Dana Watch: Riggy Rants

Illustration by Bob Aul

Before he was a Costa Mesa mayor and city councilman, Jim Righeimer was the campaign manager for Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s wet nurse)—which only adds to the sting of Riggy’s recent takedown of his former boss for the conservative National Review.

Although Hillary Clinton carried the 48th Congressional District in the November 2016 presidential election, there were fears that Democrats would be shut out of the 2018 general election. That was because there were 16 names on the June 5 primary ballot, under California’s “jungle primary” system only the top two overall vote-getters would advance to the general election regardless of party affiliation, a well-heeled pair of Democrats (Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead) appeared poised to cancel each other out, and a late entry in the race by well-known local Republican Scott Baugh created the strong possibility that he and incumbent Rohrabacher would be the two squaring off in this November’s general election.

Righeimer, who supported Baugh in the primary, blames Rohrabacher, Nancy Pelosi and his own political party for preventing what the Democrats viewed as a nightmare scenario: a guarantee that a seat in a district Clinton had won would remain in the hands of Republicans. Referring to Rohrabacher, Righeimer writes in his National Review piece, “The result is that a weak and feckless incumbent will face a multimillion-dollar onslaught from a Democrat and a potential loss in November.”

In running down the ammunition Democrats will have to draw from, Righeimer mentions Rohrabacher’s:

• already too-long tenure in Congress (30 years and counting);

• “weak legislative record,” demonstrated by his not having passed a bill in 14 years;

• “head-scratching views” such as “dinosaur flatulence causes global warming and that people should be allowed to refuse to sell homes to homosexuals”;

• “cult-like fixation on marijuana”;

• “unwavering defense of Vladimir Putin”;

• addiction to “congressional travel perks (a record 172 foreign trips)” that he tried unsuccessfully to have extended to his family at taxpayer expense. (“Apparently, the excess of $1 million Rohrabacher has paid his wife out of his campaign in the last 15 years was insufficient to cover his family travel.”)

It is stunning that Rohrabacher’s former campaign manager just laid out the talking points for Rouda, the primary’s No. 2 vote-getter. Read Righeimer’s full article to see how the campaign-funding decisions by the GOP, Democrats and Rohrabacher may very well flip what until very recently had been a safe Republican seat.

Got Dana Watch fodder? Email mcoker@ocweekly.com.

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 paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.

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