(CN) – Hopes of laying a foundation for strong Democratic opposition to President Trump stumbled in California on Tuesday, as several key races eyed for quelling the Republican stranglehold on Congress ended up remaining red.
In San Diego’s District 49, the “blue wave” pundits expected got off to a slow start as the first poll results trickled in the Republican stronghold which blankets the suburbs of north San Diego and south Orange Counties.
The race between Democratic environmental attorney Mike Levin and State Board of Equalization member Diane Harkey ended in a flipped district, with Levin claiming more than 12,000 more votes.
At his Election Night party, Levin called out the San Diego Registrar of Voters for not updating its figures in time to call the race, but said retiring Rep. Darrell Issa called him earlier in the evening to congratulate him.
“I am confident when all the votes are counted, we will have finally flipped the 49th District. Tonight, our country has rediscovered the Democratic Party and the Democratic Party has rediscovered our voice,” Levin said.
District 49 was predicted early on to lead the “blue wave” of California congressional districts flipping from red to blue after being carried by Hillary Clinton in 2016 despite being represented Republicans.
Issa announced his retirement this past spring after he won re-election in 2016 by the narrowest margin in the nation. He faced weekly “Resist Trump Tuesday” protests organized by District 49 constituents at his district office in the San Diego city of Vista.
Issa went on Fox News Tuesday and predicted Levin would win his seat, saying “California is leaning very hard to the left.”
Over 100 people gathered Tuesday morning to hold their 69th protest outside Issa’s office where, after two years of protesting their congressman’s support of President Donald Trump, organizers were joined by actress and activist Alyssa Milano in supporting Levin’s bid for Congress.
Barbara Amador, one of the organizers of the weekly protest dubbed a “Resista,” told Courthouse News Election Day “feels surreal” after working since December 2016 to replace Issa.
Nancy Wilson of Vista said she started a solo protest at Issa’s office five years ago after she tried to meet with the congressman to get help for her service member son, but Issa declined to help because Wilson is a Democrat.
“When he refused to stand up against Trump he became another representative of Trump,” Wilson said.
“Many people here may have supported him if he had changed his stance, but it became clear he was not interested in representing the people in his district. He’s a ‘Trumpster,’” she added.
Up Interstate 5 in downtown Modesto, hundreds of Josh Harder supporters gathered at Greens on 10th Street for an event celebrating his run for Republican incumbent Jeff Denham’s 10th Congressional District seat.
As the 8:15 p.m. start time drew near, a representative for the campaign came out and told the crowd many polling places had ran out of ballots and Harder staffers were trying to convince those undersupplied spots to remain open.