Republican Kevin Kiley, a state legislator who became a conservative favorite for his pointed and relentless criticism of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, captured a U.S. House seat Tuesday in northeastern California.
With 83% of ballots counted, Kiley received nearly 53% of the votes to defeat Democrat Kermit Jones, a doctor and Navy veteran.
The win will pad the margin of Republican control in the House. The GOP seized the majority from Democrats last week when California Rep. Mike Garcia was re-elected and gave the party its 218th seat. With Kiley’s victory, the tally stands at 220 Republicans and 212 Democrats.
“Voters want a new direction,” Kiley said in a post-election interview last week as he awaited results in the 3rd Congressional District that runs from the Sacramento suburbs down the interior spine of the state. “The House is going to be the vehicle for effectuating the change voters are looking for.”
Even with the win, Republicans will remain a small minority within the state’s congressional delegation. Of the 52 seats — the largest delegation in Congress — GOP candidates had captured just 11 districts with one race still too early to call.
The leading issues in Kiley’s race mirrored House and Senate campaigns around the country.
Kiley, a state Assembly member, argued that California was in turmoil under Democratic rule in Washington and Sacramento, with residents gouged by inflation and made anxious by rising crime. He sought to depict Jones as an eager foot soldier-in-waiting if Democrats kept their majority and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stayed in the job.
Kiley emerged as a conservative champion for his steady criticism of Newsom, particularly during the 2021 recall election that the governor easily survived. Kiley finished sixth in the field of candidates on the ballot to replace Newsom had voters wanted him removed.
Jones promised to protect access to reproductive health care, bring education costs under control and take on the homeless crisis.