Kevin Kiley, Republican, takes the seat in the U.S. House from California

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Republican Kevin Kiley, a state legislator who became a conservative favorite for his sharp and relentless criticism of Democratic Gov. Gavin Newsom, captured a seat in the U.S. House in northeastern California on Tuesday.

With 83% of the vote counted, Kiley received nearly 53% of the vote to defeat Democrat Kermit Jones, a physician and Navy veteran.

The victory will fill the margin of Republican control in the House. The GOP seized the Democratic majority last week when California Representative Mike Garcia was re-elected, giving the party its 218th seat. With Kiley’s victory, the count stands at 220 Republicans and 212 Democrats.

“Voters want a new direction,” Kiley said in a post-election interview last week, as he awaited results in the 3rd Congressional District that runs from Sacramento’s suburbs along the inner ridge of the state. “The House is becoming the vehicle for bringing about the change voters are seeking.”

Even with the win, Republicans will remain a small minority within the state’s congressional delegation. Of the 52 seats — the largest delegation in Congress — the GOP candidates had captured only 11 districts, and one race was still too early to call.

Key issues in Kiley’s race mirrored House and Senate campaigns across the country.

Kiley, a member of the state assembly, argued that California was in turmoil under Democratic rule in Washington and Sacramento, with residents wracked by inflation and fearful by rising crime. He tried to paint Jones as an eager foot soldier if the Democrats kept their majority and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi stayed in the job.

Kiley emerged as a conservative champion for his steady criticism of Newsom, especially during the 2021 recall election that the governor easily survived. Kiley finished sixth in the field of candidates on the ballot to replace Newsom if voters wanted him removed.

Jones pledged to protect access to reproductive health care, control education costs and tackle the homeless crisis.

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