That Steve Knight is vulnerable to defeat in his re-election campaign is widely known. Now, an independent, online newsletter has detailed just how vulnerable he is.
According to the nonpartisan The Cook Political Report, Knight (R-Palmdale) is the only Republican congressman in the country to face the maximum seven “risk factors” to gauge political health.
The first six factors are pretty straightforward: Knight took less than 55 percent of the vote in 2016, he represents a district that Hillary Clinton won, he voted for the Republican health-care act, he voted for the massive tax cut, a Democratic challenger (Katie Hill) raised more money than he did in the first quarter of 2018, and a Democratic challenger (Hill and Bryan Caforio) has more than $200,000 cash on hand.
The additional factor is more vague. Knight represents a district that holds a Cook Partisan Voter Index of less than R+5, meaning the 25th congressional district performed less than five points more Republican than the national average. The report currently lists the district as “even,” meaning the district performed within half a point of the national average in either direction.
Attempts to reach Knight were unsuccessful because his cell phone isn’t equipped to accept voicemails. His political consultant, Matt Rexroad, was unconcerned about the Cook findings. Two years ago, he said, The Cook Report had Knight defeated after the primary; Knight beat Caforio by 53 to 47 percent.
“I am not willing to concede anything to The Cook Report based on how they judge the district,” Rexroad said.
Knight might have been outraised in the first quarter, but he still has more cash on hand than any challenger, more than $1 million according to the Center for Responsive Politics. He has accepted money from a wide variety of individuals and political action committees, including $1,000 from Put Vets First!
However, the Center for Public Integrity reported last week that the New York attorney general is investigating the PAC over allegations it spends its money on telemarketing consultants and its leader’s salary.
The $1,000 is about 0.001 percent of Knight’s cash on hand. Still, Caforio took him to task for accepting the money.
“If Steve Knight genuinely cares about helping veterans, he should immediately return the $1,000 he received from this sham organization and condemn the practice of using veterans’ services for personal profit,” Caforio said in a statement. “Otherwise, we can assume his talk about supporting veterans is yet one more empty campaign promise from our congressman.”
Rexroad said he wasn’t sure if Knight had accepted such money, but even if he had, Knight has dedicated and donated a great deal to veterans, so even if he did, “I’d likely call it a wash.”