Their chummy relationship with Trump is in contrast to Republicans who are running in the open Orange County seats vacated by retiring Reps. Ed Royce and Darrell Issa, many of whom lack the courage to even state their views about the unpopular president.
According to the Orange County Register, of the 11 GOP candidates running to replace retiring Reps. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) and Darrell Issa (R-Vista), “only four agreed to rank Trump’s performance on a scale of 1-5. Four others did not respond to any of six Trump-related questions about Trump emailed several times by the Southern California Newspaper Group.”
Republicans are in a bind when it comes to expressing support for Trump, says political scientist Jack Pitney, a former GOP congressional aide. “They aren’t going to come out and denounce him because they don’t want to alienate his supporters. And they don’t want to wholly embrace him because they want to win in November,” he says.
In what was once a Republican stronghold, only 1 in 3 voters in the Orange/San Diego region approve of Trump. Yet Trump’s unpopularity has not stopped some Orange County Republicans from staunch loyalty.
Rohrabacher has no fear in regularly praising Trump. Both men have a great deal in common, including questionably close ties to Russia. The Trump campaign and White House is under federal investigation for possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 campaign, and Rohrabacher’s ties to the foreign adversary have come under the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller.
While constituents in his oceanfront district strongly oppose more offshore oil drilling, Rohrabacher supports the Trump administration’s plan to do just that. And even though a majority of his constituents opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act, Rohrabacher repeatedly sided with Trump and voted to repeal.
Walters has been vocal in her undeterred support of Trump. Despite Trump’s reluctance to speak out against white supremacists after Charlottesville, and even though Trump regularly uses racist language, Walters proudly said, “He’s the president of our party. He stands for what we stand for.”
While Pitney notes, “Trump is toxic in the suburbs,” incumbents like Rohrabacher and Walters continue to embrace him.
In November, voters will be able to decide if they want to continue to be represented by members of Congress who are more loyal to Trump than to their own constituents.