The Sacramento Bee: Republican Kevin Kiley, Democrat Jessica Morse to battle in close November House Race

The Republican incumbent and a Democratic challenger will vie to represent California’s 3rd Congressional District, a right-leaning stretch of the northern Sierra Nevada. 

Rep. Kevin Kiley, R-Roseville, and Democrat Jessica Morse, a former deputy secretary working on wildfire resilience at the California Natural Resources Agency, will advance to the Nov. 5 general election, the Associated Press projected. 

Kiley had 51.1% of the votes that had been counted when the AP called the race around 9:45 p.m. Morse was following with 46.9%. The AP estimated that 37% of votes in the district had been counted. 

The 3rd, which covers Sacramento suburbs and reaches down to Death Valley, includes Alpine, Inyo, Mono, Nevada, Placer, Plumas and Sierra counties, plus parts of El Dorado, Sacramento and Yuba counties. 

Retaining California’s 3rd will be important for Republicans to maintain the House majority, which nonpartisan analysts say is up for grabs in 2024. Election forecasters who rate House races based on whether a Democrat or Republican could win predicted Kiley will “likely” rather than “definitely” keep his seat, putting it in play.

A frequent critic of Gov. Gavin Newsom, Kiley, 39, was first elected to Congress in 2022, after running in the failed gubernatorial recall. Born and raised in the greater Sacramento area, he had been a member of the California State Assembly since 2016, and ran in the failed recall against Newsom in 2021. 

Morse, 42, was appointed deputy secretary for forest and wildland resilience at the California Natural Resources Agency in 2019. She also worked on the Biden administration’s U.S. Wildland Fire Mitigation and Management Commission to make recommendations on how federal agencies should handle wildfires. Born in Pacifica, Morse lost to, but out-fundraised, Rep. Tom McClintock, R-Elk Grove, in 2018 before redistricting. 

The top two vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the Nov. 5 general election. 

No-party-preference candidate Robert Smith, an Army veteran, was also on the ballot. 

Polls closed at 8 p.m. on March 5. Early results started coming in after that, but it will take weeks before all ballots are counted. California’s secretary of state will certify primary results by April 12.

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