Democratic Congressmen Mike Thompson of St. Helena and Jared Huffman of San Rafael held large leads in their bids for re-election late Tuesday night, with both veteran legislators facing little-known challengers in districts dominated by Democratic voters.
The two incumbents, who collectively raised more than $2.8 million, campaigned throughout their own districts and spent time and money boosting other Democrats in an apparently successful nationwide push to regain a majority in the House of Representatives.
Thompson, who raised nearly $2 million in campaign funds, and Huffman, with nearly $880,000, ran in districts where Democratic voters outnumber Republicans by more than 2 to 1.
Thompson, 67, who has never lost an election, appeared to secure his 11th term in Congress with 78 percent of the vote in the 5th Congressional District, which includes Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Cotati and Sonoma Valley, all of Napa County and parts of Lake, Solano and Contra Costa counties.
His opponent, political newcomer Anthony Mills, 67, of Vallejo ran as an independent. He had 22 percent of the vote Tuesday night.
“I feel pretty confident that I will be able to continue representing the district,” Thompson said at a Democratic victory party at a Santa Rosa restaurant, accompanied by his granddaughter, Hallie Thompson, 19.
The younger Thompson said she voted for the first time earlier Tuesday at the Napa County Registrar of Voters office.
“It was a really cool experience,” she said, enhanced by the presence of her grandfather’s name on the ballot.
Mike Thompson said he was enthused by the Democrats taking control of the House for the first time since 2010, midway through former President Barack Obama’s first term.
Thompson, who was first elected to the House in 1998, said many Democrats attributed their losses to voting for the Affordable Care Act, Obama’s signature health care legislation.
“It’s important to have Democrats leading the way,” Thompson said, on issues like infrastructure and health care, including coverage for pre-existing conditions.
The House also can “put the brakes on some of the crazy things he’s doing,” Thompson said, referring to President Donald Trump.
Huffman, 54, was on track to win his fourth term with 75 percent of the vote in the 2nd Congressional District, which stretches from Marin County to the Oregon border.
Republican Dale Mensing, 60, of Garberville, opposing Huffman for the third straight time, had 25 percent. Mensing is a grocery store cashier in the Humboldt County hamlet of Redway.
“We should be in good shape and it feels pretty good,” Huffman said. “I’m excited to have a fourth term in Congress and especially excited to be in the majority.”
Huffman was first elected to Congress in 2012, two years after his party lost control. The “real game-changer” for House Democrats, he said, lies in “oversight and accountability.”
“As an independent branch of the government with gavels and subpoenas we can go right to work,” Huffman said.
Republicans will still control the Senate, but Huffman said he believes there is “tremendous potential” for bipartisan work on issues like infrastructure and protecting young immigrants threatened with deportation.