The damage from the recent California oil spill has so far been less disastrous than initially feared, but it has thrust the issue of offshore oil drilling on the West Coast into some of the most hotly contested US House races in the country.
The spill created a plume that threatened beaches and wetlands all along the edge of GOP Rep. Michelle Steel’s 48th Congressional District, one of three Golden State House districts Republicans flipped in November 2020. Democrats, hoping to stem the traditional losses from a president’s first midterm election, are trying to win back seats like the 48th District — and in offshore drilling they see a potential wedge issue that could alienate voters from their GOP representatives.
It has long been true in deep blue California, where the Democratic governor overwhelmingly survived an effort to recall him last month, that a sizable portion of Republican voters also are against new offshore drilling, creating a political issue that doesn’t cleave neatly along party lines. Candidates on both sides in the 48th District race.