For Democrats hoping to turn President Donald Trump’s unpopularity into an opportunity to take control of the House next year, this Orange County community is ground zero.
Their target here — Rep. Ed Royce — is like several other established Republican incumbents in California who progressives hope can be toppled in a wave of anti-Trump backlash. In their bid to win the 24 seats necessary to take control of the House, Democrats are focusing on California — and particularly a swath of seven Republican-held seats clustered in or near Orange County.
The reason those seats are being targeted: 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton bested Trump in all seven districts in the 2016 election. Clinton was the first Democrat since Franklin D. Roosevelt to carry Orange County, and her victory there reflected the rapid demographic changes in the increasingly young, diverse and educated region.
Royce hadn’t planned a town hall meeting during the August recess — so Indivisible, Planned Parenthood and other groups scheduled one without him. Democratic Rep. Linda Sanchez, who represents a nearby Southern California district, attended and fielded questions for hours instead.
Meanwhile, five Democrats who are running against Royce mingled with the crowd of hundreds.
“There’s just a lot of built-up anger,” said Gil Cisneros, who won a $266 million lottery prize in 2010 and is now challenging Royce. “We have to find a way to keep that going.”
“In some ways, this is an opportunity to really bring new people into the fold,” said Sam Jammal, a former…
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