Dana Watch: Rouda v. Rohrabacher

Illustration by Bob Aul

The final primary-election count from the Orange County Registrar of Voters determined that Democrat Harley Rouda received the second-most votes in the 48th Congressional District race and will thereby face incumbent Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-Putin’s massage table) in November.

Fellow Democrat Hans Keirstead had the most second-place votes after the June 5 Election Day ballots were counted, but after all mail-in votes were added, Rouda had received 125 more votes than the stem-cell researcher. “We had a spirited primary, engaged voters and made sure the nation knows that we can flip the 48th in 2018,” Keirstead said in his concession statement. “After weeks of hard work counting every ballot, I congratulate Harley Rouda on advancing to the general election to do just that.”

Keirstead was also among the Orange County Democrats who did not support Rouda in the primary yet have now revealed they will back the Laguna Beach businessman (and former Republican) in the general election. Rouda’s victory also unearthed new support from several prominent Democrats, including California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom, one of the two candidates for governor in November, and former Vermont governor Howard Dean, who went on to chair the Democratic National Committee through 2009.

Members of Congress Ted Lieu (D-Manhattan Beach) and Julia Brownley (D-Thousand Oaks) also jumped onto the Rouda train, joining colleagues who had backed him in the primary, such as Lou Correa (D-Santa Ana), Alan Lowenthal (D-Long Beach), Judy Chu (D-Claremont), Mark Takano (D-Riverside), Pete Aguilar (D-San Bernardino), Zoe Lofgren (D-San Jose), Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks), Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael), Linda Sanchez (D-Norwalk) and her history-making sister Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove, 1997-2017).

Despite high-powered support, Rouda, on paper, has a tough race ahead to overtake 30-year incumbent Rohrabacher, who received 30.3 percent of the votes in the primary to the Democrat’s 17.3 percent. The names of 16 candidates were on the ballot for the 48th, which only sent the top two to the general election. “I am grateful that people of the 48th District gave me a vote of confidence well beyond any of the others in this hotly contested race,” says Rohrabacher in a statement posted on his website.

Rouda sees it differently.

“Today, 70 percent of voters in the 48th District rejected Dana Rohrabacher,” Rouda said upon the primary-election results being certified. “They sent a truly resounding statement that they’re ready to say goodbye to the divisive and hateful politics of our failed incumbent congressman and Donald Trump.”

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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