Rep. Katie Porter is leaving the House to run for U.S. Senate — and there are 10 candidates eager to fill her seat.

In the race for California’s 47th congressional district are four Democrats — state Sen. Dave Min, real estate broker Boyd Roberts, voting rights advocate Joanna Weiss and security officer Shariq Zaidi — and three Republicans — former GOP Assembly leader Scott Baugh, nuclear engineer Long Pham and businessman Max Ukropina.

There are also three no party preference candidates in the race: economics professor Terry Crandall, chemical engineer Tom McGrath and retired general counsel Bill Smith.

While the race, as of late, has heated up between Min and Weiss —the two Democrats have recently begun airing attack ads against each other — labor-related issues have also taken center stage as a key issue this election, particularly after a year of workers’ strikes across the Golden State.

Economic well-being is a priority for voters this election cycle, a 2023 survey of California voters by the Public Policy Institute of California found. Roughly one in four likely voters polled said the availability of well-paying jobs is “a big problem in their region,” and about one in four lower-income voters said that “the lack of well-paying jobs in their region is making them seriously consider moving out of the state,” according to the survey.

Voter Guide Series

Editor’s Note: This story is part of a series breaking down each of the six congressional races in 2024 in Orange County. We explore the districts and candidates’ platforms. For more, check out our comprehensive voter guide here.

Both Weiss and Min support federal legislation that would “expand various labor protections related to employees’ rights to organize and collectively bargain in the workplace,” according to the bill. The legislation, still awaiting action in the U.S. Senate, would prohibit employers from permanently replacing workers who strike and not allowing employees to return to work, referred to as a “lockout” in a labor dispute, until they agree to what the employer is offering.

If signed into law, the legislation would allow unions to “encourage participation of union members in strikes initiated by employees represented by a different labor organization,” and prohibit employers from taking legal action against unions that do so, according to the bill. Having employees attend company meetings “designed to discourage union membership” would also be an unfair labor practice under the legislation.

“Collective bargaining helps level the playing field between employees and employers. There is a reason that the steep decline in the middle class in this country has occurred at the same time as the decline in unions,” said Min, a former UC Irvine professor who is backed by the state Democratic Party, has the support of more than 20 labor organizations, including the California Labor Federation, the Orange County Labor Federation and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees.

Weiss, in a questionnaire posed by the Register, noted that she’s the daughter and granddaughter of union members. “I know firsthand the power that unions have to support and lift up working families,” she said.

When she announced her campaign, Weiss, the founder of the progressive grassroots organization, Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE) Action Fund, vowed to advocate for affordable housing, reduce homelessness, address climate change and protect women’s rights. She’s backed by Emily’s List, a political organization that supports Democratic women.

Roberts said he is working to put on the ballot a measure that seeks to create an online university headed by the University of California system. That online university, dubbed University of California Online (UCO), would be the “largest university in the world and employ scores of thousands of high-paying union jobs in the 47th congressional district and all of California,” he said. (Unrelated to the proposed ballot measure, UC officials are looking into whether fully online degree programs are effective.)

According to Roberts’ proposed measure, UCO would provide online courses for credit toward an academic degree for anyone who pays tuition and also provide free public access to all online courses not for credit. Roberts, who challenged former Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in 2018, has tried to place the measure before voters in past years as well.

Zaidi did not participate in the Register’s Voter Guide and did not respond to a request for comment.

Among the Republican candidates is Baugh, endorsed by the California Republican Party as well as the county GOP. When asked about a policy he would champion to support workers, Baugh said he would “seek to both strengthen federal laws and fund enforcement of federal laws that crack down on the practice of allowing employers to knowingly hire and retain undocumented immigrants.”

Baugh said that practice contributes to people crossing the border illegally.

“We must remove the incentives that attract illegal crossings, secure our border and enforce the law,” he said.

Ukropina, on the other hand, blamed the government for “drastically devaluing the dollar.” Touting his background as a businessman, Ukropina said that he knows how to “slash federal spending and address our debt crisis” as well as terminate the omnibus bill, which is a big bill that packages many smaller bills.

“Your family should no longer bear the burden of Washington, D.C.’s financial mismanagement,” he said.

Pham — who said his political philosophy is: “No benefit is free, so pay as you go.” — said labor is an issue over which Sacramento has more power and responsibility than Congress. On his campaign website, Pham says he will oppose tax increases and “promote more oil and energy exploration” to bring down gas prices.

Of the no party preference candidates, Crandall said the state’s universal prekindergarten program would be a great policy for kids and their working parents because it could reduce daycare costs for parents and prepare young children for school. According to the California Department of Education, local educational agencies are required to make transitional kindergarten available to all 4-year-olds by the 2025-26 school year.

McGrath, who bills himself as “fiscally conservative, socially liberal,” said he would support universal healthcare coverage to “connect unemployed Californians to health coverage” and provide healthcare for workers in non-traditional work, including gig employment, independent contracting, temporary employment and on-call work.

Smith, who said he formerly chaired the board of the United Labor Bank, said he is “intimately aware of the importance of — and the problems facing — workers and organized labor.”

“As such, I will fully support not one, but many labor-related policies and principles, among others: the rights of labor to organize, the rights of individuals to have their dues support their personal political choices, the rights of workers to safe work environments and, within the scope of broader federal laws, the rights of individual states to control how they regulate labor and wages,” he said.

Candidates also differed on several other issues, including military and financial assistance to foreign countries, border security, the environment and the role of the Supreme Court.

On assistance to foreign countries, most candidates expressed support for providing military and/or financial aid to foreign countries. But Ukropina, who bills himself as an “America first” candidate, said the U.S. “cannot afford to be pulled into fighting another country’s war.”

“We are $34 trillion in debt. Military recruitment is down. Once our border is secure and our debt is under control, we can begin to consider increasing aid to other nations,” he said.

Roberts is the only candidate in the race to state his opposition to financially supporting Israel as it continues its offensive following the October terrorist attack by Hamas. His opposition is due to what he said is “apartheid, the overreach and the punitive famine — unfolding before our eyes — perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people.”

“Palestinians have the right to pursue happiness, too,” he said. “Until I see an end game that can lead to peace, prosperity and a two-state solution, I will not support aid to Israel.”

State of the race

CA-47 is one of 37 California seats held by Democrats that the national GOP’s campaign arm sees as a “prime pick up” for Republicans. The Democratic Party also has labeled the seat as a “key to winning a Democratic House majority.”

In recent weeks, the race has ramped up as Weiss has released ads that criticize Min over his DUI arrest last year. Min’s campaign, on the other hand, has accused Weiss of self-funding her campaign with money her husband, an attorney, made by representing the Catholic Church in sexual abuse cases, as reported by the Daily Beast.

The seat is deemed “lean Democrat” by the Cook Political Report, which analyzes elections. According to state data, Democrats account for 35.6% of all the registered voters in the district, while 34.3% are Republicans and 23.8% are no party preference voters.

CA-47, in just Orange County, includes Huntington Beach, Newport Beach and portions of Laguna Beach on the coast, as well as Costa Mesa and Irvine inland.

According to the latest fundraising totals, Baugh leads the pack. He reported raising $432,236 in the last quarter of 2023, ending the year with about $1.7 million still left to spend.

Here are the other candidates’ latest fundraising haul from the last quarter of 2023 and cash-on-hand totals:

Crandall: $10,175 raised; $5,317 cash on hand

McGrath: $12,000 raised; $6,650 cash on hand

Min: $315,183 raised; $835,374 cash on hand

Pham: Has not reported any fundraising

Roberts: Has not reported any fundraising

Smith: Has not reported any fundraising

Ukropina: $42,609 raised; $187,994 cash on hand

Weiss: $328,629 raised; $880,392 cash on hand

Zaidi: Has not reported any fundraising

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Primary ballots went out to all registered voters on Monday, Feb. 5. Ballot drop boxes also opened on Monday and voting centers will open on Feb. 24. The Orange County Registrar’s office is providing in-person voting, voter registration, replacement ballots and other general assistance.