The 48th congressional district pony race

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So we’re starting a new thing here at On the 11th of every month, we’ll take a look at the upcoming election by ranking the candidates on the likeliness of a victory. This will almost certainly changes as time passes, as money changes hands, as endorsements are secured.

But here, on Jan. 11, is how we have it …


• 1. Dana Rohrabacher: This isn’t a fantasy website. We don’t exist to lie, to pump up, to embellish. So, if we’re being honest, Dana remains a huge frontrunner. He’ll have lots of money (he had $600,000 on hand as of late September. By comparison, Harley Rouda had $372k), he’ll have the support of the GOP and, most important, he’ll have incumbency. See—that’s the hardest part to overcome. An opponent can raise money, raise stature. But familiarity—especially in a congressional fight—is huge. And while many of us are hot and heated over this race, the vast majority of people (if we’re being honest) have no idea who Harley Rouda or Laura Oatman are.

• 2. Harley Rouda: It feels like Harley will be the guy. And, no, that doesn’t mean much at this point. But of the 854.7 Democrats running for this thing, Harley is the one who has established a certain air of inevitability. He’s smart, he’s polished, he’s well-spoken, he looks the part. The optics of him alongside weathered, crazy Dana works well.

• 3. Laura Oatman: Man, Laura has run a smart campaign thus far. She overcame some early hiccups to be in what seems to be a pretty strong spot. When this whole thing began, the Democratic Party wanted very little to do with her. This was, for their money, Hans Keirstead’s run to make. Literally, they urged Hans to run and did everything to boost his candidacy. Pardon the old sports writer in me, but it sort of reminds me of the 2012 Washington Redskins, who selected quarterback Robert Griffin III second overall, then used a fourth rounder on another QB, Kirk Cousins. Like Hans, RGIII was all the hype. Then, well, he started to suck. Oatman is Cousins.

That said, she needs to raise more money. Fast.

• 4. Hans Keirstead: It just hasn’t worked. Maybe it’s the Canadian heritage. Maybe it’s the social awkwardness. Not sure. I remember being a kid and once finding a $100 bill by a toilet in New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. When I picked it up, it was just an advertisement disguised as a bill.

• 5. Omar Siddqui: Really nice guy, very polished. But I just don’t think it’s wise to run a guy who literally doesn’t live in the district. All the arguments can be made otherwise (has worked in the 48th forever; has a couch in his office), but none of that treads water when Rohrabacher and his henchmen are hitting you with a slew of geographical slams.

• 6. Paul Martin: Moderate Republican who has very little chance—unless the Democrats screw this up and somehow he slides into the general vs. Dana. Again, this is super unlikely. But one never knows.

• 7. Rachel Payne: So, Rachel just entered the race recently. And she’s certainly qualified. But it’s a little like a horse pulling up to the Kentucky Derby gate two seconds after the start. Can it happen? Sure—if everyone else collapses or is inflicted by universal blindness. But she has a shitload of ground to make up.

• 8. Michael Kotick: Something isn’t clicking. I can’t explain it.

• 9. Scott Baugh: So, if Dana decides not to run, the former assemblyman/Orange County GOP chairman enters immediately. He has nearly $600,000 on hand, he’s a Republican, he seems sane. And, if he enters, he soars to the top of this list.

• 10. Boyd Roberts: Boyd has one path to victory. I don’t know what that path is. But it involves space aliens, a mass abduction and bags of carrots and celery.

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