In Defying the Odds, we discuss state and congressional elections as well as the presidential race. Our next book, title TBA, discusses the 2020 results.
Tobias Hoonhout at National Review:
Former state Republican chair Shawn Steel echoed Ryan’s sentiments in an op-ed at the time. “How does a 14-point Republican lead disappear? Merciless and unsparing, California Democrats have systematically undermined California’s already weak voter protection laws to guarantee permanent one-party rule,’’ he wrote, referencing Young Kim’s loss to Democrat Gil Cisneros in Orange County’s open seat for the 39th District.
But in 2020, California Republicans are singing a different tune, even as California governor Gavin Newsom signed a Democrat bill requiring that every registered voter in the state receive a mail-in ballot for the November elections.
Of the seven seats that Republicans lost two years ago, two in Orange County have flipped back to red — Steel’s wife, Michelle Park Steel, won in California’s 48th, while Kim defeated Cisneros in a second try — and Republicans lead by narrow margins in two more.
So what changed?
“I think one of the big areas is ballot harvesting,” California GOP spokesman Hector Barajas told National Review, crediting the pragmatic leadership of state chairwoman Jessica Millan Patterson to emphasize the practice in several key races.
“We were either going to do two different things,” Barajas said of the state party’s shift in attitude. “We were either going to continue to whine, oppose valid harvesting, and lick our wounds after the election, or we were going to figure out the rules, look at the chessboard that was put before us, and figure out how to play the game.”