CA-25 Democrats end a competitive primary by vowing to unite behind Katie Hill, against Trump rubber-stamp Steve Knight.
If there’s one good thing to come out of the moral, ethical, diplomatic and policy disaster that is the Donald Trump presidency, it’s that grassroots Democrats seem determined not to let a Hillary-versus-Bernie battle to the death mentality overtake efforts to turn Congress blue in November.
At least, that’s how it appears in California’s House District 25, in the northern L.A. County-southern Ventura County corner of metropolitan L.A.
Following a generally courteous primary season in which four Democratic candidates focused most of their negative attention on GOP incumbent Rep. Steve Knight, local Democratic clubs, Indivisible groups and other liberal and progressive activist organizations are joining forces to support top Democratic vote-getter Katie Hill as she heads into the November general election.
Although the June top-two primary ended on a slightly sour note when candidate Bryan Caforio abandoned the Dem candidates’ mutual “don’t attack each other” pledge and sent a series of last-minute negative mailers against Hill, virtually all of his primary supporters now appear to be joining Hill’s effort to unseat Knight and hand one of the nation’s “most flippable” districts to the Democrats.
Aside from two diehard Caforio supporters still posting negative messages on local Facebook forums a week ago, Hill’s Facebook page and local political group sites are now heavily populated with statements of support from Democrats who had voted for Caforio or another of Hill’s opponents.
Philip Germain, president of the progressive CA25 UP organization, responded to the Santa Clarita Daily Signal’s June 7 election coverage by posting, “I am confident we will be able to unite and come together to beat Knight in the fall…Unification is our first and most important priority.”
Maya Loch, a Jess Phoenix supporter in the primary, called Hill’s unity message “a classy statement.”
Ryan Chaddick, who didn’t disclose his primary vote, declared, “I think it’s incumbent on all of us to…unify to move beyond Knight… I don’t think we all have to see things the same way to come together for something greater.”
And Logan Smith, a Santa Clarita City Council candidate and Hill supporter, suggested that, “If you feel compelled to write something nasty, type it, delete it instead of posting it, then go outside and do something else. It’s time to be adults and it’s time to be professional. We have work to do, folks.”
Two days later, when local right-winger and known feminist-basher Brian Baker condescendingly described Knight’s opponent as just a “local gal” in a June 9 Signal column, local social media exploded with critiques of Baker and support for Hill.
Jennifer Stokely Eis, a Swing Left activist in the area, posted on Facebook, “Gosh, that’s not sexist at all.”
Bonnie Eaton, who supported Caforio in the primary, declared, “He WHAT? On second thought, what else could we expect from a Neanderthal?”
Gretchen Zovak, who had supported fourth-place finisher Phoenix, reminded readers that, “…all the groups will be there at the Unity BBQ [June 30]…And there will be some co-op events in the future, I’m sure.”
And when a woman following the Facebook discussion suggested “local gal” T-shirts declaring support for both Hill and California Assembly District 38 candidate Christy Smith, Zovak immediately volunteered her design and production services, and pledged all profits to the Hill and Smith campaigns.
Referring to the “local gal” moniker, Hill supporter Kat Walker announced, “We are taking it back, a la ‘Nevertheless She Persisted’ and ‘Nasty Woman’.”
CA25, which voted for Hillary Clinton by more than 6 points in 2016, is considered a top target for one of the 23 seats needed by Democrats to regain control of the U.S. House of Representatives. Its registration is 37 percent Democratic, 33 percent Republican, and 22 percent “no party preference.” Those independents have historically leaned Republican but seem to be moving left this year, given their dissatisfaction with the GOP tax bill and Republican efforts to destroy the Affordable Care Act and cut funding for Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.
GOP incumbent Knight – whose pro-Trump voting record wavers between 97 and 98 percent – voted with Trump and the Republicans on every ACA repeal effort, angering many of his middle of the road constituents who rely on Covered California for affordable health care and access to Medicaid coverage.
Knight further infuriated constituents whose homes were literally being threatened by flames on the day he voted “yes” to the GOP tax bill – legislation that now denies a tax break for fire losses unless they’re covered by a federal national disaster declaration. (The wildfires burning that day did not earn national disaster status.)
And as voter turnout analysis conducted by 36campaigns indicated, Democratic voter activity reflected that exasperation. In a June 16 tweet, the organization reported that, “Voter turnout in 6 #CaliforniaPrimary2018 races for 2018 vs 2014 shows a significant increase in Democratic activity over relatively static Republican involvement.”
In CA25, one of those six districts, Democratic turnout in June increased by a whopping 80 percent over the 2014 primary, while GOP turnout declined by 2 percent.
Local Democrats, determined to further boost voter turnout in November, are already at work in the district, volunteering for weekend voter registration drives hosted by the Hill and Smith campaigns, local Dem club and Indivisible groups, and Swing Left.
San Fernando Valley Indivisible, a 900-plus-member group whose activists include CA25 residents, has invited Hill to its September fall campaign kick-off party, so members can get to know the candidate ahead of fall canvassing activities that SFVI will undertake on her behalf.
To put it simply, local Democrats aren’t waiting for September to start the fall campaign. They’re hard at work now. And unified.