Devin Nunes is back on Democrats’ target list for 2020

Democrats are renewing their efforts to eradicate all California Republicans from Congress, targeting two more GOP representatives for 2020.

Last year, when Republicans lost seven California seats and 40 across the nation, “was just the tip of the iceberg for Democrats,” Illinois Rep. Cheri Bustos, chair of the Democratic committee, said in a memo released Monday. “By putting our plans in motion earlier in the cycle than ever before, we are demonstrating to Democrats across the country that the political arm of House Democrats is operating in high gear from the start.”

The committee’s announcement at this point does little more than point out vulnerable Republicans. But as the election gets closer, Democratic challengers in those districts could get money from both the party and independent groups that lean their way.

There are plenty of reasons for California Democrats to feel confident. The 65 percent turnout in November was the highest for a midterm since 1982, and that number is likely to grow significantly for the 2020 presidential election.

In deep-blue California, more voters means more Democrats, said Paul Mitchell, vice president of the nonpartisan Political Data Inc., which collects information on voting behavior for political groups across the state.

The 2018 midterm “was obviously a wave (for Democrats), but it might have been a precursor of a bigger 2020 wave and not an aberration,” Mitchell said. “They still have room to grow.”

US President Donald Trump (C) shakes hands with US Representative Devin Nunes (R-CA) as House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) (L) looks on after signing a presidential memorandum focused on sending more water to farmers in California’s Central Valley, during a meeting in Scottsdale, Arizona, on October 19, 2018. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty ImagesNicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

Then there’s the Trump factor. Presidential elections typically bring out more voters than midterm contests, and with President Trump on the top of the ballot, that’s not likely to be good news for the GOP in California.

A December poll by the Public Policy Institute of California found that 61 percent of likely voters, including 83 percent of Democrats and 67 percent of independent voters, disapproved of the job Trump was doing as president.

“Polling during the last election cycle showed a big reason for the high turnout was Trump,” Mitchell said. And even without Trump’s name on the ticket, unhappiness with the president was a major factor in GOP losses throughout the state.

With Trump in full cry on the campaign trail, Republican candidates in California will find themselves hard-pressed to ignore the president and his policies, even if they are unpopular in the state.

And for candidates like Nunes, who has tied himself tightly to the president, their fate could depend on Trump.

But in California, Democrats could be a victim of their own success. With an overwhelming 46-7 margin in the state’s congressional delegation, Democrats have grabbed not only the low-hanging fruit, but also everything but that at the tip-top of the political tree.

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