Blue state Dems look to buck party's crime policies, get major backing from police groups in swing races

A group of Democrats running for Congress in three of California’s most competitive swing House districts are trying to flip the script on their party’s traditional approach to crime. 

Former federal prosecutor Will Rollins, state Sen. Dave Min and former state Assemblyman Adam Gray are making a tough on crime approach central to their campaigns, and they have secured endorsements from a number of law enforcement officials and police groups eager to put an end to the violent crime that has spiked across the deep-blue state in recent years.

Rollins is running to represent California’s 41st Congressional District, and last week, he flipped the endorsement of one local police group, the Palm Springs Police Officers Association, from incumbent Republican Rep. Ken Calvert, who it endorsed in 2022.


“We also got endorsed by the International Law Enforcement Officers Association, and got endorsed by the former Republican sheriff in Riverside County … and the former Republican assembly leader in California. So it’s been a big bipartisan coalition this time around, and we’re thrilled to have it,” Rollins told Fox News Digital in an interview.

Rollins helped prosecute a number of alleged drug traffickers, Iranian sanctions violators and foreign nationals accused of crimes during his time at the Department of Justice under the Obama, Trump and Biden administrations, and he says a commitment to a mission higher than oneself, regardless of party, is what Congress needs.

“I have some Republican colleagues and friends and former coworkers and family members who have talked to me about crime, and I think they’ve got some good points, and I share their concerns, and I want to make sure that I’m out there talking to voters, expressing my experience as a former federal prosecutor, whether it’s going after cartels or trying to stop fentanyl trafficking, or what we should do to modernize our border security,” he told Fox. 

“I think we need to be more vocal about that as a party, and certainly as candidates for the House of Representatives, so that voters make sure that they understand me as a person, not just my political party, but where I stand from my own life experience,” he added. 


Min is running to replace Democrat Rep. Katie Porter in California’s 47th Congressional District, and he has got the backing of the Peace Officers Research Association, the state’s largest police union and the largest statewide association of police officers in the country, as well as the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the Association of Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs and the California Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.

He authored a number of bills as a member of the state Senate that he says show his staunch support for police, including ones that targeted California’s retail theft problem, domestic violence and crime aboard public transportation. He also touts his efforts to provide more money for local police, while many in the party were pushing to defund law enforcement.

Gray is running to represent California’s 13th Congressional District, and he has the backing of Merced County District Attorney Nicole Siveira and Merced County Sheriff Vernon Warnke, who was reportedly considered by the state Republican Party as a potential candidate for governor.

He touts his record on the campaign trail as a “strong supporter of law enforcement” during his time as a member of the state Assembly, including pushing for funding to combat gang violence and retail theft, as well as opposing measures to reduce sentencing guidelines for those convicted of certain crimes.


All three candidates are facing tough paths to victory in a year when a majority in the House of Representatives could hinge on the battleground races taking place in the Golden State.

Rollins currently holds a cash advantage over Calvert, while Gray faces a well-funded Republican Rep. John Duarte. Min will need to overcome a well-known Scott Baugh, who previously served as the minority leader in the California State Assembly, and narrowly lost to Porter in the 2022 midterms.

Each of the Republican campaigns, who also have their own support from various law enforcement organizations, were eager to point out what they said were the flaws in the efforts by Rollins, Min and Gray to cozy up to police.

“Min’s effort is pure hypocrisy,” Baugh told Fox News Digital. “He has made a career of voting for the interests of criminals over victims. He is now in a panic because his soft on crime policies that let criminals go free are not popular with the voters. The voters will not be fooled by their current efforts to cover up their failed policies.”

“It’s absurd to say this guy is tough on crime,” he added, pointing to Min being arrested for DUI last year.


Calvert campaign spokesman Calvin Moore accused Rollins of supporting California Gov. Gavin Newsom’s crime agenda, which he said led to the environment that preceded the need to appear tough on crime.

“Rollins is desperate to paper over his record because he’s been lock-step with Gov. Newsom’s failed soft-on-crime policies that have unleashed chaos in our neighborhoods,” Moore said.

“You can’t be serious about crime if you won’t reform Prop 47, which legalized theft, or sanctuary state laws, which put the rights of criminal illegal immigrants before the safety of families. That’s why Ken Calvert has the support of virtually every law enforcement organization in the district,” he added, noting Calvert’s backing by a number of law enforcement groups.

Duarte campaign strategist Diance Dichiara told Fox that both Democrat and Republican law enforcement leaders were standing behind the congressman’s re-election because “he’s keeping our kids safe by working with both parties to write a new law that takes the fight to the drug gangs poisoning our community.”

“Adam Gray is a progressive extremist who has spent years trying to impose San Francisco policies on Valley families. In Sacramento, he protected domestic abusers instead of women by voting to seal criminal records. He protected drug cartels instead of our kids by voting to end minimum sentences for drug offenses. More recently, Gray protected violent protestors instead of Jewish students when he refused to stand up to the hateful riots taking place at California colleges,” he added.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Ben Petersen told Fox that the effort by the three Democrats was just an attempt to cover up their past support for opposing positions on crime.

“After weeks of blistering attacks on their records, Dave Min, Will Rollins and Adam Gray’s desperation is showing as they flail around struggling to flip the script. Californians suffering under Democrats’ disastrous policies won’t be fooled by these laughable attempts to rewrite reality,” Petersen said.

Elections analysts rate the race for California’s 13th Congressional District a “tossup,” the race for the 41st Congressional District either “lean Republican,” “tilt Republican” or a “tossup,” and the race for the 47th Congressional either “lean Democratic,” “tilt Democratic” or a “tossup.”

Get the latest updates from the 2024 campaign trail, exclusive interviews and more at our Fox News Digital election hub.

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