Harley Rouda drops congressional comeback bid in O.C., citing traumatic brain injury from fall

Harley Rouda in front of a mural on a wall
Former U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda said Tuesday he was withdrawing his bid for the 47th Congressional District in Orange County after suffering two brain hemorrhages in a fall.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Former Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda announced Tuesday he will withdraw his bid for a seat in Congress being vacated by Rep. Katie Porter (D-Irvine) after he suffered a traumatic brain injury in a recent fall.

The Laguna Beach resident said in a statement on social media that as a result of a fall last month, he’d sustained two intraparenchymal hemorrhages, which can cause oxygen loss and tissue damage in the brain, and had to be transported to the hospital.

“Thankfully, my doctors say that I have started on the path to a full recovery,” Rouda said. “But on their advice, I am ending my campaign for California’s 47th Congressional District today.


“This is not the outcome I wanted. But my family comes first, and to be there for them, I need to focus fully on my recovery in the months ahead,” he added.

Rouda’s statement came three months after he announced his candidacy in a race that, as of Tuesday, has drawn at least eight other candidates from both sides of the aisle, including state Sen. Dave Min (D-Irvine) and former state Assemblyman Scott Baugh, a Republican.

The seat is being vacated as Porter seeks to replace outgoing U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who announced in February she would not run for reelection next year. Her term ends in January 2025.

Rouda, 61, was elected to Congress in 2018 representing the 48th District but was unseated in 2020 by Rep. Michelle Steel (R-Cypress). Redistricting later shifted him to the 47th District, which includes Irvine, Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa, Newport Beach and Laguna Beach.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Min and his wife, Jane Stoever, sent thoughts and prayers to Rouda’s family.

“Knowing the fighter that Harley is, I have no doubt that he will have a full and speedy recovery,” Min said. “I want to thank Harley for his public service, his decency and patriotism.”

California’s 2024 Senate race has sent ripples down-ballot, as ambitious politicians eye soon-to-be vacant House seats in Los Angeles, Orange County and possibly the Bay Area.

Feb. 3, 2023

Porter offered her own words of consolation in a comment Tuesday on Rouda’s Twitter page.


“Wishing you a thorough recovery and keeping you, Kaira, and your kids in my thoughts,” she wrote. “Get well soon.”

Rouda thanked his supporters and apologized for “not being able to fight on.”

“I love this community and this district,” his Tuesday statement read. “I still believe today that we need moderates in office who will reach across the aisle and actually do the work of governing.

“I believe we need to elect people who don’t care for antics, props and sound bites but care about serving the greater good — people who run for office to actually serve the people who elected them.”


10:52 a.m. April 13, 2023: This story has been updated to include comments from Laguna Beach City Councilman Alex Rounaghi, who endorsed Rouda’s run for office.