2017-05-19 / Editorials

Local congressional race already heating up

EDITORIAL

If you’ve been following national politics lately, chances are you’re feeling a little bit of whiplash or, at the very least, experiencing some minor dizziness.

Regardless of whether you’re a Republican or a Democrat, there’s no denying it’s difficult to try to keep up with the sheer volume of political news coming out of Washington, D.C., these days.

Given that the Simi Valley Acorn is a community newspaper, we generally don’t report on broad national matters, so we won’t get into the details now about what’s going on in our nation’s capital. But here in the 25th Congressional District, where a race is already heating up roughly a year and a half before the U.S. midterm elections, local political news is only beginning.

This week, consumer rights attorney Bryan Caforio became the third Democrat to announce he will challenge Rep. Steve Knight (R-Simi Valley) for his U.S. House of Representatives seat in 2018. The other two Democrats running in the 25th District— which encompasses Simi Valley, Santa Clarita, the Antelope Valley and parts of the San Fernando Valley—are nonprofit executive director Katie Hill and geologist Jess Phoenix. No others have thrown their hats into the ring so far.

This race will mark Caforio’s second bid for the seat. The Santa Clarita resident, who moved to the district in 2015, came in second in last year’s primary and lost to Knight by six percentage points in the general election.

Hill, who heads the nonprofit People Assisting the Homeless (PATH), is a Santa Clarita native who now lives on a farm in Agua Dulce. Although she has never run for office, she was first to declare her candidacy for the race and is already gaining serious interest from local Democrats.

Phoenix, a volcano scientist who is also from the Santa Clarita area, is the co-founder of educational nonprofit Blueprint Earth, which helps teach Earth sciences to young people. Like Hill, Phoenix is a political newcomer, but she has the backing of nonprofit 314 Action, which help candidates with scientific backgrounds run for office.

Although the 25th District has been held by a Republican for more than two decades— Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon held the seat for 22 years before retiring in 2014, after which Knight won the position—Democrats have a slight advantage in terms of registered voters. About 38 percent of district voters are Democrats, while 36 percent are Republicans.

The 25th District went to Hillary Clinton by more than six percentage points in November. And last week, Sabato’s Crystal Ball at the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics, which analyzes congressional races, changed the district’s rating from “leans Republican” to “toss-up,” making Knight one of the more vulnerable incumbents in the state.

Local voters will surely have a lot of political news to follow in the near future. Only 18 more months until Election Day.

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