NORCO, Calif. — The race for the 41st Congressional District is expected to be one of the most competitive in California after redistricting shifted the previously Republican leaning Riverside County map to one with an even share of Democratic voters.
What You Need To Know
- The new district includes one of the largest pools of LGBTQIA+ voters in the country
- Registered Republicans in this district make up about 36.3% of voters, while the registered Democrats make up about 36.7%
- Residents in the Corona neighborhood Will Rollins visited told him they’ve never been visited by a candidate and brought up their own concerns of high inflation and immigration
- Both Rollins and Calvert said immigration reform is needed, though they agree with their respective parties on how to achieve it
The longest serving Republican congressional representative represents the area in the Inland Empire, but after redistricting, there’s a new chunk of voters in places like Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage and La Quinta to campaign to.
At this point, Rep. Ken Calvert has grown accustomed to the cameras. He’s been representing parts of the Inland Empire for three decades.
“I know the area very well. I know the county very well. I’ve been here all of my life,” Calvert explained.
He said his pride comes not from the years in Congress, but from what he’s been able to accomplish in the House. Things like alleviating traffic on the 91 Freeway and I-15 corridor, he said, improving air quality, securing more water for California and building close relationships with the military bases in his region.
But with the new map comes new priorities.
“Even though the Salton Sea is not part of the district, it affects this district because as the Salton Sea recedes, you have issues that are gonna come up with air quality,” he explained, looking at the newly redrawn district lines.
To address that, Calvert’s opponent, Will Rollins, said he plans to address a missed opportunity to bring clean tech business to the area.
“Because we know one of the largest lithium ion deposits on earth is in the Salton Sea,” Rollins explained. “It has the ability to both fuel a clean tech energy jobs revolution in that part of California-41 and also help protect our planet.”
After prosecuting the local insurrectionists who attacked the Capitol, Rollins said he felt called to take a more formal stand for democracy, trading in his badge to hit the campaign trail, introducing himself to voters. It’s a tall order when up against name recognition like Calvert’s, but Rollins is confident he can flip the district.
“I come from a family of Republicans and Democrats alike, and I will tell you that the thing that cuts across party lines is a desire to fight against corruption and people who use our tax dollars to line their own pocket and standing up for the rule of law in our constitution,” Rollins explained.
He also stands for reproductive freedom, LGBTQIA+ rights — as a gay man himself — and lower taxes for the working families he’s going door-to-door to campaign to.
Residents in the Corona neighborhood Rollins visited told him they’ve never been visited by a candidate and brought up their own concerns of high inflation and immigration.
Both Rollins and Calvert said immigration reform is needed, though they agree with their respective parties on how to achieve it.
There’s a near even split of registered Democrats and Republicans in this area after redistricting, which is the goal of the redistricting commission, said Matt Lesenyie, professor of Political Science at Long Beach State University.
Though it rarely happens, he said this race will come down to the undecided voters.
“If you just start at the context that registrations are nearly tied, that suggests that both candidates need to pick issues that work with the decline to state group,” Lesenyie said.
This is the first cycle that will use the new maps, though the incumbent said it’s not the first time he’s running in an evenly split district.
“So where this election is going to be determined is by the independent voter,” Calvert finished.
Only time will tell who they will choose.
The new district includes one of the largest pools of LGBTQIA+ voters in the country. Registered Republicans in this district make up about 36.3% of voters, while the registered Democrats make up about 36.7%.