These 3 must-watch races in California could flip Congress blue


Will voters finally say 'nyet' to Putin's favorite congressman?

Control of Congress could very well come down to a handful of races in Southern California. Democrats are aiming to gain at least 23 seats to regain control of the House of Representatives. California could make or break that dream.

48th Congressional District

Will this coastal Orange County district send Putin's favorite congressman back to Congress? Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is perhaps best known for his unseemly ties to Russia, and is running in a close race against businessman Harley Rouda.

Rohrabacher's ties to Russia include dining with an alleged Russian spy, and his own Republican colleagues suggesting he is on Putin's payroll. Rohrabacher regularly spewed debunked far-right conspiracy theories about hacking in the 2016 election, and even said U.S. intelligence agencies were lying about Russia's involvement.

But Rohrabacher's scandals extend much further.

During the campaign, Rohrabacher stood by comments supporting housing discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Rohrabacher's racist statements on immigration mirror Trump's, and Rohrabacher has a habit of habit of hanging out with Holocaust-denying conspiracy theorists.

In Congress, Rohrabacher voted against health care protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and spent the end of the campaign lying to constituents about his position.

Rouda made it through a crowded Democratic primary, at times urging voters to vote for him to "Piss off Putin." Rouda has pledged to protect the Affordable Care Act, not sabotage it like Rohrabacher has repeatedly tried to do.

Election experts are split, either rating the race a toss-up or giving a slight edge to Rouda.

25th Congressional District

This district covers northern Los Angeles County and includes Palmdale and Santa Clarita. Rep. Steve Knight is a Republican and two-term incumbent. Even though he voted for Trump in 2016 and backed the Trump agenda 99 percent of the time, Knight is desperate to paint himself as a moderate in this swing district.

Knight has been hobbled by his votes against the popular Affordable Care Act, including multiple votes to dismantle protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions. Knight voted for what the AARP dubbed an "age tax," which would have increased the cost of health care for older residents aged 50-64. And he wanted to kick 23 million people off of their health insurance.

Knight also voted for the unpopular Republican tax plan, which raised taxes on some of his constituents while showering wealthy Wall Street corporations with billions in tax breaks.

In the closing days of the campaign, Knight faced a scandal as he aired a campaign ad starring a Hitler-quoting, anti-Muslim racist who advocated for shooting journalists.

Katie Hill is the Democrat running against Knight. Hill was executive director of People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), a non-profit focused on helping the homeless population. Her campaign regularly outraised Knight, an inexact measure used by election experts to gauge enthusiasm for candidates.

Election experts are split in their predictions on this race, with some saying it is a toss-up, and some giving the edge to either Knight or Hill.

45th Congressional District

This Orange County district pits two-term Republican Trump loyalist Rep. Mimi Walters against UC-Irvine law professor Katie Porter. While the district backed Hillary Clinton in 2016, Walters emerged as one of Trump's most fervent supporters, voting to advance the Trump agenda 99 percent of the time. No matter what Trump does, it seems Walters will defend him.

Like Knight, Walters voted to take away health care for individuals with pre-existing conditions and voted to raise taxes on some of her own constituents. The tax bill is so skewed toward the wealthy that a group of nuns protested outside of Walters' office.

In the final stretch of the campaign, Porter outraised Walters. A string of nonpartisan polls shows Porter with a slight lead, and most election experts say the race is either a toss-up or that Porter has a slight edge.

Polls are open in California on Election Day (Tuesday, Nov. 6) from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. Anyone in line by 8:00 p.m. is allowed to cast a ballot.

Californians can also mail their ballots. According to the California Secretary of State office, "Vote-by-mail ballots that are mailed must be postmarked on or before Election Day and received by your county elections office no later than 3 days after Election Day. If you are not sure your vote-by-mail ballot will arrive in time if mailed, bring it to any polling place in your county between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m. on Election Day."

Because some ballots are mailed on or near Election Day, the results of these races and other California races may not be known until later in the week. The nation's eyes may be glued to California, as control of Congress hangs in the balance.