Shortly after Nancy Pelosi was sworn in as Speaker of the House earlier today, voters in the 39th Congressional District represented by Gil Cisneros (D-Yorba Linda) and the 45th Congressional District of Katie Porter (D-Irvine) received text messages.
The missives were not kumbuyas associated with the historic Democratic Party takeover of the U.S. House of Representatives’ leadership.
The texts actually came from the National Republican Congressional Committee, which like its Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee counterparts, works to get members of its party elected to Congress.
Here is the text that went to voters in Porter’s district.
The link takes you to the “Retire Pelosi Now!” page on the NRCC website, which warns visitors: “Urgent: Radical Democrats are breaking their promises by voting to make Nancy Pelosi Speaker!”
That’s followed by instructions to, “Take a stand against out-of-touch liberals by supporting President Trump and House Conservatives now,” with boxes to click for donations of $35, $50, $75, $100, $250, $500, $1,000, $5,000 or the grab-baggie $-other. (Be careful, donors: You must un-check a box below those lest you make those monthly contributions.)
In a “Did you get my text?” email to registered Republicans in the 45th district, NRCC Regional Press Secretary Camille Gallo was more specific on targeting Porter.
Hey there –
After Katie Porter spent months on the campaign trail dodging the question about her support of Nancy Pelosi, she promptly bent the knee today by voting YES for Speaker Pelosi.
Since we at the NRCC want Katie’s first-ever vote in Congress to be a memorable one, we’re sending paid text messages to targeted voters across CA-45 to remind them of her vote.
You can see a sample of that text below. Welcome to the big leagues, Katie! 🙂
“I’m going to continue to have conversations,” Porter explained during her first public appearance since barely defeating incumbent Mimi Walters (R-Irvine), “but so far I feel like Leader Pelosi is definitely making the things that were a priority to the families that elected me her priorities, including announcing her support for campaign finance reform and anti-corruption as HR1.”
The UC Irvine law professor, who specializes in consumer protection, continued of Pelosi: “It means a lot to me that she is a Californian. She understands our state. When we talk about environmental protections, this is a person who understands as a Californian how fragile our environment is and what’s at risk in things like drilling off our coasts.”
Porter’s statement came a week after a third Orange County House freshman, Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach), announced that he would support Pelosi for speaker. The NRCC did not send texts to voters in Rouda’s 48th District nor Levin’s 49th, however.
Perhaps Rouda and Levin’s relatively larger margin of victories over their Republican opponents had something to do with escaping the fate of Orange County’s fourth and final House freshman, Cisneros, who barely defeated Republican Young Kim for the 39th seat abandoned by Representative Ed Royce (R-Brea).
Cisneros had opposed Pelosi’s speakership bid while on the campaign trail, as his win was confirmed and well into December.
“The people of the 39th District made it clear … that they want to see real change in Washington, and I intend to follow through on my commitment to support new leadership,” Cisneros said in November. “Our Democratic caucus is comprised of many dedicated individuals who are more than capable of leading our party and the House of Representatives into the future.”
However, on Dec. 12, Pelosi announced that Cisneros was among a group of Democrats that would drop their opposition to her becoming speaker again–in exchange for term limits on House leadership positions.
“We wish to thank Nancy Pelosi for her willingness to work with us to reach this agreement,” read a statement signed by seven Members of Congress, including Cisneros. “We are proud that our agreement will make lasting institutional change that will strengthen our caucus and will help develop the next generation of Democratic leaders. We will support and vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House in the 116th Congress.”
Also among the seven Democrat signees was incumbent Representative Linda Sanchez (D-Lakewood), whose 38th District mostly covers southeastern portions of Los Angeles County, although it does include La Palma in Orange County. Voters in the 38th did not receive NRCC texts.
As for Cisneros, his campaign was quick to jump on the NRCC attack–as well as the timing of it. This is from an email to supporters:
THIS MORNING: Gil Cisneros was sworn into the 116th Congress.
THEN: National Republicans launched their very first paid attacks of the 2020 election cycle. One of their top targets? Gil Cisneros in CA-39.
Matt, the Republican playbook against Gil has always been to divide our community with expensive and misleading attack ads. But we didn’t expect them to start on day one. Gil was sworn in just hours ago and we need to counter these attacks right away.
That’s followed by a bit of turnabout is fair play.
Can you rush a donation to help us fight the Republicans’ early attacks against Gil? It’s so crucial we set the record straight and send a message that Democrats are united and ready to protect our victory in CA-39.
To find out which other districts in California and across the country got texts, see Gallo’s post, “NRCC Launches First Paid Campaign Ads of the 2020 Cycle.”
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.