Joe Biden. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia.

With control of the U.S. House on the line, Democrats are looking to Joe Biden to give their California congressional candidates a boost Thursday.

The former vice president will be in Orange County to headline a rally for five Democrats in tight U.S. House races.

The potential Democratic presidential contender in 2020 has been using his political star power to help candidates and raise money around the country. He’s predicted that Democrats will control both chambers of Congress next year and he’s been critical of President Donald Trump’s leadership and agenda.

In a state where Trump is unpopular, Democrats are hoping to seize a string of GOP-held House districts that Hillary Clinton carried in the 2016 presidential election.

The party needs to flip control of 23 seats to take the U.S. House.

Four of the candidates scheduled to appear at the rally at California State University, Fullerton, are vying for seats in districts that are all or partly in Orange County. They are Gil Cisneros, Katie Porter, Harley Rouda and Mike Levin. The fifth candidate, TJ Cox, is seeking a seat in the Central Valley.

The races are all seen as competitive. Republicans, meanwhile, have been spending millions of dollars on advertising to defend their turf.

In Orange County, Rouda is trying to oust longtime Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the coastal 48th District, while Porter is taking on another incumbent, Rep. Mimi Walters, in the 45th District. Cisneros and Levin are competing in open seats.

Cox is facing Republican Rep. David Valadao in the 21st District.

Republicans have been losing ground in California for years. Democrats hold every statewide office, control both chambers of the Legislature and hold a 3.7 million edge in voter registrations over the GOP. Independents also outnumber GOP voters.

Democrats see the California seats as critical to their plans to take control of Congress next year. Orange County was long seen as a Republican stronghold, but Clinton carried the county in 2016, the first Democratic presidential candidate to do so since 1936.

MICHAEL R. BLOOD, Associated Press

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