Republican infighting on display in ad attacking Congressman Rohrabacher

Ad attacking Congressman Dana Rohrabacher

Republicans are slinging mud before the June 5 primary, where incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is facing challenges from all sides.

Amid weak fundraising reports, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) is now facing criticism not only from Democrats seeking to oust him, but also from his fellow Republicans. A new Republican-aligned super PAC is out with a 30-second attack ad hammering Rohrabacher six weeks ahead of the pivotal June 5 primary.

When first elected to Congress 30 years ago, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher claimed to support term limits. As he runs for a sixteenth term, the new ad claims “money changed Congressman Rohrabacher. That’s why we need to change congressmen.”

The ad points out Rohrabacher has been paid more than $4 million over the course of his 30 years in Washington, D.C., and has used campaign funds to pay his wife more than $1 million.

The ad is likely intended to help Former Orange County GOP Chairman Scott Baugh, a former friend of Rohrabacher’s, entered the race to replace him. Baugh recently launched his own ad attacking Rohrabacher, portraying the congressmen as giving marijuana to Russian dictator Vladimir Putin.

Rohrabacher, for his part, already attacked Baugh through mailers sent to residents of the district.

“Over the course of the past week, our household has received three pieces of mail from Mr. Rohrabacher attempting to smear Scott Baugh, one of 15 candidates challenging him,” says Erik Weigand, treasurer of the Orange County Republicans. “Additionally, my Facebook feed has been filled with numerous advertisements calling Mr. Baugh a corrupt politician.”

The OC Weekly describes one of the mailers, which claims Baugh is “The Lobbyist Money Can Buy,” and says Baugh is ready to join the “D.C. Swamp.” Weigand says he is “frustrated” that Rohrabacher is ignoring the issues and turning instead to “dirty politics.”

It is no surprise that Rohrabacher is avoiding substantive issues. Several polls show Rohrabacher is out of touch with a rapidly diversifying Orange County. He often uses racist rhetoric to describe immigrants, and his antiquated views on energy policy lead to him supporting more oil drilling off the coast of California, despite steep opposition from residents. With health care as a top voter concern this year, Rohrabacher’s staunch opposition to the Affordable Care Act could be detrimental.

Of course, Rohrabacher’s ties to Russia and special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation continue to overshadow his other activities.

Because of California election law, the two people who receive the most votes in the June 5 primary move forward to the November 6 general election, even if they are both from the same party. Rohrabacher also faces competition from several Democrats, and the district is considered one of the most competitive, not only in California, but in the nation. If Baugh can garner enough support among Republicans, and Democratic voters are evenly split, two Republicans could end up on the ballot in November.

Some Democratic candidates, fearing such a result, dropped out and endorsed fellow Democrat Harley Rouda, a businessman who has thus far amassed more campaign cash than the sluggish Rohrabacher.

With threats coming from all sides, Rohrabacher is resorting to mudslinging, even against an old friend. With weak fundraising and positions at odds with constituents, “dirty politics” may be all Rohrabacher has left to offer.