The moron

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In case you missed this, somewhat recently Dana Rohrabacher told realtors that, should they so choose, homeowners should not have to sell their houses to gays.

“Every homeowner should be able to make a decision not to sell their home to someone (if) they don’t agree with their lifestyle,” Rohrabacher told an Orange County Association of Realtors delegation. He later added, “A homeowner should not be required to be in business with someone they think is doing something that is immoral.”

This, of course, means you can deny selling your home to an interracial couple; to a couple that speaks Spanish and English; to a couple that believes in Jesus. On and on and on.

And, to be clear, Dana Rohrabacher doesn’t need to be taken seriously on this particular issue. There is no law waiting to be passed on this one. And were Rohrabacher to suggest one, he’d be laughed out of the state.

However …

What does it say about the man’s depth? About his cognitive abilities? About his reason and decency?

What does it say?

Plenty.

Hans can’t win the general

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Hate to say this. Really hate to say this. And I’m open to being corrected. But can someone explain to me how Hans Keirstead can win the general election?

I’m being serious. No charisma. No mojo. Flat. Boring. Dull. Uninspired speaker. I just don’t see how he’s even a viable candidate at this point, because there’s no pizzazz, no flair, no juice. Truth be told, had the Democratic Party not mistakingly gotten behind him early on (for reasons to stupid to reiterate here), Hans is a non-entity in this election. Again, I know this sounds mean. But it’s just true. Really is. His campaign feels boring and and listless, like a shopping mall closing in five minutes. It also feels mean-spirited. Not in a Rohrabacher way. But nasty. Sorta gross. Dark.

I don’t know that Harley Rouda will win come November. Hell, were I a betting man I’d put my money (sadly) on Dana Rohrabacher being re-elected on the backs of a largely indifferent public and a whole lot of money.

But … Harley is at least inspired and hard-charging and charismatic.

So … we have about three weeks to convince people that this is real; that we have a legitimate candidate who offers the goods; that Dana Rohrabacher the fraud can go down and Scott Baugh, the equal fraud, should never rise.

Amen.

PS: And, to be clear: I’ve been accused of being biased. And at this point I am biased—because I friggin’ want a Democrat to win. That’s my bias. Not one guy over another for personal reasons. One guy over another because I think Hans’ run is a disaster. A listless disaster.

Staggering levels of bullshit

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In case you missed this, a new poll was released this week. Here are the results:

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Now, I’m calling bullshit. And I’m not calling bullshit because the “poll” favors Hans Keirstead, the candidate who doesn’t quite inspire my sensibilities. Hell, if the general election pits Hans against Dana Rohrabacher, I’ll happily (and eagerly) back his bid.

Nope. I’m calling bullshit because, well, it’s bullshit. Let’s count the ways …

• 1. 314 Action Fund, in and of itself, sounds good enough, right? I mean, there are a gazillion places that do polling, most with boring names along the lines of “314 Action Fund.” Upon closer inspection, though, the group—by its own words—was “founded by members of the STEM community, grassroots supporters and political activists who believe in science. We are committed to electing more STEM candidates to office, advocating for evidence-based policy solutions to issues like climate change, and fighting the Trump administration’s attacks on science.”

Hell, here’s an offering from 314’s Twitter feed …

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Oh, and here’s another one …

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So, just to be perfectly clear: 314 Action Fund releases the details of a poll that shows Hans Keirstead kicking ass—without saying (literally, anywhere) that the group endorses Hans’ candidacy!? Seriously?

• 2. The man quoted in the poll is Theodore Bordelon, the impressive-sounding director of communications for 314. And his words are very authoritative. “It’s clear from this poll,” he tells us, “that Harley Rouda is going to be the spoiler candidate.” Wow, that’s pretty rough. I mean, certainly Bordelon is an expert, because he says, “it’s clear.”

So, um, who is Theodore Bordelon? Well, he goes by Ted. He lives in Philadelphia. He has 78 Twitter followers. His profile photo is him with a dog.

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Yeah.

Oh, and here’s what’s even more wacky. Of those 78 Twitter followers, one is (gasp!) Kyle Quinn-Quesada, Hans’ campaign manager. Eight hours ago Kyle Tweeted out the results of the poll, which were then re-Tweeted by Hans.

See, that’s how this shit works in the Donald Trump age. Something exists, and it might be legitimate and it might be illegitimate. If it’s repeated enough times, however, it becomes legit—whether it’s real or sorta kinda fake.

That’s what’s clearly happening here. A poll is commissioned specifically to make the candidate of choice look good. It (amazingly) makes the candidate of choice look good. Then the guy with the dog Tweets it out. Then the mediocre hot-headed campaign manager Tweets it out. Then the candidate Tweets it out. In the blink of an eye, fiction becomes fact, fact becomes fiction and people start saying, “Did you hear about that new poll?”

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• 3. I’m a writer. I’ve been a writer since 1994. I think I have a pretty good understanding of language’s nuances. And this “poll,” well, it ain’t nuanced. Writes someone from 314: “This poll shows voters have serious concerns with Harley Rouda’s past business practices, from profiting from predatory and unscrupulous real estate deals with Wells Fargo to firing an employee with cancer to save health care costs.”

OK, I’m once again calling bullshit. I live in this district. I know this district. And the vaaaaaast majority of people living here (like, 99.9 percent) have no clue about any of this. Maybe they know Harley’s name, and maybe they know Hans’ name. But have they read about the stuff mentioned above? Almost certainly not.

See, what “polls” like these do is this: They call 500 people and someone asks, “If you found out one of the candidates fired an employee with cancer to save health care costs, would you have (a) no reservations; (b) reservations; (c) serious reservations?” And, of course, if it’s put that way, Bob and Susan—electorally uninformed save the info you just provided—would have serious reservations.  Because, hey, who wouldn’t? And that’s exactly what the Hans Campaign is counting upon.

• 4. A whopping 590 people were polled. That’s not a poll—that’s a crowded McDonald’s.

•••

Look, this is politics. It’s dirty and gross, and campaigns will do anything and everything to sway your opinions. No one walks away unscathed—and that includes Hans, Harley, Dana, Scott Baugh. It sucks, but you just can’t run for high-level office and stay entirely clean.

That being said, I’m fed up. From the early stages of this race, we’ve been told—repeatedly—that Hans is the best candidate. The party has pushed him. Nonsense polling has pushed him. But, to steal from the ol’ Chris Rock line (“Vanilla Ice sold 10 million albums—and I don’t know one person who owns a copy”), for a guy who’s so popular and so charismatic and so inevitable … why is it so difficult to track down slews of die-hard Hans backers?

I hear all the voices saying he’s the one.

Only, is someone the one if the one is the only one who thinks he’s the one?

Maybe we can take a poll.

PS: An important point to make: Hans boasts a long, impressive, distinguished history in both science and academia. Were he conducting research, and he found out the data being received had been compiled by an outfit with a vested interest in the results, he would—I 100 percent assure you—never use it. Never, ever, ever. I think those are good standards, and they should apply to politics, too.

PPS: Why is the Costa Mesa Democratic Club Tweeting this out as real? Seriously, can we all stop falling for nonsense? A Google search is a terrible thing to waste.

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The. Angst.

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Over the past few days I’ve been pondering this post.

Pondering.

And pondering.

And pondering.

Now, at long last, here I sit—writing.

Honestly, I’m tired of this. All of this. The smears. The egos. The negativity. I’m tired of Harley’s people, of Hans’ people, of Dana’s people, of Scott’s people. I am tired of candidates refusing to drop out for the good of the 48th. I am tired of bullshit photos of candidates with kids, with dogs, with concerned citizens. I’m tired of that pose—chin in hand, deep in thought.

Mostly, I’m tired of us.

I kicked off this website because I believed—truly believed—Democrats were united in defeating Dana Rohrabacher. That was the sole reason I registered crazydana.com as an entity. To do something good for the district. To make sure an awful politician’s reign of bullshit would cease. To take a stand alongside other concerned citizens. I was inspired, about 1 1/2 years ago, by an Indivisible meeting, so I chose to try something constructive.

Has it worked? No.

Not at all.

Right now, with less than a month until the primary, I see the ashes of what was a v-e-r-y winnable race. Dana Rohrabacher is more vulnerable than ever. Scott Baugh is chipping away at him. If we, as a party, settled upon a single candidate—well, we’d be even money to take the district. That’s no exaggeration: With one Democratic name on the ballot, we’d have an absolute shoo-in to survive June 5.

Instead, we’re a mess. There are Harley people, and there are Hans people. And even though the candidates would hold nearly identical positions in congress, far too many have decided (based upon their leaning) that one man is an angel and the other a devil. It’s absolutely pathetic. And sad. And irrational. And, because of that, the odds are extremely high that no Democrat will wind up running a month from now.

So who do I blame? Everyone. Me, for starting this site. Hans and Harley, for failing to meet up and do what’s best for the party. Omar, for his nonsense. Rachel, for her nonsense. Dana, for being the worst politician I’ve ever seen. Scott Baugh, for being an opportunistic bottom feeder. Voters, for repeatedly falling for garbage talking-point silliness.

God, I used to love politics. As a kid, I’d sit with my dad and talk Carter, talk Ronald, talk Mondale and Bush and Dole and Gore. It was a legitimate passion, because it seemed like running for office could result in real change.

Now, I’m not so sure.

Now, I’m jaded.

Rolling in the mud. For what?

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In case you haven’t been paying attention, no one is safe in the 48th Congressional District race.

By no one—I mean no one.

Dana Rohrabacher is going after Scott Baugh. Scott Baugh is going after Dana Rohrabacher. Harley Rouda is going after Hans Keirstead. Hans Keirstead is going after Harley Rouda.

Don’t believe me? Take a look …

And here’s the thing: It didn’t have to be this way for Democrats. It really didn’t. We could have been rolling along behind a single candidate right now, watching Baugh and Dana claw each other’s eyeballs from the sockets. We could have watched them blow through their funds in an effort to distance themselves from the other Republican. We could have won.

It could have been great.

But, no. No, no, no. Here we are, no better than the Republicans, taking stupid shots as our fellow Democrats. And … for what? So Hans or Harley—two wealthy men with lovely families and great lives—can hold down a position that lasts for two years before the next election? That’s what you’re doing this for? Really?

Wanna know why I started this site? Why I need a Democrat to win? Because I love clear air. Because I love decency and compassion. Because I’m pro-choice, pro-gun control, pro-school funding, pro-environmental protections, anti-Russia interfering with our shit.

I don’t care if its Harley or Hans. I truly don’t.

I want to win this thing for our viewpoints and our happiness.

Shame on us for rolling in the mud.

Shame.

 * After initially writing this post, I was told that the two Democratic videos date back to February. Which is fine as a sorta kinda explanation. My advice to both campaigns: Take them down, ASAP.

On Harley Rouda

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For the longest time, I decided I wouldn’t use this site to endorse a candidate.

Really, I wanted it to be a news/opinion source on the upcoming election, but not a place where people turn to have their minds swayed. I actually hate political outposts that beat people over their heads with DO THIS! DO THIS! DO THIS! DO THIS!

However …

With the primary not all that far away, I figure it’s time to offer a take. So, here I go …

Harley Rouda is our best hope to beat Dana Rohrabacher and Scott Baugh come November.

I don’t say this lightly. And, despite what some might think, it’s not a stance I’ve held this entire time. Harley’s campaign has experienced its ups and downs, and I know several candidates feel his people have—at times—have been somewhat rough and, for lack of a better word, uncouth.

However, as I sit here on April 19, I’m 100 percent certain he’s the best hope to win in November. First, there’s the charisma issue—a huge factor in elections. Harley is extremely charismatic. Charming. Engaging. He’s a great talker and a skilled listener. When you sit down with the man, you feel like he’s interested. Now, is he interested? I have no remote idea. But he seems interested. And that’s a skill.

Second, there’s money. Harley has raised a lot, and he’s put in a lot. Again—that matters. And while he lacks (inexplicably) the official party support that Hans somehow received, he has—to my shock—been able to walk through that setback as if it never happened.

Third, and most important, I honestly believe he’d do an excellent job. Harley’s this moderate Democrat with a lot of savvy and business success. He’s openminded, willing to engage, OK admitting when he’s wrong.

Will he emerge? I don’t know.

Should he?

Yes.

PS: This is not a dismissal of Hans—and shouldn’t be read as such. If he’s the last Democrat standing, he’ll have my 100% backing.

Dana Rohrabacher makes a very cagey move

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In case you missed this, a couple of days ago Dana Rohrabacher, the congressman who never appears anywhere, showed up at a Fountain Valley City Council meeting to back what the Daily Pilot called, “the growing Orange County movement against California’s so-called sanctuary immigration laws.”

In fact, not only did Rohrabacher appear at the meeting—he actually volunteered to pay (or raise) the funds so that the city could file a court brief supporting a federal lawsuit targeting the laws.

“Criminals that come here illegally do not deserve the type of protection that this law says,” Rohrabacher said. “On top of it, the Constitution of the United States has been established to protect ordinary Americans.”

His words were greeted by a standing ovation.

It was political genius—as well as his first real public move for the upcoming election.

If we’re being honest, the heated sanctuary city debate is not a winner for Orange County Democrats. If Hans or Harley wind up on the ballot, they’ll need to woo a fair number of Republicans to their side. And while Rohrabacher’s zaniness and indifference and loyalty to Russia seem like powerful talking points, he will (wisely, if not disgustingly) use sanctuary cities over and over and over again. He’ll gladly remind voters that [Hans/Harley] wants to let criminals across the border. He’ll tell stories about Juan and Carlos raping precious white women. He’ll cite phony crime rates; remind voters that he’s here to protect them, no matter what. He’ll stand alongside an American flag, hold his hand above his hear, tear streaming down his cheek …

And it just might work.

So what should a Democrat do with this one? Honestly—mumble. Babble. Be as vague as possible. Oppose the position without sounding overly confrontational. Because while we liberals know where we stand on the issue, too many Republicans and conservatives know where they stand, too.

It’s not with us.

An Open Letter to the California District 48 Front-runners

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Harley (above) and Hans need to figure this out. ASAP.

Cody Mendoza with a guest post—and an important message.

I write to be blunt and address the largest threat to a California District 48 general ballot consisting of Scott Baugh and Dana Rohrabacher: the Democratic primary vote being split by two middle-aged white candidates.

Hans and Harley, there is no doubt that you are accomplished community leaders who would make fantastic elected officials, but having you both in this race is dangerous, if not lethal, for ousting Dana and flipping the district blue. The historical voting record and ethnic makeup of this district is no secret — almost 60% of the constituents are white middle-class voters, a strong majority identifying as Republican.

We often tout that the 48th District flipped by favoring Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump in the 2016 Presidential Election. This was an encouraging sign of progress, but Dana too was victorious…by over 50,000 votes. It is imperative that we consider the numbers in recognizing how fragile that 2016 flip was and how easily those voters could again reverse leaving Scott and Dana on the ballot in November. Secretary Clinton won the district 47.9% to 46.2%, Dana’s win was 48% to his challenger’s 41%. Partisan Voting Index projections still have the 48th District at +4 for Republicans and the race holding as a tossup favoring a Republican victor.

Ultimately, the margin of those willing to ignore their party affiliation and vote with their conscious is thin. Among likely voters, Republicans still firmly outnumber Democrats. California’s jungle primary system is unique and splitting the white Democrat vote between two candidates that poll similarly well within the bloc leaves the party vulnerable, forcing it to scrounge up votes from smaller, less reliable groups of voters. Plainly and simply, you both remaining in the race is damning for the progress that we have made as Democrats.

There have been many concerned constituents calling for candidates to bow out of this race to avoid a fatal split of Democratic voters. They are right that someone needs to gracefully exit, but the only surefire way to guarantee that a Democrat will be on the ballot in November is for either you, Hans or Harley, to be the one to do so. I call on Hans and Harley to meet and engage in an realistic, issue-oriented discussion on who is the most viable candidate to emerge victorious in November. At end, the less-fit candidate should recognize the importance of not splitting this voting bloc and agree to bow out of the race. The vote cannot be torn any further and the risk of two Republican candidates must not linger any longer. I urge you to do what must be done to continue our progress as a district and a country.

Rachel Payne is killing any future in electoral politics

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So I saw the above Tweet earlier tonight, and I made the decision to write this final post about Rachel Payne, then never mention her name on this site ever again.

Why “never”? A bunch of reasons …

A. She has a 0% chance of winning this race.

B. Her antics are really starting to annoy me.

C. She has destroyed any future for herself in local politics.

I really mean this. Not merely destroyed—destroyed. Killed what was a respected name. Wiped out any chances of doing big things down the road. For myself (Jeff Pearlman) and many others here, Rachel’s selfish approach to this election has been nothing short of a sad, pathetic attempt to … what? Build a name? Massage an ego? Truly, I’m at a loss for words, because it’s the damnedest thing I’ve seen since starting this blog.

Look, I think Hans and Harley need to figure this shit out ASAP. I truly do. And, in a world where decency and logic reigned, they’d sit down together, make peace (as hard as this is) and decide one should be the candidate of choice and—should that person lose this year—the other gets his full blessing in 2020. But, even with that not happening, at least Hans and Harley are both viable candidates with high profiles and deep pockets.

And, look, I think Omar and Michael no longer have chances in hell of winning this race. Both should have dropped out long ago, and not doing so was bullshit. Buuuuuuuuuuut … at least they’ve been at this thing from the start, and also have lots of money and supporters.

Rachel—nothing. There is nothing there. Minimal money, limited support, no buzz. She appears to be running because she’s running. Or, put different, she’s in the race, she likes the attention, she can ride the “I’m the only woman” wave for a while—so why not?

Well, here’s why not: Because you’ve destroyed your reputation.

And those things are hard to get back.

PS: And what was this?

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Omar, Michael, Rachel—why are you doing this?

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I have decided that this post needs to be written, and it needs to be blunt.

Why? Because after watching the March 26 Candidate Town Hall—which featured a bunch of Democrats and Republicans (as well as an independent and a Libertarian) fighting to fill Dana Rohrabacher’s seat—I am furious, and fed up, and exasperated beyond the highest levels of exasperation.

Or, put different, I’m friggin’ pissed off.

So, I’m quite certain, are you.

In case you missed this, 45 minutes into the debate the Democrats were asked a fantastic, needs-to-be-addressed question from Kathleen, a 65-year-old woman from Fountain Valley. Here is what she said …

“I want to address the donkey in the room. Which is most of us don’t go to bed at night worried as much as Trump right now as our own ticket. And I want to thank Laura Oatman. She was brave. She fell on the sword. She had good polling numbers but she didn’t have rocket pole numbers. So my Democratic friends, I don’t want just a one-word answer on this one. How quickly are you going to look at the reality and the polls and join Laura in backing—I’m not going to say who—somebody that can go against … I don’t want a one-word answer. I want to hear courage. I want to hear the understanding of math. And I wanna hear that more than Laura is going to say very soon I’m going to graciously bow out, I’m going to graciously give my time to one other person. Pick the person and let’s get this thing narrowed down. Because we are in a crisis.”

So there is was. Right in front of them. The big question. The one we’ve all discussed. The moderator (who, well, missed this one in a huge way) said, “I think what she’s asking is, if you had to drop out, which candidate you would endorse. We could make this a quick one,”—and was greeted with boos. Why? Because that’s not an even remotely accurate translation of what Kathleen was asking.

No, what she wanted to know was—besides frontrunners Harley Rouda and Hans Kierstead (who provided their replies, too)—why are Michael Kotick, Omar Siddiqui and Rachel Payne still in the race? Why are they continuing to battle when they have no shot? Why are they risking skimming votes away from the leading Democrat in a funky primary system that will likely land two Republicans on the ballot.

Why are they doing this?

For a moment, I was excited to hear the answers. I truly was.

Then Kotick stepped to the mic.

It was bad.

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Kotick: I’m young. So it’s not splitting the vote. It’s just … eh, um, doing something cool! What up?

Before he spoke, a man yelled, “We want to see some leadership from people on the stage!”

[My thoughts are annotated]

Enter: Michael Kotick.

“As passionately as you communicated the question, let me first say that I hear you. The Indivisble groups and the Huddle groups and all the groups are very robust on this narrative. But let me also provide some insight from my perspective, and I can give you the math as well sprinkled on top. Does that work?

“So the first place to start I think is the full recognition that all of us have been engaged on this race for a year. I know I started seeing most of you for the last nine months or so. Here’s the challenge, and this is truth that I am giving you. My team and I have knocked on 10,000 doors in the last three months. Do you know how many people can name a single person on this stage? Less than 10.[*]

[An audience member mumbles]

“First of all, no one’s going to split evenly. That’s not a real thing.”

[An audience member mumbles]

“The other piece of that is vote splitting happens when you have the same type of candidate going after the same type of audience. That’s when vote splitting happens. [**] Here’s what I will tell you and I will speak from my perspective because before I filed I got a poll back that told me an informed did I have a chance in this race. And my hurdle was the same hurdle that we all agreed to back in Seal Beach—which was 20 percent. And I cleared that hurdle so I filed.

“Here’s what different, even with the entrance of Scott Baugh. And I’m going to lay this strategy out. I’m gonna walk through my logic on this. There are three things that are credible about my campaign that are different than anyone else on this stage. No. 1, I have easily two times the amount of appeal with young people across all political affiliations. [***] That matters. That is not a vote-splitting issue. That is a real thing. Because I’ve gotta tell you it doesn’t matter if it’s an R, an I a D or an L—young people are gonna go where they’re inspired. And if they’re not they’re gonna stay home. That is a problem. No. 2, I will also tell you this entire process has everyone fighting over the 20-some odd percent of people in this district who are Democrats. Guess what? There are just as many people in this district who are No Party Preference. You will not split this seat with just Democrats. My candidacy is the only one of anyone on this stage that double digit enters into the NPP space, and I think that’s important. Because you wanna know where Scott Baugh’s gonna get his votes? Right there. So unless we have someone on this stage who can reach in and at the very least offset his gains you’re going to have vote splitting no matter which way you slice it. So if you ask me, this candidacy needs to be in the race to make sure that doesn’t happen and if we push someone through who cannot attract an NPP or a millennial, you can kiss the Flip the District goodbye.” [****]

 * [Jeff note] OK, I’m calling bullshit here. I get the vast majority of Americans aren’t engaged. But you’re telling me 9,990 of 10,000 people knew none of the candidates? Really? Also, if we’re being honest, the 10,000 door line actually is an indictment of the Kotick campaign. This district is enormous, and knocking on doors—while quaint and admirable—is a terrible usage of time. It truly is. And I understand why people might cringe at that take. But ask any seasoned pol, and he/she will tell you the bang-for-buck just isn’t there.

** [Jeff note] This (“The other piece of that is vote splitting happens when you have the same type of candidate going after the same type of audience. That’s when vote splitting happens.”) is the type of line politicians try and sneak into a dialogue; one that makes little-to-no sense under a microscope. In this election, with the top two vote getters reaching the general election ballot, vote splitting will certainly occur within parties. We know Dana will be on the final ballot. It’s a guarantee. So that means all the Democrats and basically fighting Scott Baugh for one spot. To suggest this is about young v old or man v woman is inane. Democrats will look to vote Democratic. If there are a shitload of Dems running, that makes it all much more difficult.

*** [Jeff note] What does this (“I have easily two times the amount of appeal with young people across all political affiliations.”) even mean? Two times the amount? Why not three? Or four? Is there a formula for determining appeal? If so, can I borrow it?

**** [Jeff note] But show me anything that suggests you’re this guy. A-n-y-t-h-i-n-g.

•••

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Siddiqui: Did I mention what Barack Obama said to me? Because he said it to me. Not you. Me.

Hans went, and next up was Omar …

“As an engineer and a lawyer I have to look at facts, I have to look at numbers, I have to look at data. [*] But one thing—despite everything I’ve done. Despite me being a lawyer, engineer, working with the government—I got a very hurtful and painful message yesterday. Which was, ‘Although though you’re the most qualified candidate, although you have met with presidents and you have worked with secretaries of state, one thing you do not have is a regular name. And it said that because of your name alone—Omar Siddiqui—drop out. No one will vote for you. Even though you’re the most qualified and educated candidate, no one in the 48th district will vote for Omar. [**] That hurt. And I lost sleep last night and I responded this morning. At about 4 am. I typed it up. And in my response—in fact, if it’s OK I’m just gonna read it. 

“Thank you for your message, which was received—as you can imagine—with great emotion. It was very hurtful and painful to read. But the more I read it, the more I re-read it, it brought both tears and great inspiration to me. Your name being Martin as well was so symbolic, too. It reminded me of what people told Martin Luther King, Jr. To sit aside. ‘This isn’t your time.’ He responded with a testament of a dream on the steps of the sacred Lincoln Memorial, that one day America would judge not by the color of skin but by the content of one’s character. Your message brought back memories of a conversation I had with President Barack Hussein Obama. [***] While running for president of the United States that he was black; that his middle name was Hussein and that his last name rhymes with Osama. And that his family was Kenyan Muslim. But in the spirit of Martin Luther King he responded with this. ‘When we face down impossible odds, when we’ve been told that we’re not ready or that we shouldn’t try or that we can’t, generations of Americans have responded with a simple creed that sums up the spirit of a people—’Yes we can.’ He put his arm around me that day and told me, ‘Yes, you can.’ Join me on the right side of history. Help us spread the message that in our great country everything and anything is possible. I know in your heart that’s the America we and Martin Luther King dreamed of. Let’s be the change that we seek. Let’s make that a reality. Yes we can. 

“I’m not dropping out because of my name. I’m not dropping out because of who I am. I want you to vote for me because of my character, my background and what I’ve done. Statistics and math—I knocked on thousands of doors, made thousands of phone calls. We are aware of the Fight Back California poll that came out recently. And, yes, that poll indicates that when you vote only on a Laura or a Hans or a Harley, Michael—Omar by itself doesn’t do anything. In fact, it might be scary to some people. Like Hussein Obama. But once you add the description  and you talk about what I’ve done for our nation and the sacrifices that I make, we skyrocket. And if you look at that poll as well, that poll doesn’t take into account the 40 percent of our district that’s people of color. The Vietnamese community in Garden Grove. The Latin community in Costa Mesa and Santa Ana. Take into consideration that I am the candidate who wants to represent everybody.[****]

“We have raised over $600,000, up with the top two candidates, up with the top two candidates. We have spent $70,000 on this campaign—where my competitors, the top two, have spent close to $400,000. We haven’t even started our engines yet. [*****] Our own internal data indicates that with our ground game and our money, we are going to be comfortable where we are. We have to remember two things: As Michael said, our race is going to be dependent on the No Party Preference, the millennials and the people of color who showed up to run and vote. That is what we need to remember as well.

“Finally, quite frankly, what I think is going to hurt the Democrats the most is the attacks on each other. We as Democrats need to support each other and stop attacking each other.”

 * [Jeff note] Show me any numbers that suggest Omar can win. Because I’ve seen none.

 ** [Jeff note] I’m not entirely buying this. I’ve received, oh, 1,000 hate letters throughout my career in journalism. My first came in Nashville, back in 1993. Hell, here it is …

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One thing I can tell you about hate letters—no one ever tries to level it out with compliments. So while I don’t doubt Omar has received venomous mail, I’m sorta skeptical the person also complimented him on being the “most qualified and educated.” Small thing—but I live skeptically.

*** [Jeff note] Among people involved in this election, counting Omar’s Barack Obama name drops has turned into something of a sport. I don’t doubt that Omar met the beloved former president. I don’t doubt that they spoke. But after a while—to cite Michael B. Jordan in “Creed,—you gotta show. Wanna win this election? Wanna rocket to the front? Have Barack Obama endorse you. Campaign for you. Write a letter on your behalf. Something. Because while I covered Major League Baseball for nearly six years at Sports Illustrated, and while I interviewed Derek Jeter multiple times, that doesn’t really mean we’re close. But I can (Derek Jeter) say (Derek Jeter) his name (Derek Jeter) repeatedly, and give a pretty favorable impression of my ties to Derek Jeter. “As Derek Jeter once said to me …”

**** [Jeff note] These sort of lines drive me to drink. Who doesn’t want to be the candidate to represent everybody?

***** [Jeff note] Huge red flag. You haven’t even started your engines yet? What in the world does that mean? If you don’t earn enough votes in June, your campaign is over. Done. Dead. So what in the world could you possibly be waiting for?

•••

With that, the moderator was ready to move on. She swiveled to the next question, but was shouted down by some audience members who wanted to hear from Rachel.

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Payne: I’m not giving up. Even if that means that I have no chance, I refuse to not have a chance.

So, Enter: Rachel Payne.

“When I entered the race I was told that I was too young [*], that I was too inexperienced and that I should wait my turn. [**] These last few days I’ve been getting a lot of similar messages about how I should just back one of the guys [***] and step aside and wait. Which I appreciate where that’s coming from, because where that’s coming from is fear. Because we can’t bear to have Dana Rohrabacher in for one more term. And I am with you on that. I am absolutely with you on that. I met him 10 years ago and I’ve had my eye on him since then. And there isn’t an issue on the planet that we do agree on, that I know of.

“But we can’t be ruled by fear. And when one woman running is one too many, and we have less than 19 percent representation at the highest levels  of government—what type of nation is this? Yes, I have a great ground game, I have a great digital game, [****] I’ve got a lot coming. But when you think about the math, if we were to really coalesce then we all should have all dropped out on March 11 because nonetheless everyone’s name is on the ballot and the math doesn’t really change. We’re all on the ballot. [*****]

“So the best thing that we can do, and this is my promise, is to go out and find those people who don’t have high-propensity voting records, who are under threat, who are concerned about voting. Maybe it’s the NPPs, maybe it’s the millennials, maybe it’s a lot of women. But it’s also people who haven’t regularly voted in midterms who we often overlook. And when I looked at that Monte Carlo simulation … I looked at all the models, the number one thing that became super clear to me in those predictions is that it’s all about getting out the vote, it’s all about increasing registration and let’s go and get so many of those student leaders who are now new voters to join this wave, to turn this district blue and to capture the new votes that are coming from people who haven’t been engaged, whose voices haven’t been heard and who have been ignored. By this representative in particular. So I will make that promise. 

“And I tell you this: If I think this isn’t going to go anywhere, I will drop out. [******] But I’m getting a lot of momentum, a lot of excitement. I’m the only candidate that has national endorsement. Yes, I am the candidate that has national endorsement. [*******] And I will take to heart what I’m hearing. But I will ask the paid supporters to please stop bullying and harassing the people who support me.”

 * [Jeff note] Um, Rachel was born in April of 1975. She’s about to turn 43. I have covered this race for a good while, and while there’ve been myriad criticisms of Rachel, “Too young” isn’t one of them. I’m calling bullshit. As a guy about to turn 46, I can say with remorseful confidence that no one is saying I’m “too young” for anything.

 ** [Jeff note] I’d argue this is an issue plaguing every Democrat running for the 48th. Where’s the political experience? They all jumped in without serving in any sort of lower office. That hurts.

*** [Jeff note] Not-so-subtle word choice. Laura Oatman was polling well and running a tight campaign. She could have certainly made the argument that gender played a role in her struggles. Rachel has simply run a poor campaign. Gender be damned.

**** [Jeff note] You’re following 4,681 people on Twitter, and you only have 3,462 followers. That’s not a great digital game.

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***** [Jeff note] A weird-yet-honest concession that we’ve blown this thing. Rachel’s basically saying, “Look, we all screwed up. So, hey—I’m staying!”

****** [Jeff note] “Rachel, it’s me—your medial temporal lobe. This isn’t going anywhere.”

******* [Jeff note] This is a reference to Emily’s List.

•••

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Pearlman:  Ego, ego, ego …

Here’s the bottom line: Ego trumped good.

That’s really what it comes down to. Whether they admit it or not, Michael, Omar and Rachel know—deep down, perhaps—that they’re not in position to win this election. And, at this point, it’s not because we don’t want a young guy, or a man named Omar, or a woman.

No, we just want Dana Rohrabacher out.

It’s that simple.

Watching that debate made me angry, because no one actually gave a good reason for sticking around. They lacked numbers to back their claims. They lacked the humility to step aside. The just … lacked.

I won’t speak for anyone else—but if Dana Rohrabacher or Scott Baugh win this election, I’m going to remember those who put their own needs over the good of the district and, truly, the country. We have a golden opportunity, sitting immediately before us.

We’re blowing it.