Democratic Rep. Katie Porter and former GOP Assembly leader Scott Baugh are considered top contenders as final votes are cast today in the primary race for Orange County’s coastal 47th House District.
Three other Republican challengers are also in the contest: business owners and former congressional candidates Brian Burley and Amy Phan West along with documentary film producer Errol Webber.
We’ll offer live updates here for this race as votes are counted, starting shortly after 8 p.m. tonight and potentially continuing over the next few days.
The two candidates who get the most votes after all primary ballots are tallied will advance to the decisive November election. That vote will determine who will represent a politically mixed district that goes from Seal Beach south to Laguna Beach, picking up Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa and Irvine along the way.
Though voter registration in CA-47 only favors Democrats by 1.4 points, forecasters initially rated the seat as “likely Democratic,” figuring Porter’s national profile and resources as one of the most prodigious fundraisers in the House — with more than $15.2 million in donations this cycle alone — would help her keep the seat. But some experts recently shifted their rating to “lean Democratic” as issues such as high gas prices and inflation have put Democrats nationwide in a less favorable position.
Either way, primary results still are expected to favor Porter, since she’s the only Democrat in the race while the four challengers must divvy up the GOP vote.
Porter, a former UC Irvine law professor who lives in Irvine, has focused her campaign in recent weeks on issues such as reproductive and LGBTQ rights, corporate accountability, gun control and environmental protections. Her pinned campaign tweet is about refusing to accept donations from corporate PACs, saying lobbyists “better bring ideas — not their checkbooks.”
About the 47th District
Voter registration: 35.5% Democrat, 34.1% Republican, 24.7% no party preference
Voter demographics: Older and less diverse than neighboring areas at 72.9% White, 15.5% Asian American, 10.7% Latino, 0.9% Black
2020 pick for president: Joe Biden by 11 points
Baugh, an attorney who lives in Huntington Beach, has raised $1.5 million this cycle. His campaign has focused on border security, reining in government spending, school choice and slamming Porter. His pinned campaign tweet is a video that appears to show undocumented immigrants arriving on an Orange County beach by boat, with Baugh speculating that they “could be terrorists or human traffickers.”
Burley posted the next-highest fundraising total, with $369,093 in donations. The Huntington Beach resident owns his own information technology business and has a platform focused on lower taxes, illegal immigration and support for law enforcement and the military. He hasn’t tweeted in months, but a mass text from his campaign focused on attacking Baugh over past controversies.
Next up was West, also of Huntington Beach, who raised $172,544 this cycle. She’s a refugee from Vietnam and runs a car rental operation with her husband. Her campaign has centered on support for gun rights, fighting abortion rights, securing the border and shrinking government. Her pinned tweet is a campaign ad that discusses fleeing Vietnam and claiming Democrats are trying to bring Communism to America.
Webber reported $26,636 in contributions. The Costa Mesa resident’s campaign platform targets border security, gun rights, voter ID laws and reducing taxes. His pinned tweet touts an endorsement from General Michael Flynn, former national security adviser to President Donald Trump. He also recently tweeted, then deleted, speculation that Democrats might have orchestrated the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas to advance “their agenda.”
The first round of results tonight will come from ballots that were mailed before Election Day. Those returns are expected to skew in favor of Democrats, since Trump and other GOP leaders sewed distrust of mail-in ballots in recent elections. As in-person votes from today are added to the mix, vote counts may shift a bit more to the right.
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Elections officials will continue counting mail-in ballots that were postmarked by today into next week. So if results are close, it might be several days before it’s clear who made it out of the primary.
Check here for updates as new vote counts come in.