Two Democrats running against supposedly vulnerable Republican House member Dana Rohrabacher in California are spending lots of energy attacking each other.
Democrats have been giddy about their chances of taking back the House of Representatives, with a two-decade high 32 Republican congressmen retiring and only 15 Democrats. But to gain control, Democrats must also knock off vulnerable incumbents.
One of the Democrats’ prime targets was supposed to be the Rohrabacher, the 69-year old Chairman of the House subcommittee on Europe and Eurasia, whom Politico has tried to smear as “Putin’s favorite Congressman.”
But the favorable opportunity has generated so much enthusiasm that 30 Democrats are officially running in five Orange County-area congressional seats held by vulnerable or retiring Republicans, including Rohrabacher.
Democrat inter-party fighting has swirled in the media since about 110 Orange County Democrat Club members voted in a caucus-style endorsement contest on Feb. 3.
Attorney and former Republican Harley Rouda has raised $1.2 million and received all the big union endorsements and cash to run against Rohrabacher. He has also signed up community leader endorsements from current and former elected officials.
But having dominated the insider game. Rouda was blindsided by University of California Irvine Professor Dr. Hans Keirstead, who won 67 percent of the caucus votes. That was short of the 70 percent needed for an automatic OC Democrat Party endorsement, but Keirstead for Congress immediately put out an official press release titled: “Dr. Hans Keirstead Wins Endorsement Recommendation From California Democratic Party In Landslide Vote.”
The statement claimed: “We are all standing up to Trump and Rohrabacher’s terrible policies and when Democrats stand together, Democrats win. Thanks to the delegates, our supporters, and to my fellow candidates for their hard work and for fighting for Democratic values.” Keirstead added, “There are still two major elections over the next 10 months; I’m dedicated to working tirelessly each day to bring Orange County the representation in Congress it deserves.”
Rouda’s campaign issued its own press release to complain, “This is another pathetic attempt by Mr. Keirstead’s campaign to distort the truth.”
The Orange County Register reported that Rouda’s opinion of the straw poll was that “It is a rigged process, with widespread corruption.” County Democrats officials deny the claim.
With $833,688 in the bank that he hoped to spend on beating up Rohrabacher, Rouda is now running a pair of attack ads against Keirstead, titled: “Preposterous.”
In the ads, Rouda blasts Keirstead as lying about being the “lead scientific advisor for the California Stem Cell Initiative,” and spinning a “phony story” that House Democrats would appoint him to a highly valued committee chairmanship.
For his part, Keirstead is touting that the Cook Political Report is now calling Rohrabacher’s district a toss-up.