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Southern California’s House Republicans face pressure from GOP hard-liners

By in Press Enterprise on October 28, 2017

By Jeff Horseman

Conservative activist Tim Donnelly wants to rid Congress of President Donald Trump’s opponents.

Donnelly’s target, though, isn’t a Democrat. The former Inland assemblyman and GOP candidate for governor recently announced his bid to unseat Rep. Paul Cook, R-Yucca Valley, in California’s 8th Congressional District, which includes part of San Bernardino County.

“I’m running because our district … overwhelmingly supported the president,” Donnelly said in an online video announcing his candidacy. “We sent him to D.C. because he said he would make America great again. And we watched as the Congress – this do-nothing Congress – has stymied him at every turn.”

GOP congressional candidate and former Republican assemblyman Tim Donnelly.

Candidates like Donnelly, or at least the anger motivating them, pose another potential headache for congressional Republicans already targeted by Democrats in the 2018 mid-term elections. Democrats hope Trump’s unpopularity – especially in deep blue California – sinks GOP incumbents a year from now, particularly in four Orange County districts represented by Republicans, districts that Hillary Clinton won in 2016.

At the same time, Trump remains popular among the GOP base. And Steve Bannon, Trump’s former chief White House strategist, is leading a campaign to unseat Senate Republicans seen as obstacles to Trump’s agenda.

“It is more like a tug of war with a few extra ropes tied to them that are pushing them sideways along with back and forth,” said Marcia Godwin, a professor of public administration at the University of La Verne.

Getting Republicans to the polls will be key to the upcoming contests.

With no compelling GOP candidates for U.S. Senate and governor, Republican voter turnout in California could fall off in 2018, said Jack Pitney, a professor of politics at Claremont McKenna College.

“And in low-turnout primaries, highly ideological candidates such as Donnelly can sometimes win upset victories,” Pitney said. “The same […]    

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