Republican Kiley Captures California US House Seat

 Republican Kevin Kiley, a state legislator who became a conservative favorite for his pointed and relentless criticism of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, captured a U.S. House seat Tuesday in northeastern California.

With 83% of ballots counted, Kiley received nearly 53% of the votes to defeat Democrat Kermit Jones, a doctor and Navy veteran.

The win will pad the margin of Republican control in the House. The GOP seized the majority from Democrats last week when California Rep. Mike Garcia was re-elected and gave the party its 218th seat. With Kiley’s victory, the tally stands at 220 Republicans and 212 Democrats.

“Voters want a new direction,” Kiley said in a post-election interview last week as he awaited results in the 3rd Congressional District that runs from the Sacramento suburbs down the interior spine of the state. “The House is going to be the vehicle for effectuating the change voters are looking for.”

Even with the win, Republicans will remain a small minority within the state’s congressional delegation. Of the 52 seats — the largest delegation in Congress — GOP candidates had captured just 11 districts with one race still too early to call.

The leading issues in Kiley’s race mirrored House and Senate campaigns around the country.

Kiley, a state Assembly member, argued that California was in turmoil under Democratic 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 stayed in the job.

Kiley emerged as a conservative champion for his steady criticism of 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.

Click here to read the full article in AP News

Rep. Katie Porter’s Sweet UC Irvine Housing Deal Raises Eyebrows

Houses in Orange County go for $1 million, but Porter snagged one for half that with the help of some college friends

Although Orange County Congresswoman Katie Porter represents an area where houses typically sell for $1 million, Porter’s four-bedroom, three-bath in a sweet subdivision of the University of California Irvine campus is a steal at $523,000, the Associated Press reports.

The Democrat and law professor didn’t just luck into a good deal on a house. She purchased it in 2011 at below-market price through an arrangement in which the university helps out academics who couldn’t otherwise “afford to live in the affluent area.” There is only one eligibility requirement—that Porter continue to work for UC Irvine and meet with students.

But some are raising their eyes since this high-class subsidized housing continues even though she’s spent years away from the classroom. Porter taught for eight years, and then left for Congress after she was elected in 2018. That’s when she first took unpaid leave from her teaching job—which paid $258,000 a year—to serve in the House of Representatives.

Emails obtained by AP show Porter had at least one person working on her behalf, a law school administrator who had donated to her political campaign and “helped secure extensions of her tenure while she remained in Congress.”

Administrators agreed to two separate one-year periods of leave that enabled Porter to keep her house, AP’s documents show. School officials, however, started questioning the arrangement as her 2020 reelection.

“Is there any fixed limit on the number of years of leave without pay… One of our administrators mentioned that they seemed to recall a two-year limit,” law school Vice Dean Chris Whytock, who donated $500 to Porter’s 2018 campaign, wrote in a April 2020 email, adding, “Some government service may, of course, last for a number of years.”

Whytock wrote a memo outlining the case for extending Porter’s leave, according to AP, while suggesting that there are no limits on how long such an arrangement could continue. The plan required the approval of the school’s vice provost, which was granted in 2020, according the the emails.

Whytock did not return AP’s request for comment.

Porter did not address whether or not her housing arrangement was kosher in an interview with AP, but she said she “followed the applicable [University of California] policies, as well as all applicable state and federal law.”

“I am always happy to be transparent with voters,” Porter said. “I take a lot of pride in my record on transparency and good governance and have been asked about this before by voters and have always been happy to give them full and complete information.”

Porter’s housing situation does not violate U.S. House ethics rules. Porter will seek a third term in November.

Click here to read the full article in Los Angeles Magazine

Midterm forecast: Gas prices get GOP control of U.S. House

If control of the House of Representatives flips to the Republicans this fall, economist Jim Doti thinks he found the issue driving political change: the gas pump.

Chapman University’s veteran economic forecaster was trying to see which historic economic, demographic or voting patterns factors might provide numerical hints for November’s midterm elections in which control of the House is at stake.

Doti’s formula suggests Republicans will gain control of the House by flipping 53 of the legislative body’s 435 seats to the GOP side of the political aisle in November. The flip isn’t terribly stunning considering the party controlling the White House has lost an average 27 seats in midterms since World War II. And over the July 4th weekend, forecasters at fivethirtyeight.com gave the GOP an 87% chance of winning the House in the first fall projection for 2022.

Political track records are not fool-proof prognostications of future election results. But Doti was startled to discover the pivotal vote-changer that’s bad news for President Joe Biden and his Democrats: record-high gasoline prices.

“First of all, let me say that this was a big surprise to me,” Doti says.

Price points

Pain at the pump was not on Doti’s mind when he started the research with fellow Chapman professor Fadel Lawandy. He was betting big vote swings followed inflation, which in 2022 is running at 40-year highs.

But when the professors looked at voting patterns vs. traditional measures of the cost of living, such as the Consumer Price index, Doti said “I found nothing, even when you look at some of our high inflationary periods.”

So gasoline prices were input into his formula, and to the professors’ astonishment, fuel inflation was a significant political driver. The out-of-power party gained more House midterm seats when gasoline was pricier.

Equally noteworthy were the only two times the party in the White House grew its political base in the House at the midterms — Bill Clinton’s second term (1998) and George W. Bush’s first term (2002).

Gas prices were falling in both of those outlier periods.

So why is gasoline — a relatively modest expense for many Americans — such a political flash point? It’s the simplicity of the economic measurement.

“People every week fill the tank. They see these big prices,” Doti says. “It’s not like reading the CPI. Or reading the Wall Street Journal. It’s affecting their pocketbook, and they get it. They’re agitated.”

Bad start

Doti’s research shows the Democrats start the midterm political season in a weak position.

The model revealed Democrats’ modest House advantage — it’s currently only a 10-seat edge — translates to 10 seats lost come November.

Biden’s unpopularity doesn’t help. The president scored a low approval rate of 41% in May, according to Gallup. That compares with an average of 51% at the same moment for presidents since WWII. The Chapman formula says that adds up to nine more lost Democratic seats.

Yes, there’s decent economic growth — Biden’s 2.8% gross domestic product expansion is better than the 2.5% post-WWII average. But that earns Democrats only one seat by this math.

And a Republican winning Virginia’s governorship — an election that’s proven to be a leading indicator of political fortunes — translates to a six-seat House pickup for the Republicans, says the formula.

Then ponder gas prices — up 61% in a year vs. average hikes of 2.5% annually. That pump pain is worth 29 seats for the Republicans — literally giving them the House if this Chapman forecast is correct.

You don’t need an economics doctorate to understand that if folks vote with their wallets, gas prices are an obvious winner for Republicans. And a psychology degree isn’t required to comprehend the emotional response gas prices can create — and voters often act with their hearts.

To me, though, what will be intriguing to watch is what voters think this fall about topics hard to quantify. The Supreme Court’s actions on reproductive rights or gun control. Or the hearings into the January 6 insurgency.

I’ll note that 1974’s midterms — when the Republicans controlled the White House and lost 48 House seats — were the party’s second-worst outcome since World War II. By the way, the 50 seats lost in Dwight Eisenhower’s second term in 1958 was the GOP’s biggest drop.

What was up in 1974?

Gas prices jumped 33% to 53 cents per gallon. Inflation ran at 11%. But Richard Nixon also resigned from the presidency. Oh, and it was the first midterm election after the Supreme Court made abortion a right in every state in Roe vs. Wade.

Sketchy tale

Doti tells the tale of a recent visit to a Chapman University graphic design class.

Students were assigned to draw a political cartoon. Doti was there to provide some economic background highlighting the nation’s inflation challenges.

And what was the theme of the graphic professor’s favorite cartoon from the assignment? A humorous sketch of a gas station where the price was artfully displayed at $18.89 a gallon.

“That brings home the fact people see it, it’s transparent,” Doti says of the fuel pump’s political power. “The analysis clearly shows gas prices affect how people vote in midterm elections — but not the overall trend in consumer prices.”

Click here to read the full article in the OC Register

‘Operation Just Reward’: A Tale for the Ages

Something’s afoot in Washington that dovetails almost eerily well with the invigorating cultural moment we have found ourselves in once again courtesy of Tom Cruise and the makers of the “Top Gun” film franchise.

As we drive irresponsibly on the way home from movie theaters, calculating whether or not we are too old to actually join the Navy and fixate anew on the folklore that has always surrounded our nation’s most elite military aviators, a great, bipartisan thing is shaping up in Congress (believe it or not!). Something which will hopefully culminate in an even greater thing happening very soon in a White House ceremony.


In the midst of a determined campaign by retired military officials of all stripes dubbed “Operation Just Reward” that’s had its ups and downs mostly due to bureaucratic nonsense, Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican, has grabbed the reins, built an impressive bipartisan coalition of fellow lawmakers, and introduced H.R. 5909 to fast-track the effort to authorize the president to give one of the greatest combat pilots the world has known, retired 97-year-old Capt. E. Royce Williams, just that in the form of the Congressional Medal of Honor.

The tale of Capt. Williams’ real-life heroics and the reason why it has taken so long to secure for him the United States government’s highest and most prestigious military decoration could fit right in with the “Top Gun” franchise, should Mr. Cruise and company feel the urge to have another go. His story is long, intense and perhaps more fantastical than even the best Hollywood screenwriters could conjure.

As an aside, the very first commanding officer of the Navy’s advanced fighter tactics program that came to be called TOPGUN, retired Rear Adm. Roger Box, simply referred to him in an email exchange as “the most remarkable fighter pilot alive.” From what I can tell that sentiment seems very much to be shared in most relevant quarters. 

Here’s the gist: 70 years ago this Nov. 18, one of the greatest and certainly the hardest-won dogfighting triumphs in military aviation history took place in international waters off the Korean coast. On that day, 27-year-old Williams found himself suddenly alone in the sky in his F9F-5 Panther, staring down seven superior Russian MiG-15s who had come to eat his lunch and move on to sink his nearby carrier, the USS Oriskany.

By any clear-headed calculation, lunch-eating is exactly what should have happened at that moment. Except it didn’t. What did ensue was a fierce 35-minute dogfight (note that most last mere seconds, and in exceptional cases have lasted up to five minutes) which ended with Williams safely back on the deck of the now-safe Oriskany after a dicey landing, 263 bullet holes and a 37-millimeter shell gash in his crippled Panther. 

It didn’t end quite as well for at least for six of the seven MiGs that set out to dispatch the outgunned American, as only one of them returned to base. 

Though one of the most extraordinary feats in the history of military aviation had just happened, there was no celebration and no dramatic recounting from Capt. Williams to his shipmates. Quite the contrary. A frank conversation and handshake with his admiral was intended to be the last time the mission would be spoken of.

Turns out the circumstances and detail surrounding the dogfight, which ended so badly for the Soviets, contained a level of sensitivity that necessitated immediate top-secret classification. No one outside of a very small cadre of individuals knew a whiff of it for over 50 years until the Soviet Union fell and it was reported out of their archives. One of those in the loop, Dwight D. Eisenhower, was president-elect of the United States at the time. Eisenhower summoned Capt. Williams for a visit and a drink during a dramatic pre-inaugural fact-finding visit to Seoul because he wanted to meet the young aviator. Yet even in that rarified setting, the mission was not discussed.

When the U.S. government finally declassified it all in December of 2017, no one was more surprised than Capt. Williams’ wife and his brother — a fellow elite military aviator with whom he shared a long-running friendly pilots’ rivalry.

Capt. Williams had gone half a century without breaking his promise to his admiral. Half a century keeping secret something that could bring him immediate fame, fortune and a place among the greatest aviators in history. As 146 of his fellow Korean War heroes were honored and celebrated with well-deserved Medals of Honor, he was content with his Silver Star, knowing full well that an upgrade was out of the question for national security reasons.

But as Mr. Issa says, “America owes Williams a debt of gratitude that can never be repaid, and we won’t stop fighting until he is at least given the proper recognition he has not sought but richly deserves.”

Thanks to Mr. Issa’s laudable efforts to force the issue (remember, Capt. Williams is 97 and we don’t have all the time in the world here) and thanks to the longtime determination of his “Operation Just Reward” comrades plus the endorsements of over 100 retired general officers and admirals, The American Legion, Distinguished Flying Cross Society, Special Operations Association of America and others, the most deserved and overdue military honors upgrade of all time may well be imminent. 

Click here to read read the full article in the Washington Times