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National Democrats name California GOP Reps. Devin Nunes and Duncan Hunter new targets in 2018 election

Rep. Duncan Hunter (Carolyn Kaster / Associated Press)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added congressional districts held by Reps. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) to their list of 2018 targets on Monday.

Both represent traditionally strong Republican districts, and have consistently won reelection by large margins, but both Hunter and Nunes are currently facing ethics questions.

Five Democrats have announced challenges to Hunter: Pierre Beauregard, Josh Butner, Ammar Campa-Najjar, Gloria Chadwick and Patrick Malloy. Hunter was elected in 2008 to replace his father in the San Diego-area district and has won reelection with at least 60% of the vote each election since. He beat Malloy in 2016 with 63.5% of the vote.

Hunter has reimbursed more than $60,000 in mistaken, personal or undocumented expenditures to his campaign since the Federal Election Commission and the San Diego Union-Tribune began questioning his expenses a year ago.

Recently the House Ethics Committee announced it would halt an inquiry into Hunter’s spending in deference to a federal criminal investigation.

On Friday, the non-partisan analytics website Inside Elections changed the ranking of Hunter’s district, noting it would likely stay in Republican hands. Nunes’ district remains rated "solid Republican."

Just one Democrat has announced a bid against Nunes, Democratic Fresno County Deputy Dist. Atty. Andrew Janz. Nunes has gotten more than two-thirds of the vote in all but one of his eight congressional elections in the Central Valley district. In 2016, he beat Democrat Louie Campos with 68.2% of the vote.

Nunes is chairman of the House Select Intelligence Committee, but stepped aside from leading the House investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election over questions about whether he mishandled classified information.

With the added districts, the party plans to focus time and money on nine of 14, or nearly two-thirds of seats Republicans hold in the California delegation. Nationally, Democrats are targeting 79 Republican-held districts. They need to win 24 seats to regain control of the House.

The seven other Republican-held districts Democrats have focused on all backed Hillary Clinton for president in 2016. They are:

  • CA-10: Jeff Denham (R-Turlock)
  • CA-39: Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)
  • CA-49: Darrell Issa (R-Vista)

Supporters of single-payer healthcare march to the Capitol in Sacramento on April 26. U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) (Paul Sancya / Associated Press) Kimberly Ellis, who lost a bid to be leader of the California Democratic Party chairperson, calls for an audit of the election. Kimberly Ellis, center, narrowly lost her bid for California Democratic Party chairperson. As of Sunday morning, she has refused to concede. Supporters of Kimberly Ellis, who lost the California Democratic Party’s race for chairperson, gather outside the Sacramento Convention Center on Sunday morning. Eric Bauman (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times) California Democratic Party delegate Nicole Lutkemuller of Tahoe City leads a march urging Democratic officials and candidates to stop taking money from oil companies. (Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times) (Jay L. Clendenin / Los Angeles Times)