OAKLAND, Calif. — Control of the House will be decided by a handful of races around the nation, and California alone has at least five whose outcome may hinge on a single issue: abortion.
The Supreme Court decision overturningRoe v. Wade has made Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s home state the place that may ultimately decide whether she continues to swing the House gavel in January — or gives a native son, Kevin McCarthy, a shot at the job.
Support for abortion rights is strong in California, where the Democrats who dominate state government have placed an initiative on the ballot to enshrine access in the state constitution. Prop 1, as it’s known, has support from 69 percent of likely voters.
That’s expected to drive supporters of abortion rights to the polls in a way that will likely hurt GOP candidates in the tighter races, such as those held by Republican incumbents Rep. Mike Garcia in the suburbs at the northern edge of LA and Rep. Ken Calvert, who now must face voters in Palm Springs because of redistricting.
Republican candidates in areas with significant numbers of college-educated voters will be in the most trouble unless they can change the subject to something else, perhaps immigration, says GOP strategist Mike Madrid. “There’s no good answer to abortion,” he said. “On the face of it, when Republicans are talking about the issue, they’re losing.”
Here’s a look at five races to watch:
CA-27 (Garcia vs. Smith): This may be the California district where the fall of Roe could play the greatest role. GOP Rep. Mike Garcia barely held onto the exurban district on the north edges of Los Angeles in 2020, prevailing by a mere 333 votes. Redistricting has painted it bluer. Republican candidates cumulatively finished less than a percentage point ahead of former Assemblymember Christy Smith and other Democrats in the primary.
Smith, shown above, has continued to make abortion a campaign centerpiece.