Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and his Democratic challenger, Harley Rouda, have started the race for the key Orange County congressional seat in a dead heat, according to a new survey conducted by Monmouth University in New Jersey.
Rouda reportedly has a 46%-43% edge over Rohrabacher among what the poll calls “potential” voters — well within the poll’s 4.9% margin of error. The poll also found that Rouda has most support from women, voters younger than 50, and minorities. Rohrabacher has the most support from conservatives, fellow Republicans, and white voters without a college degree.
Approximately 80 percent Rouda’s voters strongly disapprove of President Donald Trump.
“A key for Rouda is motivating this part of his base,” Patrick Murray, the director of the Monmouth poll, told the Los Angeles Times.
Rohrahabacher — dubbed “Putin’s favorite congressman” by his critics, in reference to his pro-Russia foreign policy views — has also recently been mentioned in the media in connection with an alleged Russian spy who allegedly infiltrated National Rifle Association meetings in an attempt to move GOP politics in a pro-Russia direction.
On Monday, Rohrabacher reportedly said he is sure whether he is the congressman mentioned in an indictment of the spy. According to Politico, Rohrabacher said he is sure that the charge against her is “bogus.”
“It’s ridiculous. It’s stupid,” Rohrabacher reportedly said. “She’s the assistant of some guy who is the head of the bank and is a member of their Parliament. That’s what we call a spy? That shows you how bogus this whole thing is.” He reportedly added, “This is an attempt to undermine the president’s ability to have better relationships with Russia.”
Also this week, Rohrabacher was apparently duped by comedian and film star Sacha Baron Cohen on his new Showtime series, Who Is America. The episode in question related to guns, and several gun rights supporters were tricked into supporting the idea of toddlers learning to use firearms.
“At no time did I endorse training toddlers in handling guns,” Rohrabacher said, according to the Orange County Register. “Nor was the idea even presented to me directly. If it had been, I would have rejected it. In school shootings, the standard response is ‘Run, hide, fight,’ in that order. My response was perfectly consistent with that.” He added that Sacha Baron Cohen’s questions and video were “was fraud. … And its intention was to deceive the American people for political purposes.”
Rohrabacher represents the 48th congressional district, which is one of seven targeted by Democrats in 2018. Each has a Republican member of Congress and each was won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Rouda narrowly finished second in the primary, thanks to spending from the national Democratic Party and public support from its leadership
. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), who hopes to return as Speaker of the House, is determined to win the district en route to winning the roughly two dozen seats she needs to flip to take power.