Stirred by a decade of astronomical growth, economic heartache and the rising political influence of Latinos, the Inland Empire proved treacherous territory last week for a Republican Party that just a decade ago considered it the new GOP frontier.The new normal.
Voters in Riverside and San Bernardino counties on Tuesday elected three Democrats to Congress — two Latinos and a gay Asian American — after having sent only two Democrats to Washington in the last four decades.
Before the election, Republicans represented the city of Riverside in Congress, the state Senate and the Assembly. On Tuesday, Democrats took all three seats.
The rumblings of an impending seismic shift in Inland Empire politics have been heard for years, with pressure slowly building as the GOP's share of voters declined. California's new political boundaries, crafted last year, allowed pent-up Democratic power to push to the surface and reshape a political landscape that's now more evenly divided. Contests will be much harder to predict.
"The Inland Empire was the third bastion for the GOP after Orange County and San Diego," said Shaun Bowler, a political scientist from UC Riverside. "That's not true anymore, which is a worry for the Republican Party. They've got to work harder than they have in the past."
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That's Mary Bono Mack at the photo. She took office under the widow's mandate when her then-husband, Sonny Bono, died in a skiing accident in 1998. Maggie's Notebook has more: "Connie Mack Mary Bono Mack: Connie Mack Lost Senate Bid – Mary Mack Lost House Seat."