“Harley Rouda is advancing to the general election on the strength of his compelling economic message, tenacious campaign, and grassroots army,” said DCCC Chairman Ben Ray Luján. “During the primary, we saw Democrats in Orange County energized like we’ve never seen them before – knocking doors, dialing voters, and talking to their neighbors about the importance of electing independent, values-driven leaders. As a businessman, father and healthcare advocate, Harley has a proven track record of creating jobs and providing opportunity to Orange County families. Next year, Harley will build on that work in Congress – and finally send Dana Rohrabacher into retirement.”
To: Interested Parties
From: Drew Godinich, DCCC Regional Press Secretary
Date: June 25, 2018
RE: The Case Against Dana Rohrabacher
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher represents the most Republican district in Orange County, and yet finds himself in one of the most competitive congressional districts in the country as a result of his three decade, accomplishment-free sojourn in Washington, links to the most unsavory elements of the DC swamp, and embrace of racism, discrimination, and anti-Semitic elements.
Despite serving as their representative for thirty years, Dana Rohrabacher’s constituents dealt him a stinging rebuke in the primary, only winning 30% of the vote – the least of any California congressional incumbent statewide. In the general election, Rohrabacher’s rapidly eroding support in the district – even among his supposed base, combined with his sagging fundraising and a bizarre and controversial track record bereft of accomplishments makes him one of the most vulnerable incumbents of the cycle. National Republicans will likely think twice before investing in this well-known Republican embarrassment.
Harley Rouda, on the other hand, has built a campaign around an impressive array of grassroots endorsements and support, including Indivisible and the California Federation of Labor. A businessman and community leader, Harley can consolidate Democrats and moderates who are key to winning this district – and he clearly has the momentum and support to carry this rapidly-changing district.
The night of the primary, Dana Rohrabacher claimed, “There’s going to be no blue wave, I will tell you right now. I’m a surfer, I can tell you when there is a wave to ride, and the wave is going in the other direction in this election.” But with his poor performance on June 5th, Democrats are poised to win this seat. Democrats have never seriously contested this coastal Orange County district, but with Harley Rouda shining a light on the incumbent congressman’s misdeeds, Dana Rohrabacher has never been more vulnerable.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Cook Political Report: CA-48 is a Toss-Up [Cook Political Report, 5/2/18]
OP-ED: “Harley Rouda gives hope to a younger generation of voters concerned about environment and equality” [Daily Pilot, 05/30/18]
HEADLINE: Orange County Primary Turnout Highest in 16 Years [Voice of OC, 06/11/18]
HEADLINE: “In an already tough election year, Dana Rohrabacher is struggling with his own party” [Los Angeles Times, 4/05/18]
“Just 38 percent of likely voters approve of Rohrabacher’s job performance compared to 50 percent who disapprove, including 38 percent who disapprove strongly… A plurality of voters were not happy about Rohrabacher’s stance on health care – 48 percent said his vote in favor of repealing and replacing Obamacare made them less likely to support his re-election” [Sacramento Bee, 2/6/18]
HEADLINE: “Majority of voters oppose more offshore drilling that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher supports” [SoCal Daily, 2/08/18]
HEADLINE: “Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher says it’s OK not to sell homes to gays; loses support of Realtors” [OC Register, 5/24/18]
HEADLINE: “ADL Urges Rep. Rohrabacher to Repudiate Holocaust Denier He Invited to Capitol Hill” [Anti-Defamation League, 10/19/17]
“A majority of voters, 54%, said they would be less likely to reelect their representative if that member of Congress voted to repeal the healthcare law.” [Los Angeles Times, 5/23/18]
HEADLINE: “Mueller Investigation Involves Member Of Congress For The First Time: Report” [The Hill, 11/10/17]
DANA ROHRABACHER: SWAMP MONSTER. HATER.
Swamp Creature Who “Abused His Position to Benefit”
Dana Rohrabacher has been in Congress for 30 years, and all he’s done is profit off taxpayer dollars. In all those years, Rohrabacher has only passed 3 bills into law. During this same time, Rohrabacher voted 21 times to increase his pay, and he’s pocketed more than $4 million in taxpayer-funded salary. He’s even been charging taxpayers $1 thousand per month for a luxury car lease, totaling more than $70,000 throughout his career. An ethics watchdog called out Rohrabacher for using his position to personal gain, saying he “abused his position to benefit” himself.
While Rohrabacher is busy ripping off taxpayers, the district’s needs – affordable housing, better infrastructure, and better jobs – have been left by the wayside. Rohrabacher’s priorities are simply not the district’s.
Allowed Health Care Premiums to Skyrocket in California, Jeopardized Constituents’ Health Care
Dana Rohrabacher repeatedly voted to increase health care premiums – which are expected to increase by nearly 18% in California – in addition to gutting pre-existing condition protections and jeopardizing health insurance for 41,700 people in his district. This, in the face of telling his constituents that Republicans’ health care bill was “no less committed to covering Americans with pre-existing conditions”. Additionally, he voted to impose an age tax on seniors and did nothing to lower the price of prescription drugs.
Now, Dana Rohrabacher and Washington politicians have their sights set on slashing Social Security and Medicare.
Peddles in Hate, Wants DREAMers Deported
Dana Rohrabacher has made no secret of his closed-minded views on immigrants and LGBT Americans. In recent weeks, Rohrabacher has drawn heavy fire for advocating against selling homes to gay people. And in an interview with the New York Times, Rohrabacher told a reporter that he was ‘in good shape politically’ because his constituents were mostly “concerned about illegal immigrants coming into their neighborhood and raping people” — echoing Donald Trump’s widely-panned comments about Mexican immigrants in 2015. No wonder Rohrabacher wants to deport DREAMers.
It might not surprise you that Rohrabacher’s issues with minority groups don’t end there. Last year, he was criticized for his relationship with Chuck Johnson, who has claimed that ‘blacks are intellectually inferior to whites’, ‘racial stereotypes are largely true’, and that Holocaust didn’t happen – Chuck Johnson is a max out donor to Dana Rohrabacher.
THE PATH TO VICTORY
California’s 48th Congressional District is a majority suburban seat comprising Orange County’s coastal cities. This affluent, college-educated district is changing. Traditionally this has been the most Republican seat in Orange County, with the GOP holding a 10 point registration advantage in the district – but that didn’t prevent Hillary Clinton from winning the district by 2 points in 2016. And despite their built-in advantages in the district, Republicans have to cope with a devastating Achilles heel – Dana Rohrabacher himself.
Dana Rohrabacher’s poor showing in the primary – only receiving 30% of the vote – underlines his status as one of the most vulnerable congressional incumbents on the map. After 30 years in Congress, he is facing the first real challenge of his electoral career – and his poor fundraising will do nothing to stem the bleeding political support he has left in the district.
Democrats have a strong candidate in Harley Rouda, whose track record of business success and community service who will appeal to Democrats, Independents, and moderate Republicans. The wide-ranging coalition he built with labor, local elected officials, and grassroots activists was key to winning this closely-fought primary. And Democrats have a CVS-receipt-length list of problematic Rohrabacher statements to fuel ads this fall.
If national Republicans choose to invest, they will be forced to spend money defending a controversial, ineffective, and openly discriminatory incumbent while Harley Rouda is campaigning on his message of effective leadership and change. Of course, Rohrabacher shouldn’t count on support from his Washington Republicans in the general election, especially after Speaker Ryan’s Super PAC revealed they covertly spent hundreds of thousands of dollars propping up his Republican primary challenger (they may have told Politico they spent for both Rohrabacher and Baugh, but that’s not what they told the FEC).