Six U.S. House districts in California are open this year—the most since 2014

This year’s filing deadline for candidates running for Congress in California was Dec. 10, 2023.

Two-hundred forty-one candidates filed to run for California’s 52 U.S. House districts, including 125 Democrats, 88 Republicans, and 28 independent or minor party candidates. That’s 4.63 candidates per district. In 2022, the first election after the number of congressional districts in California decreased from 53 to 52 following the 2020 census, 5.2 candidates filed per district. 

In 2020, when the state still had 53 Congressional districts, 4.94 candidates filed per district. In 2018, 4.6 candidates filed. 

Here are some other highlights from this year’s filings:

  • The 241 candidates running in California this year are the fewest total number of candidatessince 2016, when 202 candidates ran.
  • Forty-five incumbents—34 Democrats and 11 Republicans—are running for re-election. That’s fewer than in 2022, when 47 incumbents ran.
  • Six districts are open, one more than in 2022, and the most since 2014, when six districts were also open.
  • Incumbents Barbara Lee (D-12th), Adam Schiff (D-30th), and Katie Porter (D-47th) are running for the state’s open U.S. Senate seat in November. Incumbent Sen. Laphonza Butler (D) is not running for re-election.
  • Incumbents Grace Napolitano (D-31st), Tony Cárdenas (D-29th), and Anna Eshoo (D-16th) are retiring from public office.
  • One incumbent—Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-20th)—left Congress before the end of his term. A special election will be held to fill his seat before the general election. 
  • Fifteen candidates—12 Democrats, two Republicans, and one nonpartisan—are running in the open 30th district, the most candidates running for a seat this year. 
  • Forty-two primaries are contested this year, the fewest since 2018, when 41 were contested. All 52 primaries were contested in 2022, and 47 were in 2020. In California, which uses a top-two primary system, a primary is contested if more than two candidates file to run.
  • Incumbents are running in 35 of the 42 contested primaries this year. That’s lower than 2022, when 47 incumbents ran in contested primaries, but higher than 2020, when 32 incumbents faced contested primaries. Thirty-nine incumbents did so in 2018, 36 in 2016, and 32 in 2014.
  • Democratic candidates are running in every district this cycle. Republican candidates are running in every district except one—the 37th. Two Democrats, including incumbent Sydney Kamlage-Dove, one nonpartisan candidate, and one Peace and Freedom Party member are running in that district. 

California and four other states—Alabama, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Texas—are holding primaries on March 5.

California uses a top-two primary system in which all candidates are listed on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters, regardless of their partisan affiliations, advance to the general election. Consequently, two candidates from the same political party could win in a top-two primary and face off in the general election.