Mark DeSaulnier re-elected to the 11th Congressional District
on November 4, 2020
Incumbent Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) will continue to represent the state’s 11th Congressional District after winning another two years in office on Tuesday evening.
DeSaulnier, who represents a large swath of Contra Costa County, was boosted to victory with approximately 75% of the vote across his district. His victory comes just months after he was hospitalized for a rib fracture and pneumonia in Washington, D.C., according to a recent report in the San Francisco Chronicle. He stayed in the hospital for more than a month, but has made a full recovery and is confident about his health.
“I actually think my health scare makes me a better representative,” he said. “When you come that close to death, every day is a gift and you want to make the most of every day and every moment.”
DeSaulnier received strong support in Richmond, where he earned more than 75% of the vote in all but four precincts. The city, which made national headlines with the election of a Green Party mayor in 2006, has a track record as a progressive stronghold in elections. In some precincts, DeSaulnier, a member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, led his opponent, Republican Nisha Sharma, by more than 80 percentage points.
“I really believe we need to move to the left and I have a record and I have measurements that I’m proud of in Congress and throughout my career as being progressive,” DeSaulnier said. “But [I] also [believe in] being respectful to people who disagree with me as long as their opinions are not completely abhorrent to me.”
Sharma, a realtor and small business owner, is an Indian immigrant who ran on promises to fight federal tax increases, address homelessness and crack down on illegal immigration, according to her campaign website. She was endorsed by President Donald Trump and politically aligned herself with his campaign on her social media platforms.
Sharma’s campaign did not respond to Richmond Confidential’s repeated requests for comment on Election Day. As of noon on Nov. 4, she had not publicly conceded the race, which was called by the Associated Press in DeSaulnier’s favor at 10:07 p.m. Tuesday.
In the months leading up to the election, Sharma hosted several car rallies that drove through cities in Contra Costa County, encouraging attendees to bring American and Back the Blue flags, according to an event posting on her campaign’s Facebook page. She also visited Wat Lao Rattanaram, a Buddhist temple in Richmond’s North & East neighborhood.
DeSaulnier, who has represented the district since 2015, said he has a “strong affection” for Richmond and remains committed to giving residents “a voice.” He said his priorities for Richmond in Congress are currently focused on education and health.
As a former juvenile probation officer, DeSaulnier said he sits on the House Education Committee and has fought for juvenile diversion programs and funding for family engagement centers across the country. Additionally, he said he has helped establish after school programs in Richmond and has pushed through funding for Head Start programs.
He said he is also a “staunch supporter” of public health systems in Contra Costa County, which began offering a public healthcare plan in 1973 and was one of the first counties in California to do so.
“We’re going along record with that and continue to do that in Congress,” DeSaulnier said. “I’m a co-author of Medicare for All, so I want to go there. But in the interim, we keep building up the terrific infrastructure that we have in this district in Contra Costa County.”
However, DeSaulnier acknowledged on Wednesday morning that House Democrats did not see the election blowout they were hoping for, which might complicate his efforts to get progressive policy passed in his upcoming term.
“If [Republicans] take control of the House, if they have the Senate and if [Donald Trump] were to get somehow reelected, progressive policy won’t happen,” he said.
DeSaulnier said he is still “pretty confident” that Democrats will end up with the majority. If they do, he said he’s ready to fight to pass important legislation.
“It’s hard to get stuff done in [Washington] D.C. even when you’re in the majority because other parts of the country aren’t as progressive as we are,” DeSaulnier said. “The things that we see as sort of obvious things to help people – representatives that represent other parts of the country don’t always see it that way so it’ll be a challenge.”
(Lead photo: Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA) registers to vote. Photo provided by DeSaulnier’s campaign.)
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