Democratic efforts to retake the House of Representatives in November avoided a potential pitfall on Tuesday.
Democratic candidates in the 39th, 48th and 49th Districts, all representing parts of Orange County, appear poised to advance to November's general election, avoiding a nightmare scenario under California's top-two primary system, in which two Republicans would lead the primary and advance, leaving Democrats shut out of the general election.
"These districts are all critical to Democrats taking back the House nationwide in November," said Katie Merrill, with Fight Back California, a political action committee aimed at flipping Republican congressional seats in the state. "The potential of possibly being shut out of three or four of them would have really dimmed our chances for taking back the House."
California Democrats saw these Orange County districts, a long-time Republican stronghold that went for Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in 2016, as some of their best chances to flip Republican-held seats this November.
In January, Rep. Ed Royce announced that he would be retiring at the end of the year. Days later, Congressman Darrell Issa followed suit, leaving open two vulnerable seats. A third congressman representing Orange County, Dana Rohrabacher, has been targeted by Democrats over his pro-Russian views.