An Additional California Chance to Engineer a “Red”- “Blue” Flip—Democrat Katie Hill v. Trump Lackey Steve Knight June 25, 2018
In the late poet Maya Angelou’s words, “When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.” No one should have been shocked about Donald’s authoritarian bent. We all heard the chilling words he uttered in his 2016 convention acceptance speech, “I alone, can fix it (Litt, “Thanks , Obama”).” Translation: Strongman Trump doesn’t need Congress, the courts, or the American people.
Donald made a major theme of his campaign cracking down on Hispanic illegal and, frankly, legal immigration. He repeatedly called Latinos “murderers, rapists, and gangsters.” “Biblical” law, according to Trump’s henchman Jeff Sessions, requires Americans to support their government’s policy of tearing more than 2,500 young children from their parents. Trump wants the country to forget that putting these youngsters in detention camps and placing them in cages evokes the cruelty and brutality of prior ugly episodes in American and world history. Fortunately, most Americans responded with a”y uu ge” public outcry against Donald’s inhumane actions. On 6/20/2014, Donald signed an executive order ending the separation of children from their parents. Trump wants future illegal immigrant children and their parents to now be jailed together indefinitely, a matter which will rightly be contested in the courts. Additional litigation will be required to release the already separated children and reunite them with their families (See NY Times, Haberman & Shear, 6/20/18).
There is, however, only one effective way to stop all of Trumpism’s extreme actions. NY Times columnists Tom Friedman and Paul Krugman spelled it out, as did ex-GOPer/former McCain advisor Steve Schmidt. They stated that Americans must come out in droves in 11/2018 to put a check on Demagogue Donald’s excesses by voting for any House and Senate candidate with a “D” after his/her name, no matter what their own political affiliations are. As Friedman, Krugman, and Schmidt have noted, the GOP Congress, both in the House and Senate, has refused to stand up to Donald. In order to preserve our democracy, including our political checks and balances, we must have a true opposition willing to take on this dangerous bully. Democrats need to flip 23 GOP seats to take back the House in 11/2018. Twenty-five House seats are currently held by GOPers in districts that Hillary carried in 2016. In one of these, the CA 25th Congressional District, Democrat Katie Hill is challenging GOP Congressman Steve Knight. Let’s view this race.
Second-term GOP Congressman Steve Knight (51) currently represents CA’s 25th Congressional District (CD). The present CA 25th covers part of northern Los Angeles County and part of Ventura County. The 25th CD includes Santa Clarita, Palmdale, part of the city of Lancaster, and most of the Simi Valley. Lockheed Martin, Northup Grumman, and Boeing all have operations in the 25th that support nearby Edwards Air Force Base, located northeast of the 25th. Santa Clarita is home to the Six Flags Magic Mountain Amusement Park. Valencia, also in the 25th , has Disney’s California Institute of the Arts (Barone & CQ 14 Political Almanacs, 115th Congress At Your Fingertips).
In 2016, Palmdale was 59.4% Hispanic (Appleford, International Business Times & capitalandmain.com 5/29/18). The entire 25th CD is 35.3% Hispanic, 8% black, 7.7% Asian, and 45. 8% white (latimes.com/la-redistricting-map). The 4/17/2017 Cook Partisan Voting Index (PVI) gives the 25th an EVEN Republican/Democratic score, a true swing district. In 2016, Hillary won the 25th by a 6.7% margin. In 2012, Romney won here by 1.9% (CQ 14).
Born at Edwards Air Force Base, Knight graduated from Palmdale High School. He served in the U.S. Army on active duty and in the reserves from 1985-1993 (bioguide.congress, ebmpubs.com). In 2006, he received an Associate of Arts Degree from Antelope Valley College. Knight served 18 years with the Los Angeles Police Department, including on the anti-gang CRASH team. He served on the Palmdale City Council (media.cq.com, archive. senate.cagov, LA Times, Panzar, 12/10/15). Knight was elected to the CA State Assembly in 11/2008 and served as Assistant Minority Leader from 2010-2012. In 2012, he won election to the CA State Senate. His late father also served in the State Senate. In 2014, Knight was elected to Congress by a 6-point margin. In 2016, he was re-elected by 6.2% (Panzar, LA Times, U.S. House of Reps. Elections, 2014 & 2016).
In the House, Knight has voted in line with Demagogue Donald nearly 99% of the time (See fivethirtyeight.com, capitalandmain.com, Appleford, 5/29/18). He opposes abortion and stands against same-sex marriage (LA Times, 8/27/14, 9/26/16 & 9/30/16). Cong. Knight stated he was “deeply disturbed” by reports of Trump’s bragging about groping and grabbing women. However, after the election, he said he had voted for Donald (LA Times). Knight has a lifetime ZERO score from the League of Conservation Voters. Knight called Social Security “a bad idea scv.com, 5/05/16).” In 4/2015, Knight voted to impose a one-year delay on Defense Department rules designed to shield military families from abusive terms on payday loans (Huffington Post, 4/30/15). Knight voted to dismantle financial regulations on Wall Street and to delay raising ozone standards. He voted to make concealed carry permits for firearms valid across state lines and to repeal a regulation that made it difficult for people with mental illness to purchase guns (Appleford,capitalandmain.com). He has been a dependable vote to repeal Obamacare and voted for the regressive top 1% tax cut bill. That bill hit CA homeowners hard because it limited deducting property taxes (Appleford). Democrats have accused Knight of not differentiating himself from Trump’s hard-line immigration stance (Bowman, 5/31/18, rollcall.com, abc7, Munoz & Granda).
Many Democrats believe that Katie Hill, Knight’s 11/2018 opponent, is the best candidate for flipping the 25th “Blue.” Hill (30) gained attention with a primary campaign ad that showed her climbing a vertical sandstone rock 100 feet above flat ground (Modesti, dailynews.com, 5/03/18). Hill went on to raise $1.4 million to Dem. Bryan Caforio’s $1.1 million. Caforio was the candidate who Knight defeated in 2016 (See rollcall.com, Bowman). Hill is the executive director of the non-profit organization PATH (People for Assisting the Homeless). She worked to pass ballot initiatives Measure H and Proposition HHH to decrease homelessness in the LA area. Homelessness is a growing problem in the CA 25th CD. Hill received a Bachelor’s and Master’s Degree from Cal State University, Northridge, CSUN (Appleford, Hill website, “About Me”). Hill has deep roots in the 25th. She grew up in Santa Clarita and Antelope Valley She lives on a farm in Agua Dulce with her husband Kenny Heslep and several rescue animals. Her father is a police officer, her mother a nurse. One grandfather went to Yale on an ROTC scholarship, joined the Navy, and became an engineer on the space shuttle. Her other grandfather served in the U.S. Army and used the GI Bill to go to college. He later taught Political Science at UCLA (katiehillforcongress.com, newyorker.com, Goodyear, 6/12/18). Hill, a centrist Democrat, believes that both parties have to get along to get things done in Congress, a common view in the swingy 25th CD (LA Times, 3/08/17, Bowman, rollcall.com). In the 6/05/2018 CA “jungle primary,” Hill upset the four other Democrats to win a spot on the 11/2018 ballot against Knight. Knight, running unopposed as the GOPer, received an anemic 52.82% of the vote, versus all the Democratic candidates 47.18% total (CA SOS, 6/08/18).
Hill is for strengthening Obamacare but wants to eventually have a Medicare for All system. She is pro-choice and supports Planned Parenthood. She will protect Medicare and Social Security. She is a strong environmental protection advocate. A lifelong gun owner, Hill believes that being for the Second Amendment and for gun safety is not exclusive. She supports a federal ban on assault weapons as well as increasing the minimum age to purchase firearms. She is for expanding the current background check system. She wants a clear path to citizenship for immigrants. She wants measures to keep immigrant families together, while reasonably enforcing border security. Hill tweeted her outrage at Donald’s heartless border separation of immigrant children and pushed for people to get involved in opposing Trump (twitter.com/katiehill4ca, katiehillforcongress.com). Although she has a male spouse, Hill has identified herself as bisexual since her adolescence. She is strong on LGBT rights and is endorsed by several LGBT groups. She is for making the wealthy pay their fair share in taxes (katiehillforcongress.com).
The latest Berkeley-IGS poll finds 56% of the 25th CD’s voters currently disinclined to re-elect Knight. Fifty-two percent of likely voters in the 25th do not want to re-elect Knight because of his repeal Obamacare and tax-cut votes. This same percentage believe that GOP control of Congress is “a bad thing (capitalandmain.com, Appleford, 5/29/18).” Analyst Dave Wasserman from the Cook Political Report gave the 25th CD race a “Toss Up” rating, but added that “in this political climate, it should be Hill’s to lose (Wasserman, 6/06/18).”
Again, elections are not won by armchair pundits and 11/2018 is still political lightyears away. GOPers are well aware that in order to keep the House, they must “save” the CA 25th. One year ago, the Congressional Leadership Fund, a super-PAC connected to House GOP leadership, opened a field office in the 25th . It already has fifty interns phoning voters for Knight. The national GOP and allied groups, like Koch Industries, will contribute millions to Knight’s campaign. In 2016, Koch gave Knight at least $5,000 (opensecrets.org, rollcall.com, Bowman). The GOP plans to use the 11/2018 CA ballot initiative to repeal the gas tax to bring out conservative voters here (rollcall.com). Count on a negative campaign against Hill where her sexual identity will be raised. On 11/06/2018, Democrats and moderates in the 25th CD must come out in droves to elect Hill. Throughout our country, we must stop authoritarian/minded Donald by heavily voting for candidates with the “D” after their names. Trumpism must be checked.