These 6 California Seats Poised to Determine US House Majority in 2024


  • The road to the House majority will play out in a set of highly-competitive California contests.
  • The GOP has faltered in statewide races in California, but they found success with House races in 2020 and 2022.
  • Democrats are looking to flip several GOP-held seats that are much bluer at the presidential level.

California Republicans are often thought as of an endangered species.

But largely through the efforts of former Speaker Kevin McCarthy — a Bakersfield native who stepped down from the House last December — the GOP in recent years has been able to claw back some power in the Golden State by winning a set of highly-competitive swing districts in areas where the party still retains a sizable base of support.

And it is in these districts, from the Central Valley to the outskirts of Los Angeles and down to Orange County, where the House majority will likely be won or lost in 2024.

Republicans currently hold a slim 218-seat majority, a precarious position for the party as the 213-member House Democratic Caucus works to flip the chamber this year.

Here’s a look at the six California congressional districts held by Republicans — five of which were won by President Joe Biden in 2020 — which will have an outsized role in which party holds the speaker’s gavel in 2025:

Young Kim

Rep. Young Kim.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Young Kim, 40th District

First elected to the House: 2020

Kim, a former member of the California State Assembly and onetime aide to former congressman Ed Royce, first ran for Congress in 2018 in hopes of succeeding her longtime boss. But she lost to Gil Cisneros in what was a banner year for Democrats, especially in the suburbs.

With the strong backing of McCarthy and other GOP leaders, Kim ran again in 2020 and defeated Cisneros in a rematch, becoming one of the first Korean-American women to serve in the House. After the 2020 Census, her congressional district, which now includes parts of Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino counties, was reconfigured into one that would have narrowly backed Biden.

Kim won reelection by nearly 14 points in 2022, but Democrats see the contest as winnable. She’ll now take on retired Orange County fire captain Joe Kerr in November.

Michelle Steel

Rep. Michelle Steel.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Michelle Steel, 45th District

First elected to the House: 2020

In 2020, Steel, a former Orange County supervisor, narrowly defeated then-Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda in a district that had long favored Republicans. (Two years earlier, Rouda flipped the district by defeating then-Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, a conservative fixture in Congress.)

Steel has staked out socially-conservative positions on issues like abortion and same-sex marriage, and in 2022, she won reelection over Democratic nominee Jay Chen by nearly 5 points.

But Biden would have won the current configuration of Steel’s district, which includes parts of Orange and Los Angeles counties, by 6 points.

In the November election, Steel will face Democrat Derek Tran, a consumer rights attorney.

Mike Garcia

Rep. Mike Garcia.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Mike Garcia, 27th District

First elected to the House: 2020 special election

Garcia, a former Navy fighter pilot, has proven to be an adept candidate in his northern Los Angeles County-anchored district. In all three of Garcia’s races, including the May 2020 special election triggered by the resignation of Democrat Katie Hill, he defeated former Democratic state lawmaker Christy Smith.

In November 2020, Garcia narrowly defeated Smith by 333 votes out of nearly 340,000 ballots cast (a 0.1% edge), but in 2022 he won by a much more decisive 6 points.

So the district, which would have voted for Biden by 12 points under its new lines, remains a top priority for both parties headed into the 2024 elections. Republicans need to retain a foothold in suburban districts like the 27th to have any shot of retaining their majority, while Democrats see the district as a key pickup opportunity given its bluer lean at the presidential level.

Democrats — including early-endorser Smith — are lined up behind George Whitesides, a former NASA chief of staff and onetime Virgin Galactic chief executive.

Ken Calvert

Rep. Ken Calvert.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

Ken Calvert, 41st District

First elected to the House: 1992

Calvert is the longest-serving California Republican in Congress. A former local GOP county party chair, he’s represented parts of Riverside County in Congress since 1993. His seat spans several Coachella Valley cities, along with parts of the Inland Empire, including Corona.

The 15-term incumbent has been a mostly reliable vote for GOP leadership. Calvert was among the 147 Republicans who voted to overturn at least one state’s election results after the 2020 presidential election.

Calvert won most of his races by large margins before redistricting, and he last faced a truly competitive reelection fight in 2008. But in 2022, Calvert defeated Democrat Will Rollins, a former federal prosecutor, by just under 5 points.

Calvert and Rollins will face off in a rematch this fall.

John Duarte

Rep. John Duarte.

Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

John Duarte, 13th District

First elected to the House: 2022

Duarte isn’t just a Republican in what would have been a Biden-won district in 2020. The businessman and pistachio farmer holds a Central Valley seat in one of the most pro-Biden districts that is currently held by a Republican.

House Democrats have been eager to take shots at Duarte, including his decision to support House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jim Jordan’s onetime bid for the speakership. Jordan failed to win the speakership, eventually paving the way for Speaker Mike Johnson of Louisiana.

In 2022, Duarte defeated Democrat Adam Gray, a former state assembly member, by just 564 votes, in what was one of the closest congressional races in the nation that year.

Duarte and Gray will face each other again in November.

David Valadao

Rep. David Valadao.

Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

David Valadao, 22nd District

House tenure: 2013-2019, 2021-present

Valadao was narrowly booted from Congress during the anti-Trump 2018 wave. Two years later, the wealthy dairy farmer defeated Democratic Rep. TJ Cox in a rematch.

Valadao’s return to Congress was overshadowed by his decision to become one of 10 House Republicans to vote to impeach President Donald Trump in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. Unlike his colleagues, Valadao grew largely silent after the vote. As a result, Trump didn’t train his ire on the Californian to the extent that he targeted the other nine GOP lawmakers.

In 2022, Valadao bested Democrat Rudy Salas, a former state assembly member, by 3 points.

The congressman will face Salas again in the general election.


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