In some of the state’s most closely watched congressional races, Democrats appeared to be holding firm Tuesday evening in Orange County districts, most notably with Reps. Katie Porter and Mike Levin jumping to strong early leads against Republican challengers, but with a long night of ballot-counting still ahead.
Porter, D-Irvine, squared off Tuesday against former Orange County Republican Party Chairman Scott Baugh, and early returns showed her with 58% of the vote.
Porter told her supporters Tuesday night her campaign was a “fight for a better country, one where our economy is fair and our society is just. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”
Baugh, however, said the race was far from over, telling KTLA5 that early balloting was expected to favor Democrats, but later vote tallies would lean his way.
“We’re on the verge of victory tonight,” Baugh said, adding that voters “want to see a change on inflation, they want to see a change on gas prices.”
“We wanted to put up a fight against Katie Porter,” he said of Republicans, who have been eyeing the 47th District seat as one that could turn from blue to red. “We didn’t think she was right for the district.”
In the 49th District, Levin, D-San Juan Capistrano grabbed an early 56% vote margin over Republican Brian Maryott, a former San Juan Capistrano mayor. The seat was another one that Republicans felt they could wrest away from Democrats.
In other races Rep. Michelle Steel, R-Huntington Beach, faced Democrat Jay Chen in her bid for a second term in the 45th District. The two have been locked in a bitter campaign with both sides accusing each other of racism, and early returns showed them in a virtual dead heat.
Rep. Young Kim, R-Placentia, held a narrow early lead over Democratic physician Asif Mahmood in the 39th District, while Rep. Lou Correa, D-Santa Ana, jumped to a big early lead with 64% of the early vote in his reelection race against Republican attorney Christopher Gonzales in the 46th District.
Correa acknowledged before the vote that “at a national level predictions are tough for Democrats. The issues are inflation and the price of gasoline.”
He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the global economy.
“We’ve had three years of very unprecedented cataclysmic events, we had a pandemic,” Correa said.
Democrats have a lead in registered voters in the county with 682,923, compared to 602,172 for Republicans.
Aside from Congress, Orange County voters cast ballots for three of the five seats on the county Board of Supervisors. Much attention was being focused on the race between Democratic incumbent Katrina Foley and Republican state Sen. Patricia Bates, a former supervisor. That race will decide whether Democrats have a majority on the board.
Early returns showed Foley with 57% of the vote.
Meanwhile, Democrat Doug Chaffee, the county board chairman, held an early lead over fellow Democrat, Sunny Park, while Democratic Santa Ana Mayor Vicente Sarmiento was in a dead heat with fellow Democrat Kim Bernice Nguyen, a Garden Grove councilwoman.