SACRAMENTO — Kevin Kiley, a Republican state legislator whose dogged criticism of California’s governor earned him former President Donald J. Trump’s endorsement, won a tight race for a House district in northern and eastern California on Tuesday, according to The Associated Press.
Mr. Kiley, a Sacramento-area assemblyman who highlighted his conservative bona fides, defeated Kermit Jones, a Democrat who pitched himself as a pragmatic centrist. Mr. Jones, a Navy veteran and physician, was a political newcomer making his first run for office in a newly redrawn and Republican-leaning district, the Third Congressional, that extends for 450 miles from the Mojave Desert to the shore of Lake Tahoe and the southern Cascade Range.
The race was called after two weeks of counting votes. As of Tuesday evening, Mr. Kiley led Mr. Jones by more than five percentage points.
By far the more familiar name among the contenders, Mr. Kiley, a Harvard- and Yale-educated assemblyman, was regarded throughout the race as a front-runner. During the Republican-led bid to recall Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021, he was among the governor’s most vocal challengers.
Mr. Newsom fended off the recall, but Mr. Kiley’s enthusiasm for bashing the governor and his policies won him a fan in Mr. Trump, who backed him over a Republican challenger in the congressional primary.
“No one has fought Gavin Newsom harder than Kevin,” Mr. Trump said in May. “He doesn’t wait for the fight, like the do-nothing RINOs who have watched California get absolutely destroyed by the radical maniacs in Sacramento,” he said, referring to so-called Republicans In Name Only.
That endorsement, however, cut both ways.
Mr. Jones, who had served as a fellow in former President Barack Obama’s White House, garnered more support than had been expected, resisting Mr. Kiley’s efforts to portray him as a liberal ideologue.
He avoided Democratic talking points and refused to say whether he would support Speaker Nancy Pelosi for another term as Democratic leader if he were elected, and his fund-raising rivaled that of Mr. Kiley. But, as in a number of more conservative California congressional districts, Republicans held on to their edge.