Assemblyman Kevin Kiley (R-Rocklin) approached a near insurmountable lead in the 3rd District House race on Friday, growing his lead over Dr. Kermit Jones in one of the last House races in the U.S. to be called.
Following the June primary, Kiley held a large lead over Jones throughout the summer, holding around 55% of the vote, with Jones only at 45%. Jones managed to close that gap up during the late summer in part due to Kiley being tied up in the Assembly, slowly closing the gap to 53.5% to 46.5% in early October, with some race trackers shifting from “Solid Republican” to “Likely Republican” as a result. However, this momentum was ground to a halt in late October due to a Republican candidate bump across the country caused by inflation and economic issues, nationwide polls showing a greater likelihood of a GOP Congressional takeover, and Republican strategies of reaching out more to minority communities and Spanish speaking populations proving to be effective.
Like many elections on election night, the 3rd District vote counting was slow, with Kiley in the lead the following day, but with only a fraction of votes counted. The large 3rd district, which stretches from Lake Tahoe to Death Valley, has been particularly slow due to mail-in ballots taking a while to come in due to the District’s size, as well as the coordination and counting logistics of tabulating votes across several counties.
As of Friday, only 72% of ballots have been counted, with Kiley leading 123,561, or 52.1%, to Jones’ 113,491 votes, or 47.9%. The large lead spurred some outlets, as well as Kiley himself, to declare him the victor of the race.
“The race has just been called in our favor,” tweeted Kiley earlier this week. “This secures a Republican Majority in the House of Representatives.”
The race has just been called in our favor. This secures a Republican Majority in the House of Representatives.
— Kevin Kiley (@KevinKileyCA) November 15, 2022
However, despite the large lead, election officials have not yet announced a definite victor, with Jones still having a mathematical chance of winning the district. But, even if Jones does manage to get a lot of votes in the final counted ballots, experts note that it would still be unlikely that Jones could actually win, both due to the polls putting Kiley ahead and his popularity in the area.
“Kiley pretty much has the district at this point,” explained Eastern California pollster Ann White to the Globe on Friday. “It was a little premature to say he won a few days ago, but with that kind of lead and outlook, he can be forgiven for doing so. We’ll have official word in a few days anyway.
“If he does win, which, again, is almost a certainty at this point, he is going to be one of the crucial House votes that put the party just ahead in the majority in the House. He’s been shown to be a reliable Republican in the Assembly, so the GOP will like having him in the House. And, as one of those rare California Republicans he may hold some significant sway, especially with McCarthy likely to be the next Speaker It really is only a matter of time.”
Final votes are expected to come in the next several days.