Election 2022: Ken Calvert, Will Rollins seek U.S. House seat for parts of Coachella Valley

Election 2022: Ken Calvert, Will Rollins seek U.S. House seat for parts of Coachella Valley

Updated: 5 months, 7 days, 14 hours, 52 minutes, 20 seconds ago

Election 2022: Ken Calvert, Will Rollins seek U.S. House seat for parts of Coachella Valley

In what could be one of California’s most competitive races for Congress this year, Inland Empire GOP Rep. Ken Calvert is vying for re-election against Democraticnewcomer Will Rollins in a new district that includes parts of the Coachella Valley.

Calvert, who was first elected to Congress in 1992, won 48% of the vote in the June primary, while Rollins, a former federal prosecutor who moved to Palm Springs earlier this year, finished second to advance to the general election.

Calvert has represented solidly conservative areas of the Inland Empire over the years, but that changed as a result of California’s redistricting process last year. The new 41st Congressional District includes several Coachella Valley cities — Palm Springs, La Quinta, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert and Indian Wells — along with Corona, Menifee and other parts of western Riverside County.

The new district has a near-even split between registered Republicans and Democrats, with no-party preference voters making up roughly 20% of its registered voters. Calvert is slightly favored to win in election projections, such as the nonpartisan Cook Political Report.

With Democrats looking to maintain control of Congress, the race has drawn substantial attention from statewide and national groups, and Rollins outraised Calvert by roughly $700,000 in the third quarter, according to campaign finance records. Calvert had roughly $1.1 million in his war chest at the end of September, compared to Rollins’ roughly $1 million.

Calvert is a major critic of the Biden administration's economic policies, arguing Democrat-led spending has caused soaring prices nationwide. His website notes a long list of Inland Empire projects he’s secured funding for as a senior member on the House Committee on Appropriations.

Calvert's campaign has painted Rollins as a carpetbagger, noting he grew up in Manhattan Beach and was registered to vote in Los Angeles County until last year.

Rollins, who is gay, points to Calvert's opposition to bills such as the Equality Act, as well as his votes against certifying the 2020 presidential election results in Pennsylvania and Arizona, as evidence that his views don't align with voters' in the region.The Equality Act would ban discrimination on the basis of sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.

Despite his past opposition to LGBTQ rights, Calvert says his views have changed, and he recently voted in favor of the Respect for Marriage Act, which would enshrine marriage equality in federal law.

Meanwhile, the Coachella Valley’s current congressman, Democratic Rep. Raul Ruiz, is seeking re-election in a district that includes Indio, Coachella, Desert Hot Springs and Cathedral City, as well as far-eastern Riverside County, a slice of San Bernardino County and all of Imperial County. He is being challenged by Republican Brian Hawkins, a city council member in San Jacinto.

Tom Coulter covers the cities of Palm Desert, Rancho Mirage, La Quinta and Indian Wells. Reach him at thomas.coulter@desertsun.com or on Twitter @tomcoulter_.