Adam Schiff Ran Against Impeachment in First Campaign for Congress

Adam Schiff 2000 (Mark Terrill / Associated Press)
Mark Terrill / Associated Press

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) won his first race for Congress in 2000 by targeting a Republican who led the impeachment of President Bill Clinton.

Then-Rep. James Rogan (R-CA) had been selected to be one of the two “managers” who led the prosecution of President Clinton in the Senate in 1999. Schiff, running in 2000, accused Rogan of neglecting important issues in his congressional district.

The Daily Caller News Foundation dug up coverage of the race:

“Impeachment as a political issue has all but disappeared from America’s political radar in this election, with even Al Gore refusing to make the partisan death match of 1998 and 1999 a campaign issue in the year 2000. But here, in California’s 27th District, Rogan’s battle with Democratic state Sen. Adam Schiff seems the last bloody battle of the impeachment war,” Anthony York recounted in an October 2000 Salon article.

Schiff “used impeachment as a fundraising tool,” York noted in the article …

The Washington Post reported in May 2000 that while other issues were more important to the race, Schiff had attacked Rogan for leading the impeachment effort: “Schiff’s campaign literature hammers away on Rogan’s role in the impeachment proceedings, while Rogan in his direct mail to donors pleads for an ’emergency pledge of support’ to ‘stand with me as Bill Clinton and his Hollywood liberal friends wage their destructive warfare against me.'”

CNN reported: “Specter of impeachment haunts Rep. Jim Rogan’s re-election effort.” The Center Square recently recalled:

Following the impeachment of Bill Clinton, in the House election of 2000, Democrats made defeating Jim Rogan their highest priority. Adam Schiff was delegated as Clinton’s hatchet-man on the left coast.

When Clinton was acquitted in 1999 of perjury and obstruction of justice charges, the Clintons vowed to take Jim Rogan out. And together with a loyal pack of national leftist operatives, they engineered the biggest funneling of Democratic money into a single U.S. House race in American history. To distance them from Clinton’s affairs, they picked Adam Schiff, a fledgling leftist party lapdog as their pawn to checkmate Rogan’s career.

The election of 2000 was the most noxiously repugnant, clandestine and brutal campaign in U.S. history. From the day the party tossed Schiff’s Dodgers cap into the ring, the left’s propaganda machine was in overdrive to defame Rogan. They were on a mission not to just defeat him, but to destroy him. Bill Clinton even held a fundraiser in Washington for Schiff. This was the first time in history a president hosted a fundraiser for a congressional candidate who was not an incumbent.

During the first debate between Rogan and Schiff, the moderator focused on issues the winner was to face in Congress the next year. The town hall was packed with Democrats who badgered and berated Rogan from the time he stepped on stage. They demanded he address impeachment. But Rogan wouldn’t take the bait: “That’s not why we’re here. Why is the Lewinsky affair now my prime identification?” The crowd boisterously chanted, “We demand a ‘shift’ in Congress”. Rogan eagerly replied: “I’m more proud to have served on House impeachment than anything else I’ve ever done.”

The Los Angeles Times reported in 2000 after the election, when the winner in the close race was not yet clear:

Throughout most of the campaign, impeachment haunted the race like a powerful, unmentionable poltergeist.

The “I-word” scarcely passed Schiff’s lips. But across the district, which stretches from the Los Angeles suburbs of Sunland and Tujunga to Burbank, Glendale, Pasadena and San Marino, the distant sounds of the trial echoed in the persistent bleating of partisans nationwide and the ceaseless “ka-ching” of the campaign money machines.

Though Republicans were grateful for Rogan’s effort, he recalled in his 2011 memoir, Catching Our Flag: Behind the Scenes of a Presidential Impeachment, then-Gov. George W. Bush threw him under the bus as voters turned against impeachment. Though Bush campaigned twice in Rogan’s district, he never once mentioned his name — as if Rogan, not Clinton, had done something wrong.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard College, and a J.D. from Harvard Law School. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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