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Congressional races

Protesters crash Orange County GOP fundraiser

Susan Wong, a registered nurse from Orange, and her husband, Jim, who uses a wheelchair, were among scores of protesters on hand to greet Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tulare) and other GOP lawmakers who gathered Saturday at the Orange County Republican Party’s annual Flag Day fundraiser.

“It’s all the deplorables in one basket,” said Wong, 64, outside of Hotel Irvine. “You just can’t stay home. I’m horrified every day. Instead of yelling at the television I’m going to come out and protest.”

Wong said she has seen a sharp decline in the number of uninsured people at the community college clinic where she works, progress she fears will be undone if President Trump is successful in his campaign promise to repeal former President Obama’s signature healthcare law. And she worries about the impact on her husband, a former research biologist with Parkinson’s disease who is on disability.  

“I’m a nurse. I know what happens when people don’t have insurance,” she said.

Many of the protesters attended the event because they are trying to oust their representatives in Congress as well as other GOP members from California.

Nunes, the keynote speaker who is from the Central Valley and leads the House Intelligence Committee, has been at the center of controversy because of his handling of confidential information in the probe of Russian interference in the November election.

He will be introduced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fullerton), one of a handful of Republican members in California who represent districts that voted for Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. These elected officials are major targets for Democrats as they try to retake the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections.

Reps. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa, Mimi Walters of Irvine and Darrell Issa of Vista all have purchased tables at the fundraiser.

Their critics complain about infrequent meetings with their constituents and have been calling for town halls. 

Lulu Hammad, 42, held a poster featuring pictures of all five Republicans reading, “Missing Persons. Have you seen them? If found, please notify their congressional districts.”

The Aliso Viejo resident, a lawyer turned stay-at-home mom, said she is among the protestors who have repeatedly and unsuccessfully tried to meet Rohrabacher at his district office. She also said she tried to ask a question about healthcare on a tele-town hall but was hung up on. The lawmaker is holding a birthday fundraiser with a $250 entry fee next weekend, Hammad said. She feels as if the only way she could reach her congressman is by paying.

“I can’t really get a hold of him,” Hammad said.

Throughout the protest, there was talk of impeaching Trump and Russian interference in the election.

Nettie Bryan, 40, of Cypress held a sign that read, “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” a reference to a joke that House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Bakersfield made behind closed doors among fellow Republicans in 2016.

Bryan said she was most drawn to the event to urge GOP members of Congress to hold town halls to hear from voters.

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