A victor in the close 47th Assembly District race was announced early on Monday, with Democrat Christy Holstege conceding to Republican Greg Wallis shortly before his swearing-in ceremony.
Throughout the summer and fall, the race in the 47th District, which stretches across the Coachella Valley in Riverside County and San Bernardino County, had been close. The area had formerly been served by GOP Assemblyman Chad Mayes, but, following him not running in 2022 and redistricting, the seat was open in a slightly different playing field. Holstege, a Palm Springs City Councilwoman Democrat, won the primary, with Mayes’ District Director, Wallis, coming in second ahead of fellow Republican Gary Michaels.
Both parties spent around $1 million on the race, with Democrats hoping to flip the district due to a large surge of Los Angeles residents moving eastward, while Republicans aimed to keep the district by appealing to a broader base and focusing on the issues in both counties. As election day grew nearer, both candidates managed to rise and fall in a neck to neck race.
On election day, no candidate was declared a winner, and the totals remained close to the end. Finally, totals were released last week, with the final tally coming at Wallis with 84,752 and Holstege with 84,667. While Holstege won 54% of Riverside County, where most of the district falls, Wallis’ strategy paid off with San Bernardino County coming in with a whopping 64% in favor of him.
The 85 vote difference was not enough for Holstege to concede last week. However, when it became clear that the tally wasn’t moving anymore, Holstege finally conceded the race early on Monday, capping off the closest Assembly race in Californian history since 1980.
“The votes have all been counted, and it is clear that by the very thinnest of margins, we have fallen just short of victory,” Holstege said on Monday. “I called Greg Wallis this morning to congratulate him, and expressed to him that I hope we can work together these next two years to deliver measurable results for our communities. If anybody ever tells you their vote doesn’t count, tell them about this Assembly race that was decided by just 85 votes. Our democracy depends on everyone participating and voting like their rights and their futures depend on it. While I am disappointed by the outcome, I am determined to continue serving my community in every way possible.”
A margin of 85 votes
Following the concession, Wallis was sworn in as Assemblyman at the Chase Admin Building at the Living Desert in Palm Desert by Riverside County Sheriff Chad Bianco.
“I am looking forward to representing our region in Sacramento where we will push to improve California for all,” said now Assemblyman Wallis on Monday. “I’m honored that the people have elected me to serve our community. Now, it’s time to get to work to improve affordability, get our education system back on track, and support public safety.”
In a Twitter post made later that day, Wallis added, “It was the honor of my lifetime to be sworn in today as California’s Assemblymember for the 47th District. Thank you to everyone who supported our campaign. As promised, I’ll work to make real changes that make life more affordable, with more opportunity, for everyone.”
It was the honor of my lifetime to be sworn in today as California’s Assemblymember for the 47th District.
— Greg Wallis (@gregrwallis) December 12, 2022
Political experts noted on Tuesday that while Wallis won this year, 2024 and beyond could be a challenge for the Assemblyman.
“You just have too many people from LA moving out there in the search for cheap rent,” Riverside County issue advisor Rico Browne told the Globe on Tuesday. “They have been voting for land protection issues that come up, and have been influencing limiting the number of things being built, which a lot of people wanting to keep the area rural have sided with them. But mostly, they are going to vote for the Democrats here. And this county had been red for decades. Now it’s purple.”
“And the demographics have been changing fast enough that, in a few years, we may see that flip. Many were expecting it this year, but Wallis played it smartly and managed to barely win. In the next few years, he is going to need to put in the work to keep the district Republican. It can be done, especially if California as a whole is starting to shift politically and Wallis does a good job in Sacramento. It is a big unknown right now if population shifts can beat out an incumbent and changing politics. Turnout for the 2024 presidential election could even swing it.”
“But for right now, Wallis should feel good. He’s heading to Sacramento, and he just won a district that Democrats had really wanted.”
Wallis is expected to bring in his first bills once the new session opens up early next year.
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