Author: Judy

California’s first election was a surprise for the GOP candidate

California's first election was a surprise for the GOP candidate

Republican Rep. Ken Calvert defeats Democrat Will Rollins to hold Riverside County seat

This story has been updated with election results as they become available.

RIVERSIDE COUNTY, Calif. — A divided Riverside County voters delivered an unexpected rebuke of the three-time incumbent congressman from San Diego.

As of Monday night, U.S. Rep. Ken Calvert had lost the race for the 1st district to Democratic challenger Will Rollins, setting up one of the most unpredictable elections in California history.

Calvert defeated Rollins in a landslide Tuesday night. In recent weeks, there had been growing doubt over whether Calvert, a four-term congressman, could hang onto his seat. Calvert, who had the endorsement of President Obama, had held the seat for 20 of the last 24 years. And he had faced a barrage of ads from out-of-state conservative groups promoting his opponent, who has served in Congress for just eight years.

Rollins was aided by a wave of voter anger over the economy. He was also cheered when his opponent, Republican Assemblyman Nathan Fletcher, endorsed him after his campaign started to sink.

The winner of the general election, Rep. Will Rollins, was greeted by a thunderous cheer from supporters when he stepped into his district-office building at 11:13 a.m. on the first day of early voting. The scene was unlike anything that had been seen in the district in decades.

Rollins is a former state assemblyman who is now a state senator.

Rollins called the election “a real victory for the people of the 1st district,” adding, “What we saw today was a turnout surge that came on the day of early voting. There was a major shift.”

But Rollins also criticized Calvert for his voting record on illegal immigration, as well as his vote against the federal health care bill, which helped propel Obama to a historic victory in November. Calvert’s campaign was hit with $1.6 million in new spending, more than half of it from conservative groups.

Calvert’s campaign had touted his reputation as a “consensus builder,” though his campaign was criticized by two Democratic candidates for their opposition to a ballot initiative to legalize medical marijuana.

In his victory speech, Calvert said the election marked “an end to the era of the Washington DC special interest.”

Rollins, meanwhile, promised that his first order of business would be addressing a “permanent tax on

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