The California 7

Joel Fox
Editor and Co-Publisher of Fox and Hounds Daily

The political question facing the seven California congressional Republicans who are holding vulnerable seats is why did they jump aboard the American Health Care Act when up to the last day a number of them were undecided or leaning against the bill?

First, let’s please agree that reaction of both Democrats and Republicans to the health care vote has been over the top and premature. Lots will happen before the 2018 election. The American Health Care Act may not be the law at that time or may become law in a much-amended form. No one can be certain of its impact.

The only thing substantial so far is that fund-raisers from both sides are happy because they can raise dough for or against candidates based on last week’s vote.

Still, the seven Republicans, Jeff Denham (Turlock), Darrell Issa (Vista), Steve Knight (Palmdale), Dana Rohrabacher (Costa Mesa), Ed Royce (Fullerton), David Valadao (Hanford), Mimi Walters (Irvine), have already been hit with campaign rhetoric that may be useless come election time. The bill passed by only four votes so if the bill does become law, and the act plays out as critics claim, then an argument will be made that the California 7, sticking with the party, made the difference in the bill passing. But a lot will happen between now and the election.

Putting aside the policy behind the act, why did all seven make the political choice to come aboard? Here are some educated guesses.

First, the Democratic campaign machine, well before a vote on repealing the health bill, already targeted these seven Republican members. Democratic strategists felt changing demographics and the fact that Hillary Clinton did well against Donald Trump in these congressional districts would lead to flipping the seats next election. The arm-twisting vote counters on the Republican side emphasized that the Democrats won’t let up on the targeted members no matter how they voted on the bill. You are already a target, so vote for a Republican victory, they argued.

Besides, the persuaders would assert, you don’t want to be intimidated every time the Democrats say boo.

I’m sure that the Republicans were told that the Republican campaign committees would be there with resources for them to support their re-election efforts. Even if the seven congressional members are vulnerable, none will be pushovers and promises of heavy ammunition can help them win out.

Remember, that one of the leading House Republicans and vote-counters is majority leader Kevin McCarthy. He’s a Californian and will work hard to preserve the Republican California seats in Congress.

Then there is this analysis from Darry Sragow and Rob Peyers of the Target Book. While Clinton may have done well against Trump in the districts held by the seven Republican congressional members, on other issues contested in the 2016 election, voters in those districts showed a decidedly conservative bent. In a majority of these districts voters opposed the school bond, supported voter approval on revenue bonds, rejected repeal of the death penalty, and opposed the ban on single use plastic bags.

One legislative vote in May of 2017 on a bill that has not yet become law does not make an election result in November 2018.

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