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Two California Congressmen Aligned with Trump Lose Seats
Tony Thurmond Edging Marshall Tuck for State Superintendent as More Ballots Are Tallied

November 15, 2018

On election night (Nov. 6), candidate Marshall Tuck was leading candidate Tony Thurmond by some 86,000 votes in the race for State Superintendent of Public Instruction, and appeared headed for victory.

But in the days that followed, as county election departments up and down the state processed vote-by-mail ballots that were turned in at polling places on election day, as well as vote-by-mail ballots postmarked by election day, and provisional ballots cast at polling places on election day, those numbers began to shift.

A majority of the last-minute ballots were in Thurmond’s favor, and with each passing day, Tuck’s lead over Thurmond narrowed by several thousand votes, as more of the outstanding ballots were tallied.

On Monday (Nov. 12), Thurmond’s vote tally surpassed Tucks, putting Thurmond in the lead. And that lead widened as more ballots were tallied on Tuesday (Nov. 13), with Thurmond holding a substantial 74,000 vote advantage over Tuck (50.5 percent for Thurmond vs. 49.5 percent for Tuck).

The Tuck/Thurmond race is still considered “too close to call,” and there are still several million more vote-by-mail and provisional ballots yet to be counted. But the trend appears to be in Thurmond’s favor - each day, as additional vote-by-mail and provisional ballots are added to the tally, Tuck’s early lead on election night has faded into what is looking more and more like a narrow win for Thurmond, who’s lead over Tuck has continued to widen since Monday.

Thurmond - who maintains that Tuck outspent him by a two-to-one margin during the campaign - on November 7 that “With millions of ballots left to come in, we are digging in and waiting for every vote to be counted.”

As of the morning of Wednesday (Nov. 14), Tuck had not issued a statement regarding the vote tally.

Tuck and Thurmond are both registered as Democrats. But Tuck is substantially closer to the policy positions of Nancy DeVos, the Trump Administration’s controversial Secretary of Education, as compared to Thurmond (a frequent critic of DeVos). Tuck’s campaign had been largely funded by charter school advocates and wealthy businessmen who often dubbed themselves “education reformers.” Thurmond’s campaign relied heavily on support from the California Teachers Association and other labor groups.

Thurmond’s surge as vote-by-mail and provisional ballots were counted in the days following November 6 is similar to the way several other contests around California played out.

In California’s conservative-leaning 10th Congressional District (including the San Joaquin Valley cities of Modesto, Manteca, Tracy and Turlock, Rep. Jeff Denham - a four-term Republican incumbent -- held a narrow lead on election night. But as more ballots were tallied after election day, Democratic challenger Josh Harder caught and passed Denham, and on November 13, the Associated Press and the Cook Political Report both called the race in Harder’s favor (51.3 percent for Harder, 48.7 percent for Denham.) Denham’s close association with President Donald Trump cost Denham the endorsement of the Modesto Bee. (The newspaper had previously endorsed Denham over Democratic opponents in three previous elections).

And in Orange County - once considered a conservative Republican stronghold - longtime Republican incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrbacher (a Republican who had represented portions of Orange County in the House of Representatives for 30 years) appeared to be leading narrowly on election night, but was ultimate toppled by challenger Harley Rouda (a longtime Republican who switched parties because he could not support Trump) as last minute vote-by-mail and provisional ballots were counted in the days following November 6. Rohrbacher had taken criticism during the campaign for his close association with Trump, his many favorable comments about Russian leader Vladimir Putin (earning Rohrbacher the nickname “Putin’s Best Friend in Congress”), and his suggestion that climate change could have been caused by dinosaurs farting, as well as his statement that the death of an anti-fascist protester during last year’s white supremacist march in Charlottesville, Virginia was a “total hoax.”

And inĀ  the 49th congressional district (representing portions of Orange County and San Diego) ten-term Republican Rep. Darrell Issa did not seek re-election -- was nominated in September by President Trump as director of the United States Trade and Development Agency. Voters in the 49th district elected Democratic candidate Mike Levin, an environmental attorney, beating Republican candidate Diane Harkey (who had been endorsed by President Trump). It was a fairly easy victory for Levin, who got 55 percent of the vote, compared to 45 percent for Harkey.

Based on the November 6 election results, it appears that Democrats may soon be representing five of the seven congressional districts in Orange County, all of which were generally considered “safe Republican seats” not so many years ago.

Source: EdBrief staff

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