6 of 9 Democrats Gunning for Rohrabacher Debate Wednesday

Debaters (from left): Hans Keirstead, Harley Rouda, Laura Oatman, Omar Siddiqui, Rachel Payne, Michael Kotick.

Democrats seeking the 48th Congressional District seat held by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s Loveseat) are scheduled to gather for a debate Wednesday in Costa Mesa.

However, not all nine announced Democratic candidates have been invited to participate in the first of four 48th District Congressional Debate Series events this month.

Set to debate from 7 to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday in Orange Coast College’s Robert B. Moore Theater are Hans Keirstead, Harley Rouda, Omar Siddiqui, Laura Oatman, Michael Kotick and Rachel Payne. Left out are fellow announced Democratic candidates Boyd Roberts, Fidel Navarro and Tony Zarkades.

Indivisible OC 48, the progressive group hosting the debate series, is basing participation on whether a candidate is an incumbent followed by the next four with the highest Voter Support Scores (VSS). The VSS formula, which is calculated with data from each campaign and the Federal Election Commission, considers the total number of donors and amounts raised from the congressional district and the total cash on hand.

Counting all Democrats, Republicans and independents, there are 13 candidates on the June open primary ballot, but with a debate duration of two hours, “we cannot have a meaningful and informative discussion of the issues. Therefore, the maximum number of contenders should not exceed five,” reasons Indivisible 48, which considers the VSS selection process “transparent” and “objective.”

Rohrabacher is skipping the debate, so the five fulfilling the VSS criteria are all Democrats. The topic of this first debate, which Indivisible 48 is hosting with Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE) and the Community Action Fund of Planned Parenthood Orange & San Bernadino Counties, is women’s rights and empowerment.

“They’re including Rachel [Payne] in this one as well, since the topic is women’s issues,” explains Leona Laurie, director of Public Relations with the Michael Kotick for Congress campaign.

The debate will allow constituents to question the invited candidates “on issues of platform and policy on a variety of women’s issues, including women’s health, the wage and achievement gap, sexual harrassment and the #MeToo Movement,” says Indivisible 48.

Topics for the remaining debates are: climate change and the environment; immigration and foreign affairs; and civil rights and healthcare. Dates and locations will be announced.

Wednesday’s debate is free but you need to RSVP to reserve a seat. Click here to do that.

Click here for more information the debate.


OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.

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