins is openly gay.

Political redistricting, which happens every 10 years, created the 41st. Calvert loses reliably GOP cities in Murrieta and Temecula and goes from a district with a 7 percentage point edge in Republican voter registration to one with a near-even split between Republicans and Democrats; about one in five of the 41st’s voters are no party preference.

Donald Trump won Calvert’s old district by 7 percentage points in 2020, but won the 41st by just 1%, according to political forecaster David Wasserman.

“All signs point toward both major parties treating this as a battleground district,” Marcia Godwin, a professor of public administration at the University of La Verne, said via email.

The national political climate could help Calvert. The president’s party tends to lose seats in midterm elections, and nonpartisan forecasters expect Republicans, buoyed by President Joe Biden’s unpopularity and voter angst over inflation, to win control of the House of Representatives and possibly the Senate.

The Cook Political Report and Inside Elections, which study House races, rate the 41st as “Likely Republican.”

Kurani and Rollins think Calvert is vulnerable.

“I think people are ready for change,” Kurani said. “People are tired. They’re looking for someone who’s gonna cut through the nonsense and focus on the facts and can actually get things done.”

Republicans and Democrats in the 41st “want someone who’s gonna work hard for our communities, and Calvert has consistently failed to do that for the last 30 years,” Rollins said. “He’s never had a congressional district as competitive as the new one is … .”

Calvert isn’t worried. “I wouldn’t do this unless … I felt like I would have a good opportunity of winning and I think that’s no different today,” he said.

Nevenic has run for Assembly, state Senate and Palm Springs school board. She’s running for Congress because “I am driven by higher purpose,” she said. “Many (voters), when I say I’m nonpartisan, they say ‘Great.’ Because many of them are disgusted with both parties.”

A Navy veteran who handles construction projects for companies renovating office buildings, Lucio said he decided to run after being unsatisfied with Calvert’s response to the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol insurrection. Calvert voted against certifying Arizona’s and Pennsylvania’s election results.

“It was people in essence trying to overthrow the government … (and) our Constitution and I would have expected him to be vocal about that,” Lucio said. “I’m running as a Republican, but I’m probably more Democrat. My entire image I’m putting out there is purple. If there were Democrats that I thought could beat Calvert, I probably never would have done this.”

A third Democrat, Brandon Mosely, planned to run in the 41st but dropped out in March.

Calvert enters the primary with the most money. His campaign announced it raised almost $600,000 in the first three months of 2022 and had $1.356 million in cash on hand.

Rollins raised $462,000 in the first quarter of this year — a record, his campaign said, for any Calvert opponent — and had $617,000 in the bank as of March 31. Kurani raised $412,000 and had just under $208,000 going into April.

The GOP establishment is firmly behind Calvert, while Rollins’ endorsers include Lt. Gov. Eleni Kounalakis, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, Rep. Mark Takano, D-Riverside, and former U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer. Kurani’s endorsements include Riverside City Council Members Clarissa Cervantes and Gaby Plascencia, Eastvale City Council Member Jocelyn Yow and Riverside Unified School District board member Angelov Farooq.

Calvert also asked for and received Trump’s endorsement.  “If he was the president today, I would think half the problems we have right now wouldn’t be around,” the congressman said.

Kurani and Rollins hope Trump’s endorsement works in their favor. “The fact that Trump has endorsed Calvert is really showing his true colors,” Kurani said.

When Trump says jump, “Ken Calvert says ‘How high?’ ” Rollins said.

Democrats also hope their voters will be motivated if the Supreme Court, as expected, allows states to ban abortion. Calvert, who is pro-life, doesn’t think abortion will be an issue in the 41st.

“Going back to the states is not denying abortion. It just brings it back to the democratic process … obviously things in California are not going to change,” said Calvert, adding he doesn’t think a GOP-controlled Congress would pursue a nationwide abortion ban.

Congress needs more women and Calvert “refuses to give women the respect and the dignity that we deserve,” Kurani said.

California women “are not safe if Republicans with extreme views take both houses of Congress and people like Ken Calvert get their wish for a national federalized abortion ban,” Rollins said.

On the campaign trail, Kurani and Rollins promote themselves as pragmatic problem solvers focused on everyday concerns.

“As an engineer and as a sustainability scientist, I’ve spent my career working to reduce waste and create quality jobs,” Kurani said. “We need experts who know how to actually act on climate and are focused on solving those problems of (transitioning) large industries in California to renewable energy.”

Rollins said he grew up in a family of Republicans and Democrats “and (I) care deeply about our institutions and bringing Americans together … I want to go to Republican town halls and hear from people in Republican town halls who disagree with me. I want to know when people think I’m wrong.”

If elected, Rollins said he’d fight for lower taxes for working families and “higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy in the United States who have paid far too little for far too long.”

As an independent, Nevenic said she can be more focused on problem solving than partisan politicians who spend their time “dialing for dollars.”

“I am very concerned about many issues — health care inequality, the opioid crisis, mental illness, crime — it’s all connected,” said Nevenic, who favors hotel-like housing with support services for the homeless, tuition-free community college and vocational training and auditing public agencies to get rid of wasteful and redundant spending.

If elected, Lucio said he would focus on helping veterans.

“I would have no problem serving on a January 6th-type committee. I would have no problem standing up for voting rights and women’s rights,” he said. “I think I’m very much a Republican when it comes to the fiscal side of it. But I think it’s got to be a responsible fiscal attitude … (when) the Republicans are in charge … they spend like drunken sailors.”

Voter turnout for the primary “will be critical for party leaders to see where no party preference voters lean,” Godwin said.

“A strong showing by Calvert could lead Democrats to reconsider whether to target the race. All indications are, though, that control of the House is so vital that there will be more high-spending races this year.”

About Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the publisher and editor of California Political News and Views. He speaks all over California and appears as a guest on several radio shows each week. He has also served as a guest host on radio talk shows. He is a fulltime political consultant.

Comments

  1. The fact that demoncrats can register voters for their party in these times completely exposes how stupid some in our society have become.

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