As you read this, we have seven people officially running to unseat Dana Rohrabacher in the 2018 congressional election.
This is far too many.
Although a good number of our liberal/Democratic peers and colleagues live in a state of odd denial, unseating Rohrabacher in the 48th Congressional district is a major uphill battle. Can it happen? Certainly. Is it likely to happen? Honestly—no. As we speak, Republicans maintain an 11-percentage point advantage in the district’s voter registration. Although that’s down from 15.5 percent four years ago, it’s still sizable. And Rohrabacher—for his 854,422,453 flaws—remains both well-funded and relatively liked.
Again, this wouldn’t be an easy win were we to offer up a singular opponent.
With seven, we’re making things particularly difficult.
I’ve been following the district closely. I’m also unaffiliated, and work for no candidate. I believe, ultimately, we’re best served by a thinned-down roster of candidates. The more isn’t the merrier, but the messier.
Were I to rank the entrants thus far, on best-to-worst odds of pulling off the upset, it’d go thusly …
• 1. Harley Rouda: Definitely the most organized thus far, and he’s raised a chunky wad of cash. Is conservative enough to pull from Rohrabacher, but liberal enough to maintain the Democratic base. That said, there are a good number of grumblings about his past support of John Kasich, and his YouTube ads (while well done) aren’t being seen by many people. A mere 210 views here, a mere 810 views here.
• 2. Hans Keirstead: He’s a pioneering stem cell and multimillionaire businessman (aka: can fund his own campaign—a huge plus). He also knows more about health care than all the other candidates combined. That said, he A. Was born and raised in Canada; B. Is heavily science oriented in a race that probably won’t be won and lost on said issues; C. Has surprisingly low name recognition for a man who’s been here a long time.
• 3. Laura Oatman: Smart, savvy Laguna Beach-based architect. This is going to sound shallow and dumb, but there’s a weakness here that troubles me: To quote from her website bio—”I had started eating plant-based to regain my health naturally. When I saw my results, I wanted to help others, so I went back to school at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and California College of Ayurveda. I wrote the Amazon bestseller, Whole Earth Diet, and started my second business, Whole Earth Wellness, helping people across the country to help them get well and stay well naturally.”
Now, as a liberal and as a healthy eater, I love this. But—and it’s a big but in the world of perception politics—to win this election, our candidate will have to sell himself/herself to non-liberals; to folks who generally view us as climate-nutty, afraid-to-hurt-any-feelings granola “snowflakes” (a word I hate, for the record). Is it crap? Sure. Does it suck? Absolutely. Is it our regrettable reality in 2018 within a conservative district? Yes. And I’m not entirely sure that Laura’s bio (impressive as it is) flies across the spectrum.
• 4. Omar Siddiqui: The latest entrant has an interesting resume (attorney; son of Pakistani immigrants; Fullerton native) and it’s actually somewhat easy to imagine Rohrabacher uttering xenophobic slurs his way during debates (it’s a Dana speciality, and would probably help Siddiqui). That said, he’s REALLY conservative, and stands out (negatively) as a guy insisting the Democrats need to work with Donald Trump. I’ll give him points for originality, but anyone in favor of/sympathetic toward the 45th president is likely voting for Rohrabacher.
• 5. Tony Zardakes: He’s an American Airlines pilot and a former marine. Those make him very interesting. But (and, again, this probably sounds overly simplistic) his website is a WiX site, which one creates for free with a simple template. There’s a nonsensical photo gallery, including one image of Tony holding what appears to be a rifle and a dead duck. I’m not trying to be a jerk—but it just feels like a Class A ballplayer trying to break into the Majors.
• 6. Brandon Reiser: He’s actually running as a Libertarian, but his positions lean hard liberal. I just don’t see the traction here, and it’s not merely the 102 Twitter followers. If you’re going to make a dent as a third party candidate, you have to somehow leap off the page. I’m not sure he does.
• 7. Boyd Roberts: Your crazy uncle comes over for Christmas and says, “Guess what! I’m dating Halle Berry!” Everyone nods and returns to their lamb and potatoes.