Major fundraising committees on both sides of the aisle are already throwing big money into the primary race for the new 47th congressional district seat in coastal Orange County.
It is widely seen as a contest between two lawyers: high-profile Democratic incumbent Katie Porter and former GOP Assembly Leader Scott Baugh.
But three Republican challengers also hope to be one of the top two candidates advancing from the June 7 primary to the November general election, which will determine who will represent CA-47’s more than 760,000 residents. These challengers — business owners and former congressional candidates Brian Burley and Amy Phan West, as well as documentary film producer Errol Webber — all argue it’s time for a new face on the right.
Porter, 48, is seen as a formidable enemy in her quest for a third term. She has one of the largest campaign war chests in the House and a national profile thanks in large part to viral videos showing her interviewing business leaders and others at House committee hearings.
The former UC Irvine law professor ransacked her current district in 2018 and won re-election in 2020, when voter registration in the district was still narrowly red. And while some lawmakers campaigning in purple districts, like the newly drawn CA-47 — which leans blue by just 1.3 percentage points — might aim to portray themselves as more moderate, Porter has worn the progressive label as a badge of honor. She did so even as she broke with Democratic leadership on some issues, including her support for a ban on lawmakers trading stocks, which she identified as her proudest moment for more than a decade. three years in Congress.
“I stand for transparency and accountability to earn the trust of Orange County families,” Porter said, adding that she measures her success by “hearing from families that they feel I represent them effectively.”
In terms of ranking his political ideology, Porter gave himself a three on a scale of 1 to 10, with one being far left.
West gave himself an eight on that same scale. Burley, Webber and Baugh all declined to give each other scores.
While Porter may have to show up for much of CA-47, since only about a third of the new district overlaps with his current district, Baugh has a long history in the coastal zone.
Baugh, 59, owns a law firm in Newport Beach and touts his work with local nonprofits that support children and veterans. He campaigns on a platform of limited government with “lower taxes, more freedom and strong borders”. And he said he would judge his success on how well he fulfilled what he identified as two key duties of lawmakers.
“First, listen to people and help them deal with the complexity of often unresponsive government agencies. Second, stick to your campaign principles and form coalitions to solve the problems facing the country.
Baugh served as the local representative in the state assembly from 1995 to 2000 and served as Orange County GOP chairman from 2004 to 2011. During a 2018 congressional bid — when Baugh challenged his former mentor , 30-year-old GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher-Baugh finished fourth in the primary. He chose not to run in 2020.
Burley ran for the Coastal District in the 2020 primary, finishing a distant third. His platform focuses on tax relief, illegal immigration, and support for law enforcement and the military. And he said he would measure his success as a public servant on the implementation of those policy plans.
“Too many of our elected officials aren’t working on anything and delivering nothing,” Burley said.
At 29, the Huntington Beach resident is the youngest candidate in the race. He owns an information technology consulting firm and is an elected member of the CO Central Committee.
West, 41, also owns a business, running a rental car business with her husband. She came to the United States as a refugee from Vietnam as a child and now has three children.
West also ran for Congress in 2020, in a northern district, finishing third in the primary. In this race for CA-47, she is running on promises to protect the rights of gun owners, fight abortion rights, secure the border, and cut government.
West, who is in the process of moving from Westminster to Huntington Beach, said she would judge her success in office by the answer to this question: “Have I prioritized Americans in my voting and political decisions? “
Webber, 35, is also an immigrant, having come to the United States from Jamaica with his family when he was 15. He is now a filmmaker living in Costa Mesa who won an Oscar in 2010 for a short documentary about disabled Zimbabwean musicians. These movie references, combined with Webber’s political activism in recent years (he supported Larry Elder’s recent gubernatorial campaign), have earned him a significant following on social media.
Webber did not answer a number of questions about his views on key issues, including how he would judge his success in office. But his campaign platform focuses on issues such as border security, gun rights, voter ID laws and tax cuts.
Webber, Burley and Baugh all declined to answer a yes/no question about whether they recognized Joe Biden as the winner of the 2020 election; West and Porter said yes.
Webber, Burley and Baugh also all declined to say how they would vote if the issue of the legality of same-sex marriage ever came before Congress. West and Porter said they would support him.
However, there’s not much else that West and Porter agree on. West wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, while Porter wants to expand it. West wants less aggressive government policies to fight climate change; Porter wants much more aggressive policies.
Webber is touting the endorsement of General Michael Flynn, President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, whose role in trying to prevent certification of the January 6, 2021 election is currently under investigation. Baugh is endorsed by the national GOP.
Veteran political consultant Adam Probolsky of Newport Beach – who counts Baugh as a mentor – said money will be key in the primary phase of the election. The battle for CA-47 is expected to be one of the most expensive House races in the state, if not the country, and Baugh and Porter have huge financial advantages over the other three contenders.
Regarding the contest between Porter and Baugh, Probolsky said conditions like Biden’s low approval ratings and a pattern of mid-term minority party performance all favor Republicans this year.
“If there was ever a time to eliminate a Democratic incumbent, it’s this election,” he said.
Election officials will begin mailing ballots to all registered voters on May 9. The centers will open for in-person voting from May 28. Visit OCVote.gov to learn more.