Well … that was a crazy night, no? First it seemed as if Scott Baugh might join Dana Rohrabacher to shut Democrats off the 48th ballot. Then it looked—somewhat convincingly—that Hans Keirstead would be the second candidate, and our party’s standard bearer.
Then, when many were in bed, Harley Rouda surged. At this point (9:37 am), he is the presumptive candidate to take on Dana in the general election. “Presumptive” doesn’t mean definite. But it feels increasingly definite.
Here are my thoughts:
• Thank goodness I’m a moron: I was convinced Dana and Baugh would be the last two standing. I mean, I was r-e-a-l-l-y convinced. It just seemed as if the Democrats were cannibalizing themselves with too many candidates, too much in-fighting, stubbornness, wayward messaging. But then a couple of things happened:
* Baugh was a pretty crap campaigner: He just felt invisible. And the charisma that I worried about never materialized. Never, ever.
* Harley Rouda’s team REALLY upped its late game: This was a pretty palpable thing. You could feel an increasing sense of “If there’s gonna be a Democrat, it’s this guy.” Now, that didn’t mean he’d top Baugh. But as time passed he stole Hans’ momentum.
* Trump. He’s simply unpopular. And while we still live in a Republican stronghold, it’s not (with some exception) a Mississippi-esque Republican stronghold. What I mean is, most Republicans I know in these parts are college educated, bright, astute. They loved Reagan, liked Bush Senior, tolerated Bush Junior. But are they cheering at a president who behaves like a toddler? No.
* There are winners and losers to consider, so …
WINNER: Dana Rohrabacher—Let’s not get cocky. He’s the incumbent and he’s the frontrunner. There was no drama last night for the incumbent. Not even a sliver. So while he’s as vulnerable as ever, this is anything but a sure thing for the Democrats.
LOSER: Omar Siddiqui—There was a time when Omar seemed respectable, decent, fair-minded. Was he going to win this thing? No. That was never a real possibility. But he brought some gravitas to the debate stage, and people appreciated it.
Then, something changed.
Even when it was clear he couldn’t win, he kept pushing and pushing and pushing and pushing. He complained the media wasn’t covering his “surging” campaign fairly. He kept talking about all the Democrats saying he should leave the race because his name and ethnicity (I call bullshit). Then, a few days ago, he did this …
For me, that’s it. Dude, you go on Fox News? Fox News!? And how about naming names? Because you never do. So tell us, exactly, who said these things. Pathetic, embarrassing, wrongheaded. I won’t vote for him—for congress, for dog catcher. Nothing.
WINNER: Laura Oatman—Ran a pretty strong campaign, then realized she couldn’t win and wound up serving as a model of grace and insight. Whereas others (Omar, Rachel Payne) allowed ego to overtake logic, Laura dedicated herself to ousting Dana, not propping herself.
LOSER: Scott Baugh—Has to be hoping Dana loses in the general. Because he’ll be the Republican frontrunner in 2020. But … not a good night.
WINNER: Paul Martin—Distant fourth in Republican field, but such a classy, decent, kind man who truly wants his party to return to the sanity of the Reagan years. And if you’re a person thinking, “Wait, Reagan was sane?”—well, think about where we are in 2018. Paul is just one of the best around. Has been my pleasure getting to know him.
LOSER: Rachel Payne—Never had a shot. Like, never, ever. Yet it wasn’t long ago she was Tweeting excitedly about her name being atop the ballot. Like Omar, I will never support her.
WINNER: Aaron McCall—The Indivisible 48 frontman has done a truly remarkable job keeping his shit together through trying times. An admirable man with a bright future in politics. Or, put different, were I running for something, I’d hire him immediately.
WINNER/LOSER/MYSTERY: Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead—One of these two Democrats is going to be facing Dana in November. And (seriously) whatever happens, y’all need to sit down and work out your shit. I mean that in a huge way. We need Dana out. You’re both smart, talented, reasonable men who share overlapping beliefs on the issues. Come to my house. We’ll barbecue and talk Dodgers.
Let’s win this thing …