NEWPORT BEACH, Calif. — In a tough year for Democrats, Republican Scott Baugh is trying to bring this Orange County swing borough back to its GOP roots after leaving his party.
But navigating a culturally-shifting region, he’s now suspicious of a Republican party transformed by Donald Trump and a rising Democratic star in two-year Rep. Katie Porter, who, as one Republican activist lamented, is “more money than God.” Has”.
“I wouldn’t run if I didn’t think it was winnable,” Baugh said in an interview at his Newport Beach campaign office. “Yes, we can return it.”
Baugh, a former OC GOP chairman and state congressman, acknowledged that his fundraising deficit with Porter was “pretty disheartening.” He told the volunteers that “it’s going to be a low-turnout election and one of the challenges is: how do we get our voters to vote?”
California’s new 47th district sits at the nexus of crosscurrents shaping the 2022 election. While economic pain and President Joe Biden’s unpopularity threaten Democrats’ hold on power, cultural issues such as abortion and Trump’s continued hold on the party could limit GOP prospects in the suburbs.
A Porter defeat would herald a red wave. Conversely, a republican failure This could indicate that voters who left the GOP in well-educated and suburban counties are not coming back, limiting the party’s gains. The race is a top Republican target in the fight for House control, and the Democrats’ campaign arm has listed Porter as a “frontline fighter” in defending their majority.
“Orange County is so often a showcase for national politics. Will there be a way back for these moderate, affluent, right-of-centre suburban voters given how much the current Republican agenda has done to alienate them?” said Graeme Boushey, a professor of political science at the nearby University of California , Irvine. “I am skeptical that there is a way back. But we can never downweight paperback editions.”
The Republican strategy is to make this and other Orange County races a referendum on an unpopular president and rising prices, but Porter argues their rival has no plan to combat rising gas and food prices other than “nicknames ‘ to hurl.
“Look, I live here. I raise my children here. I drive around here in my minivan and fill up the same gas tanks. I go to the same grocery stores,” Porter told NBC News during an interview in Huntington Beach. “This is a big problem and we have to fight it on several fronts.”
The answer to rising costs, Porter said, is to pass the recent deal between Democrats that authorizes Medicare to negotiate drug prices, invest in U.S. manufacturing through the recent chips law, and end “price gouging, including by big oil companies.” fight.
To bring prices down, Baugh said lawmakers should increase the supply of goods, “stop spending so much” and balance the budget.
“You need to reform claims” like Social Security and Medicare, which have too many “unfunded liabilities,” he continued, and he said raising the retirement age “should be one of the tools you need to use” as part of a legislative compromise cut safety net spending.
When asked about the key differences between him and Porter, Baugh said, “She voted on spending totaling $20 trillion. I would not have voted on all of these expenses.”
One economic issue Porter and Baugh agree on is the expansion of state and local tax deductions on federal tax returns, capped at $10,000 in the 2017 Republican tax law, which has hit blue states like California particularly hard.
A Controversy Over “Orange County Values”
Porter recently voted with her party to codify federal protections for legal abortions in the Women’s Health Protection Act and same-sex marriages in the Respect for Marriage Act. She also voted in favor of a law that would ban assault weapons.
Baugh said he would vote against all of these bills if he were a congressman.
“Basically, I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “I have no problem with social arrangements or social contracts and all that.”
On the abortion law, Baugh said: “I would never support that. I believe life begins at conception.” He advocated federal restrictions after the first trimester of pregnancy, citing laws in European countries.
Baugh expressed sympathy for red flag legislation to address gun violence but not for the other provisions Congress has been considering, saying, “You’re not going to solve the gun violence problem in this country by helping law-abiding Americans.” deprive the constitutional rights.”
Porter defended their votes as an expression of their districts’ values.
“I think Orange County values things like freedom and respect for others. And that means allowing individuals to make their own choices about who they want to love, about when and if they want to start a family, including having an abortion,” she said. “And we value safety.”
Baugh said he paid no attention to the Jan. 6 House public hearings, dismissing them as “a bit of a sham show” that voters didn’t care about. But when asked if he believed Biden was legitimately elected president, Baugh said, “I do.”
“He won the electoral college and the election was confirmed. That makes him President of the United States. Does that mean it was a perfect choice? No,” he continued, without saying if he thinks voter fraud contributed to the result: “I have no way of knowing.”
Regarding the GOP’s objections to the counting of the Pennsylvania and Arizona electoral votes, Baugh declined to say how he would have voted on Jan. 6, 2021. “I’m not going to speculate about what I would have done. Had I been able to ask those questions and get those answers, I could give you a definitive answer,” he said. “But not me.”
“Heavy Commuter Districts”
Porter’s district borders three competing Orange County districts held by Democratic Assemblyman Mike Levin and Republican Assemblymen Michelle Steel and Young Kim. The Cook Political Report rates Porter and Levin’s races as “lean Democrats.” Steel’s race is classified as “slender Republican” and Kim’s as “probably Republican” in redrawn maps.
“These are commuter-heavy counties and the political fortunes of OC are heavily dependent on the economy, especially gas prices. The high-tax rebellion was a recipe for success for the Republicans here,” said Dave Wasserman, Cook’s top house racing expert. “Of the cultural issues, abortion has the greatest potential to save suburban Democrats, including Porter and Levin.”
The results of those races could depend on undecided voters, like Andrew Lewis, a Newport Beach hotel worker who has “no idea” whether he’ll support Porter or Baugh.
He describes himself as a social liberal and tax conservative. He feels constrained by rising prices. He advocates abortion rights and stricter gun laws. But he’s not a fan of Biden — or the GOP.
“I’m more in the middle,” Lewis said. “I feel like both parties – I like some of the things.”
Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, DN.Y., chairman of the House Democratic Campaign Committee, said the Orange County races are a “choice” between “common sense” and a pro-Trump movement “that Roe v. Wade, ignores school shootings and tries to whitewash the Capitol attack.”
“This is an election that Republicans will lose,” he said. “The Republican MAGA movement is not in tune with swing voters in the suburbs.”
And Rep. Tom Emmer, R-Minn., the chair of the GOP campaign arm, hinted in a statement that Republicans will continue to point to economic pain.
“Californiaans are fed up with record inflation and paying the highest gas prices in the country,” Emmer said. “You know the only way to stop the madness is to vote Republican in November.”
https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2022-election/key-swing-district-katie-porter-clashes-gop-opponent-inflation-orange-rcna40843 In a key swing district, Katie Porter clashes with GOP opponent over inflation and “Orange County values.”