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‘I-Word’ in the Air as Rogan Seeks Reelection to House

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Louie Barrell and Bill Koval are the kind of voters that Rep. James E. Rogan (R-Glendale) needs if he is to win reelection in a predominantly Democratic district after he was one of the leaders of the unsuccessful effort to remove President Clinton from office.

Barrell, a Democrat, did not agree with Rogan’s decision to pursue impeachment, but he said he may vote anyway to give Rogan a third term in Congress, despite a strong challenge by Democratic state Sen. Adam Schiff of Burbank.

“I didn’t think what he did was the right thing on the impeachment, but I still like him for everything else he does and believes,” Barrell said Saturday.

Koval, Barrell’s neighbor, said Rogan’s role in trying to remove the president from office will be a strike against him when Koval decides who to vote for in November for the 27th Congressional District.

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“It’s a minus in my mind,” said Koval, who is undecided. “It [impeachment] was making too big of an issue out of something that wasn’t going to go anywhere anyway.”

Rogan, the ex-prosecutor and political big-game hunter who couldn’t bag his biggest prey, kicked off his race for reelection Saturday, holding a rally for 100 volunteers at his Glendale headquarters before heading out to stump for votes in a district that is 45% Democratic and 37% Republican.

The congressman acknowledged that his role as a House prosecutor in the Clinton impeachment proceedings could hurt him with some voters, but said he has no regrets.

“People may not agree with me on every issue, but they cannot accuse me of political cowardice,” Rogan said.

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Everywhere Rogan went Saturday, impeachment was brought up.

In introducing Rogan at the rally, Pasadena Republican activist Jeff Hammill said his wife had asked him over breakfast: “If Bill Clinton is the one who has done something wrong, why is Jim Rogan in danger of losing his job?”

“This man did nothing wrong,” Hammill said of Rogan, who has no opposition in the Republican primary in March.

Rogan may be the Democrats’ No. 1 target to be unseated this year, but the congressman drew a cheer from the enthusiastic crowd Saturday when he reassured Hammill, “I ain’t losing my job.”

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“The reason I am so emphatic in my support is his brilliant prosecution of our lying, law-breaking traitor in the White House,” said Fred Akins of La Canada Flintridge.

Rogan’s status among many Republicans nationwide has helped him raise nearly $3 million for what may be the most expensive House race this year.

His status as a villain in the eyes of many Democrats has also triggered nationwide financial support for his challenger, Schiff, who has so far raised $1.1 million, double what any other House challenger in the country has raised to this point.

Schiff, the leading Democratic candidate, faces Howell Armand Hargett in the March primary.

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In an interview, Schiff, a former federal prosecutor, never used the word impeach, but criticized Rogan for neglecting his congressional district for the national spotlight.

“The district simply has not been a priority for him. He has been more engaged in national partisan ideological crusades than in issues important to the district.”


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