California Midterm Results: The Big Winners and the Races Hanging in the Balance

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As we warned — it was indeed a long night in California.

The two top statewide races were called early for Democrats, with Gavin Newsom ascending to the governor’s mansion and Dianne Feinstein easily winning re-election to the Senate.

But when the clock struck midnight, nearly every contested congressional race was still undecided.

So here’s what we know — and what we don’t.

Mr. Newsom is likely to intensify the fight between the state and the Trump administration on climate change, immigration and health care. But he is also tasked with managing crises at home that have deeply frustrated Californians, including homelessness and extreme income inequality. [Read more about Mr. Newsom’s win here.]

In a banner year for challengers and diversity, Kevin de León, the former Democratic leader of the State Senate, never amounted to a formidable threat to Ms. Feinstein. But watch Mr. de León’s next moves closely — despite the loss, he remains one of the most prominent Latino political leaders.

And for all the money and attention Democrats lavished on newly competitive races in the state, there was no decisive wave cresting.

The clearest Democratic pickup appeared to come in the 49th District, which takes in southern Orange County and northern San Diego, where the longtime Representative Darrell Issa announced plans to retire. Mike Levin, a Democrat and an environmental lawyer, held a five-point margin over Diane Harkey, a Republican and former state assemblywoman.

The Democrats may also have captured a once-unthinkable win in coastal Orange County: The longtime Republican congressman Dana Rohrabacher is trailing the Democrat Harley Rouda, a real estate executive and a former Republican.

Young Kim, a Korean-American Republican, looked as though she would beat the Democrat Gil Cisneros in the 39th District, which includes the inland suburbs of Los Angeles and northern Orange County. The results will undoubtedly be parsed for what they say about Asian-American political influence in the region. In Orange County’s 45th District, just a few thousand votes favored Representative Mimi Walters over her Democratic challenger, Katie Porter, a law professor at University of California, Irvine.

Representative Duncan Hunter appeared set to win re-election despite being under federal indictment after being accused of using nearly a quarter of a million dollars in campaign funds for personal expenses. His campaign came under fire for racist messaging after he called Ammar Campa-Najjar, his Latino-Arab opponent, a national security threat and a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer.

In the conservative-leaning Central Valley, Democrats saw hope in the 10th Congressional District, where just hundreds of votes separated Representative Jeff Denham and Josh Harder, the Democratic challenger. Republicans fared better in other parts of the Central Valley: Representatives Devin Nunes and David Valadao each won re-election, and what worked in these agriculture-heavy districts with large Latino populations could be a guide for other inland parts of the state.

However, the Democrat Katie Hill was leading the Republican incumbent Steve Knight in the 25th District in the northern suburbs near Los Angeles, with more counting to be done.

See the full results for California here.

California Online

(Please note: We regularly highlight articles on news sites that have limited access for nonsubscribers.)

• California counties have 30 days to count and certify votes, meaning congressional results may not be official until Dec. 7. The state switched in recent years to a mail-in ballot system aimed at maximizing turnout, at the cost of speedy results. [The Sacramento Bee]

• Democratic leaders said they would advance sweeping changes to future campaign and ethics laws. The idea, said Representative Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, was to show voters that Democrats are a governing party and not the leftist mob that the president has described. [The New York Times]

• Facebook said it had blocked more than 100 Facebook and Instagram accounts “due to concerns that they were linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency” just hours after most polls had closed on Tuesday. [The New York Times]

What can we expect from the Newsom administration? Here’s what to anticipate on crucial issues such as housing and homelessness, education, health care, the environment, criminal justice and the economy. [CALmatters]

• The 50th District — traditionally one of the state’s reddest — emerged as one of the most peculiar in the nation. [The New Yorker]

• Oil companies spent $8 million trying to block Measure G, a ballot initiative in San Luis Obispo County that would ban hydraulic fracturing and the development of any new oil wells and infrastructure. [Pacific Standard]

• California candidates and political action committees spent more than $1 billion on 2018 political races, new data shows. [The Sacramento Bee]

• A record number of candidates for governor across the nation supported legalizing marijuana. Mr. Newsom became one of the first mainstream Democrats to endorse legalization in 2012, when he was lieutenant governor. [Forbes]

California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: [email protected].

California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.

Inyoung Kang contributed reporting.

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