The results of the California primary are finally in, and Democratic candidate Harley Rouda is set to face off against Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) in November. Rohrabacher’s dismal performance in the primary combined with the fact that he will face a well-financed Democrat led the L.A. Times to determine he is in increased danger of losing the election.
“It’s looking more and more likely that Rohrabacher will lose this seat,” declared the L.A. Times, even before all the votes were done being counted. “Even if Rohrabacher can consolidate the Republican vote — he won only 30 percent in the primary — Democrats have a good shot at unseating him.”
In the L.A. Times ranking of California congressional seats, Rohrabacher moved up one spot from fourth to third. He only trails the open seats left vacant by retiring Rep. Darrell Issa and perpetually embattled incumbent Rep. Steve Knight of Palmdale.
Rohrabacher’s 30 percent of the primary vote was the lowest percentage won by any Republican incumbent running for re-election in the entire state of California.
Some political pundits wondered if a Democratic candidate would move past the primary to face Rohrabacher. In California, the top two candidates, regardless of party, move on to the general election.
Rohrabacher protogee-turned-rival Scott Baugh entered the primary and hoped to siphon enough votes from the embattled Rohrabacher to come in second. However, Baugh finished fourth behind Rohrabacher, Rouda, and Democrat Hans Keirstead.
Rohrabacher made headlines shortly before the primary when he came out in favor of housing discrimination against the LGBTQ community. Rohrabacher stood by his homophobic comments, a position the Human Rights Campaign called “unconscionable.”
At the time, Rouda called the comments “outlandish and unacceptable,” continuing, “What Dana Rohrabacher fails to understand is discrimination is discrimination.”
Rohrabacher also voted to gut the popular Affordable Care Act and replace it with a Republican bill that would have had devastating consequences for California and the nation. The Rohrabacher-backed bill put an end to protections for people with pre-existing conditions and sough to impose an “Age Tax” on Americans aged 50-64, making health insurance cost up to thousands of dollar a year more. An estimated 23 million people would have lost health insurance under the plan Rohrabacher supported.
In addition to his unpopular votes in Congress, Rohrabacher regularly makes the news because of his unusually close ties to Russia. He has earned the nickname, “Putin’s favorite congressman,” a reference to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Rohrabacher’s affinity to Russia often wins out over his affinity to the U.S., such as the times when he has called U.S. intelligence officers, “liars” while defending Russia.
Eyes from around the nation will be closely watching races in Southern California to see if a “blue wave” will carry Democrats to regain control of the House of Representatives. Democrats need to flip 23 seats to accomplish this feat, and according to the L.A. Times, Rohrabacher could very well be one of those 23.