For the better part of the decade, the San Joaquin Valley has been dubbed California’s new Republican stronghold, but the region has never really supplanted Orange County and the Inland Empire area of Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Maybe that time has finally come.
“The area from Stockton to Bakersfield was the only area where the Republicans did at all well,” said political analyst Tony Quinn, a former GOP legislative aide and co-editor of California Target Book, a nonpartisan analysis of legislative and congressional races. “They got killed everywhere else.”
Votes are still being counted, but right now Republican Mitt Romney leads President Barack Obama in the eight-county San Joaquin Valley, 53% to 47%, and Republican Elizabeth Emken leads incumbent Democrat Dianne Feinstein in the U.S. Senate race by the same six-percentage-point difference.
In addition, Republicans Jeff Denham in the Stanislaus County-based 10th Congressional District and David Valadao in the westside 21st District both won competitive districts and appear to be on their way to Congress.
Orange County gets dinged because Democratic challenger Sharon Quirk-Silva is leading incumbent Republican Chris Norby in the 65th Assembly District.
Obama is also ahead in San Bernardino County, and Feinstein is ahead in both Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Not that everything is great for Valley Republicans.
Democrat Rudy Salas also has a narrow lead over Republican Pedro Rios in the 32nd Assembly District, which includes all of Kings and part of Kern counties.Valadao did hold the seat, and so it would be a pickup for Democrats if Salas holds on. It could also be the seat that allows Democrats to win a two-thirds Assembly supermajority.
In addition, there’s no guarantee that Romney can hold Fresno County.