Democratic energy is reaching beyond rallies and protests, and showing up in the race for campaign cash. After the release of the latest figures, Republican incumbent Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is trailing Democratic challenger Harley Rouda in total campaign cash on hand by more than $200,000.
The fact that an incumbent is being outraised by a challenger is a major red flag, according to election experts.
“A big plus to being a political incumbent is the easy access to campaign cash,” says the San Francisco Chronicle. “But the latest federal campaign finance figures, released this week by the Federal Election Commission, suggest some targeted Republicans may be squandering that advantage.” The article goes on to call out Rohrabacher specifically for lackluster fundraising numbers.
Rohrabacher, who is widely known as “Putin’s favorite congressman” because of his unusually strong affinity for Russia and Russia’s dictator, has $901,000.
Other Democrats are also raising significant campaign funds to fight for the opportunity to oust Rohrabacher.
Omar Siddiqui has $861,000 cash on hand, close on Rohrabacher’s heels. And Hans Keirstead, another Democrat hoping to make it through a crowded primary field, has $642,000 cash on hand.
Both Rouda and Keirstead already released 30-second ads, seeking to gain support ahead of the June 5 primary.
Rohrabacher’s fundraising struggles are nothing new. He was outraised in the last quarter of 2017 by both Keirstead and Rouda, foreshadowing his election year struggles.
In addition to his ties to Russia — including ties to characters caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia — Rohrabacher finds himself at odds with a rapidly changing district.
His extreme anti-immigrant rhetoric does not reflect today’s Orange County. “Orange County is changing. It’s more young, more Latino and more Asian,” says Fred Smoller, a political science professor at Chapman University.
Yet Rohrabacher continues to falsely equate immigrants with crime and terrorism, and remains steadfastly opposed to DACA, the program started by President Obama to provide legal protections to young people who were brought to America as children.
Smoller recently conducted a poll showing Rohrabacher on the opposite side of his constituents on other issues as well. Orange County residents want the federal government to do more on the issue of gun control, making Rohrabacher’s A rating from the NRA, and long history of loosening restrictions on gun ownership (even among the mentally ill) problematic.
The poll also showed coastal residents in favor of environmental regulations, and others have shown voters opposed to more oil drilling off the coast of California. Rohrabacher has long been an avid cheerleader for more oil drilling.
The combination of lackluster fundraising and being on the wrong side of key issues paints a dim picture for Rohrabacher’s re-election chances in November.