Fox News declared the Democrats were on their way to retaking the House of Representatives before the polls closed in California. Within the first hour after the polls closed, it had become official.
Several hundred people gathered at the Canyon Santa Clarita on Tuesday night to see if Katie Hill would join the numerous Democrats (many of whom were first-time candidates and women) in turning at least the lower chamber blue.
Although the totals aren’t official until the Secretary of State certifies the election next month, Hill led Rep. Steve Knight by 4,117 votes (51.3 percent to 48.7 percent), and Knight conceded via voicemail around 10:30 a.m., a press release from Hill’s people said.
Santa Clarita has voted Republican since it first could cast votes. That changed.
“We’re at a moment of history,” Hill told her hundreds of supporters Tuesday night when the race was still too close to call. “We really, truly are at a moment where … Americans are standing up, where young people are standing up, where women are standing up. And where regular people who say it is not OK for us to have a political system that only represents the wealthiest people in our country and big corporations and special interests and partisan politics, and it leaves the rest of us behind.”
The next day, it still felt surreal to her.
“I still feel like a regular person,” she said. “It’s just bizarre, but I guess that’s what it’s supposed to be, right? You want to have people there (in Washington) who aren’t politicians but are there to represent the people, and I know I can do that.”
What mattered to those assembled was that they finally have a representative that city council candidate and county Democratic Party delegate Logan Smith said “will represent the best interests of the district.”
“We want representation of our values,” said Stacy Fortner, member of the Democratic Part of the San Fernando Valley. “We don’t want Trump’s agenda shoved down our throats.”
That means get ready for investigations into various Trump-related activities and issues, from collusion with Russia and protecting the Robert Mueller investigation to subpoenaing his income tax forms. But since the Republicans kept their Senate majority, a split Congress means more gridlock.
That didn’t matter to Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), who made an appearance at the Hill party.
“It doesn’t matter if we have an 11-seat majority, a 16-seat majority or a 20-seat majority,” Sherman said. “I need an ally to work with on local issues. We have got to compel the federal government to issue natural gas storage regulations.”
But on Tuesday, everything seemed secondary to Hill. She told the crowd that this campaign let people who didn’t feel like they had a voice be heard.
“We’ve let people know that their vote matters, and that we’re counting on them, and the only way we can make change happen is if we are the change,” she said to wild applause. “What we do know is no matter what the outcome is, this is only the beginning of the fight. We have to continue this. This is a moment where we have to win for the people, people that have been sitting silent on the sidelines because they don’t think their voice is going to be heard no matter what.”
For many of those people, it felt good to be rid of Knight, who they felt didn’t represent them.
“I don’t think he has a sense of direction,” city council candidate Diane Trautman said. “I think he just follows. I think Katie will stand up for things. Steve Knight is a go-along-to-get-along kind of guy.”
Volunteer Elise Levine, who doesn’t live in the district (she splits time between Brentwood and Chatsworth), said Knight is “unavailable to his constituents, playing hide and seek like other Republicans, and this district doesn’t deserve another term of that.”
On Tuesday, before it was official, Hill made it clear that she wanted to win as part of a big national Democratic Party victory.
“The biggest thing is that if we go in with a mandate, if we go in with a big victory, it shows that the United States people are ready for a serious change, and that change is the way we’re able to approach things, so I really hope to go in with a strong victory … and that means we’ll be able to get to work,” she said.
On Wednesday, she sounded very similar.
“What this is all showing is it is a changing of the dynamics and the makeup of Congress, and that’s what’s going to allow us to start making changes,” she said. “I’m proud to be part of the first wave of something that is truly making a major shift that is going to last for generations.”