Election 2020: Michelle Steel extends lead against Harley Rouda in 48th Congressional District race

Undated handout photos
Michelle Steel, left, chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, and incumbent Harley Rouda are in a close battle for the 48th Congressional District, which covers coastal Orange County.
(Courtesy of Michelle Steel and Harley Rouda)

The race for the 48th Congressional District widened a bit Thursday, as Michelle Steel extended her lead against incumbent Rep. Harley Rouda.

According to Orange County Registrar of Voters’ returns as of 5 p.m. Thursday, Steel, a Republican from Surfside who serves as chairwoman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, had 179,452 votes — 4,774 more than Rouda’s 174,678.

All precincts had reported in, but the registrar had an estimated 175,516 ballots left to count countywide.

“We feel good about where things stand but will continue monitoring as more results come in,” Lance Trover, Steel’s campaign spokesman, said on Wednesday.

Joe Biden was leading Donald Trump, 54% to 44.2%, Wednesday morning, with a margin of more than 125,000 votes, the Orange County registrar of voters office said.

The potential ouster of Rouda, a Democrat from Emerald Bay in Laguna Beach, would return the seat to Republican control. Prior to Rouda’s win in 2018, the seat was held by Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

In a Facebook post made Wednesday morning, Rouda thanked his volunteers.

“This is a campaign run by and for the people, and I could not be prouder of our grassroots movement,” he said. “We are confident that the voters of California’s 48th district put country over party at the ballot box and voted for integrity and decency.”

Senate race continues in Democrats’ favor

Thursday’s returns in the 37th state Senate seat continued showing Dave Min, a UC Irvine law professor, in the lead against incumbent Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa).

As of 5 p.m., Min had 243,289 votes to Moorlach’s 228,295.

Trump’s lawyers will try to find a legal basis for setting aside votes, but most experts think their prospects are dim, even with the Supreme Court dominated by conservatives.

“We want to thank our countless volunteers and supporters for their tireless work on the campaign,” Ash Alvandi, Min’s campaign manager, said on Wednesday. “While we remain cautiously optimistic, we must wait until every vote is counted, which is the bedrock principle of our democracy.”

The potential outcome favoring Min would mark a change for the district, which has been held by Moorlach since 2015.

Check for continuing election coverage and results.

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