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Potential Democratic Challenger Emerges in California

Knight is a freshman Republican from California. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

A possible Democratic challenger is emerging in California's Simi Valley to take on freshman Republican Rep. Steve Knight.  

Maria Gutzeit, a member of the Santa Clarita Water Board, told CQ Roll Call Tuesday she's spoken to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, EMILY's List and others about the race. She said her decision will come down to whether she sees a path to victory.  

"I’ve been talking to local people, trying to gauge support," Gutzeit said in a phone interview.  

Gutzeit, a chemical engineer, was first elected to the five-person board of the Newhall County Water District in 2003. The board helps ensure there is adequate water supply for the county, located in the Santa Clarita Valley. Water has been a hot topic in California in recent months, as a pervasive drought is causing the state to impose mandatory restrictions on water use.  

Gutzeit has unsuccessfully run for the Santa Clarita City Council twice, in 2008 and 2014.  

Democrats squandered a pick-up opportunity in the 25th District in 2014, when Republican Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon retired . Two Republicans advanced to the general election from the top-two primary, shutting Democrats out .  

But the district is competitive territory. Mitt Romney carried it by 2 points in 2012, while President Barack Obama won it by 1 point four years earlier.  

Knight raised less than $30,000 in the first three months of the year, which is a paltry sum for an incumbent seeking re-election, and he ended March with $29,000 in the bank.  

Video also surfaced Tuesday of Knight threatening an anti-immigration protester at an event in his district. He apologized for the incident, but the video could be used against him in advertising.  

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