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48th District: Rep. Dana Rohrabacher and Harley Rouda

Voters in California’s 48th Congressional District, in coastal Orange County, are most concerned with the economy, healthcare, gun laws and immigration, according to a recent poll by the UC Berkeley Institute of Governmental Studies.

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The race between incumbent Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher of Costa Mesa and Democratic challenger Harley Rouda is tight; two polls released recently have the candidates tied.

Republicans have a 10-point voter registration advantage, but the district voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election — one of seven GOP-led districts in the state that went for the Democratic presidential nominee.

Dana Rohrabacher
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher addresses supporters at Rohrabacher Campaign Headquarters, on June 5 in Costa Mesa, Calif.
Harley Rouda
Democratic congressional candidate Harley Rouda speaks at a 2018 mid-term elections rally on October 4 in Fullerton, California.
Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), left, and Democratic challenger Harley Rouda. (Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times; Mario Tama / Getty Images)

Outside of policy, there is one issue that could potentially impact the result: Russia. Rohrabacher, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats, has been dogged by accusations of overly friendly ties to pro-Russia lobbyists. Some 44% of likely voters said Rohrabacher’s connections with Russia made them less likely to support the incumbent, and 49% said the ties had no effect on which candidate they would support. Democrats have made Rohrabacher’s friendliness with Russian President Vladimir Putin a key issue, running several ads focusing on the relationship. Rouda, a real estate entrepreneur, said in one TV ad, "...it’s time for a leader who represents us, not Russia.”

Russia Investigation

  • Rohrabacher said in July that the Russians “didn’t hack” Democratic Party emails and feed them to WikiLeaks, but that it was “an inside job.” Days later, 12 Russian intelligence operatives were indicted in the hacking.
  • “The bottom line is what we have is this massive PR campaign and [Atty. Gen.] Jeff Sessions is going along with it, with [special counsel Robert S.] Mueller and these people who planned it the day that this president was elected. They planned to undermine his assumption of authority. … The fact is, if he disagrees with what the president wants him to do, he should resign.”
    Dana Rohrabacher, on Fox Business
  • "It’s an utterly radical, un-American idea to attack the Attorney General because he is resisting efforts to pervert the Department of Justice’s truth-seeking mission with the worst kind of craven, partisan politics. The truth — that Dana can’t or won’t comprehend — is that justice in America and the enforcement of our nation’s laws are not based on a loyalty test. That’s the way things work in dictatorships, not in the greatest democracy the world has ever known.”
    Harley Rouda, to The Times
Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown in October.
Russian President Vladimir Putin is shown in October. (Michael Klimentyev / Sputnik)

Taxes and Federal Spending

Rohrabacher

  • Was one of 12 House Republicans who voted against the final version of the 2017 Republican tax bill.
  • “The current tax bill, by purporting to count in our 'income' the money we are forced to pay to governments for state and local taxes, is double taxation. It is anti-growth. And it is unfair to already over-taxed families living on the edge," Rohrabacher wrote in the Orange County Register.

Rouda

  • Opposes balancing the national debt by cutting Social Security or Medicare; “Social Security is an earned benefit. Medicare saves lives and should be expanded. Age tax for older Americans is unacceptable. Balancing the budget off the backs of Senior Citizens is a travesty," he wrote on Facebook.
  • “The GOP will use the huge debt burden they are deliberately creating as an excuse to cut Medicare & educational opportunities. The GOP will use any means necessary to distract from this sham of a Bill," Rouda tweeted about the 2017 tax bill.

Healthcare

Rohrabacher

  • Says in a recent ad that he wants to protect healthcare for people with preexisting conditions. However, he voted for the Republican American Health Care Act, a repeal of Obamacare that a Congressional Budget Office report said would undermine coverage for such people.
  • Rohrabacher's constituent calls were overwhelmingly opposed to the Republican plan, spokesman Ken Grubbs told the Press-Enterprise, estimating it was “2,000 against, five in favor ... But we recognize such tallies are strongly influenced by mobilized campaigns and are therefore unreliable."

Rouda

  • Rouda says he is in favor of offering people the option of joining Medicare. He said he also wants to give Medicare "the right to negotiate lower drug prices against Big Pharma and stop ripping off our senior citizens," according to his campaign website.

Gun Control

Rohrabacher

  • Holds an "A" rating from the National Rifle Assn. and an endorsement from the NRA's Political Victory Fund.
  • Recently fell victim to a prank by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen, in which he appeared to endorse a proposal to arm kindergartners for self-defense purposes.

Rouda

  • Supports mandatory background checks for all gun buyers, including online, at gun shows and for 3-D-printed guns.
  • Supports a ban on assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
  • Wants to prohibit violent criminals, the mentally ill and all people convicted of domestic abuse from purchasing guns, and to close gaps such as the "boyfriend loophole," that allow some dating partners convicted of domestic abuse to fall outside the prohibitions.
Illegally possessed firearms seized by authorities are displayed in Los Angeles.
Illegally possessed firearms seized by authorities are displayed in Los Angeles. (Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

Immigration

Rohrabacher

Rouda

  • Has indicated he'd support bipartisan immigration reform, such as the 2013 bill co-sponsored by the bipartisan group of senators known as the Gang of Eight, and wants a pathway to citizenship for participants in the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
  • “The women and men of [Immigration and Customs Enforcement] need to get back to their actual, all-important jobs — protecting our national security and not taking part in a policy that rips children away from their parents at the border,” he told the Mercury News.
  • Spoke out against family separations at the border, saying on Twitter: "To disregard the human factor and the long term effects these conditions will have on our children is a level of cruelty no one should accept."

Climate Change

  • “I have no doubt that there are these climate cycles and we go through them, and it's only been until recently that the politicians have tried to claim that we have to control people's behavior in order to control those climate cycles. And so I disagree with the theory that CO2, done by mankind, is a major cause for climate change.”
    Rohrabacher, on radio station KPCC
  • Criticizes Republican leaders who deny climate change is human-driven and a threat. Opposes oil drilling off California's coast and calls for a focus on clean energy.
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