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Democrats Sweep California's Once-Conservative Orange County

Gil Cisneros

With a victory declared for Democrat Gil Cisneros, the county will have no Republicans in the U.S. House.

In Southern California, Democrats have accomplished what was once unthinkable -- turning the conservative Republican stronghold of Orange County blue.

With Democrat Gil Cisneros being declared winner Saturday in the 39th Congressional District over Republican Young Kim, Orange County's entire delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives will be Democratic, the Los Angeles Times reports. There are seven districts that are contained within Orange County or include parts of it.

When the new members are sworn in, it will mark "the first time since the 1930s that the birthplace of Richard Nixon, home of John Wayne and spiritual center of the Republican Party will have no GOP representative in the House," the Times notes.

Some political observers attributed the Democratic sweep to the fact that Orange County, located between Los Angeles and San Diego, has become more racially diverse and socially liberal in recent years -- and Republican officials failed to recognize this.

"They focused only on their right-wing base and didn't do a good job problem-solving," Mimi Padberg, a political strategist who recently switched from Republican to Democrat, told the Times.

But Democrats focused on the issues important to voters, Democratic National Committee chair Tom Perez said in a statement to The Advocate.

"Democrats won because our candidates ran on the issues voters care about most -- expanding access to health care, creating greater economic fairness, and providing a check on the president," Perez said. "Turning Orange County blue is a testament to how when we lead with our values, organize early, and work with our progressive partners and allies, Democrats can win everywhere, even in Reagan country."

Cisneros had trailed Kim until mail-in ballots and other outstanding ones were counted, the Times reports. It means the Democrats now hold 45 of California's 53 U.S. House seats.

The 39th District covers portions of Orange, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino counties. Cisneros and Kim were vying to replace Republican Ed Royce, who is retiring.

The Democratic victories in California resulted in the defeats of some major homophobes, including Orange County's Dana Rohrabacher, who lost to Harley Rouda, and Steve Knight, the last Republican to represent a congressional district in Los Angeles County, who lost to bi candidate Katie Hill.

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