Democrat Asif Mahmood Focuses on Abortion — But Not Young Kim – Orange County Register

In the first television ad of his campaign to represent the 40th congressional district, Democratic challenger Asif Mahmood focuses on abortion access, making it clear that he believes resisting efforts to overturn Roe v. Wade is a winning question even in a district with more Republican voters. Democrats by more than 5 points.

But instead of focusing on GOP incumbent Young Kim — who opposes abortion rights and who most forecasters believe will narrowly win the race — Mahmood instead targets GOP challenger Greg Raths of Mission. Viejo, calling it “too right wing for Orange County“.

“We expect Raths to progress in June,” Mahmood campaign spokesman Nathan Click said when asked about the pick. “And we’re not waiting until after the primary to show voters what’s at stake.”

Kim’s campaign declined to comment for this story.

But pundits say Raths would surely be Mahmood’s favorite challenger in November, as he lacks the perks that come with being an incumbent and has more openly embraced MAGA-style republicanism in a field that has firmly rejected Trump twice.

“There’s no doubt that (Mahmood) would rather run against Raths than Kim,” said USC politics professor Dan Schnur.

“Mahmood is spending money promoting his favorite opponent to conservative voters. And if that motivates his own base in the process, great.

Call it smart. Call it tricky. But you can’t say it’s unusual, or against all the rules, for candidates on either side of the aisle to spend money to boost a primary competitor they see as the easiest target for november. Campaign finance rules only require the disclosure of funds used to support or oppose a candidate.

One of the most high-profile examples of this cycle occurred in the race for governor of Pennsylvania, where Democrat Josh Shapiro’s campaign paid for ads that showed how Trump-backed candidate Doug Mastriano opposes abortion and supports the big lie of a stolen 2020 election. Mastriano won the GOP nomination this week and will face Shapiro in the general election.

A group supporting California Attorney General Rob Bonta also paid for radio ads promoting far-right GOP challenger Eric Early, saying he was “pro-life, pro-Trump and pro -weapons” before reminding voters to “remember to vote early, before June”. 7 elections.

The tactic can be risky.

“It’s a dangerous game to play,” said Fullerton College politics professor Jodi Balma.

There’s no guarantee that voters won’t elect this outsider candidate in November, she noted, with some voters backing the candidate who has their preferred party tag next to their name. And if that person has opinions that the candidate paying for the ads really thinks they would be harmful to residents, then those ads — and that candidate — would have played a part in helping put that person in power.

In the case of the CA-40 race, Balma said she would be worried if Mahmood’s campaign focused on fringe GOP challenger Nick Taurus, an American nationalist from Laguna Hills who supports punishing women who have abortions. and regularly marries anti-Semites and homophobes. views.

She sees less of a distinction between Kim and Raths, predicting they would vote largely the same on most issues. They gave the same answers to most questions on a Candidate Registry questionnaire on issues such as opposition to abortion rights, offshore drilling and a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants. On an ideological scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being far right, Kim gave herself a seven and Raths gave herself an eight.

But while Kim tried to distance herself from Trump, Raths didn’t. And Mahmood’s campaign is taking the opportunity to target Raths – noting in the ad that Raths was “featured at the Trump Candidates Forum at Mar-A-Lago” – in a district that would have voted for Biden in 2020 by 2 points.

Raths said he attended the February forum at Mar-a-Lago as a paying guest.

“I was not endorsed by our former president,” he said.

Asked about the idea that Mahmood might target him to take out Kim, Raths said, “If that’s his strategy, it works for me. In 2020, I raised over $1.2 million after the primary and I think I can do the same, if not more, if I make the top two on June 7.

As of March 31, which was the end of the last reporting period, Kim had raised $4.8 million this cycle, while Mahmood had raised $1.4 million, Raths had raised $136,110 and Taurus had raised 9 $693.

Mahmood’s campaign says the focus on Raths is a response to an internal poll that indicates Rath is “going up” against Kim. The campaign notes that Raths was the 2020 GOP nominee for a House district that, before boundaries were redrawn last year due to redistricting, comprised more than half of the current 40th district. That year, Raths beat five other GOP challengers to advance with Rep. Katie Porter, D-Irvine, in the November election, where he lost by six points.

“Our polls have consistently shown that Raths is much better known and liked by GOP voters in the district,” Click said.

Balma hasn’t seen such polls, but said she thinks it’s likely Raths has more name recognition within CA-40.

The main way to overcome these name recognition shortcomings is with money, which can pay for TV ads, signs, direct mail, door knockers and everything else to help voters get to know a candidate. And so far, Kim has this victory in the bag.

The next set of campaign finance reports, showing funds raised through Wednesday, May 18, are due May 26.

Ballots for the primary have been mailed to all registered voters in Orange County. They can be returned by mail or placed in an official drop box now, or voters can wait to vote in person at a voting center when they begin to open on May 28.

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