Dear Democratic Party: Dana Rohrabacher thanks you

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(from left) Rouda, Siddiqui, Kotick, Payne and Oatman stand to ask delegates to vote “no endorsement.” It didn’t work out.

I hate to write this.

God, I fucking hate to write this.

But tonight, it feels like we pretty much threw away the 48th.

If this sounds hyperbolic, it’s not. If this sounds alarmist, it’s not.

For the past year or so, Crazy Dana (aka: me—Jeff Pearlman) has followed this race closely. I’ve blogged about it. I’ve dug into the candidates. I’ve studied the demographics. I’ve analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of Dana Rohrabacher, the longtime incumbent who has never been more vulnerable. I have thought about this election more than I’ve ever thought about any other political endeavor. Why? Because politics is entirely local, and while we—the residents of California’s 48th Congressional District—have little say in the outcome of presidential politics, we have (potentially) tons of say in regards to who represents us in Washington. And that say—that very specific say—gives us an awful lot of power. Because the Republicans are (wisely) scratching and clawing to save themselves from what could be a crushing nationwide November setback. And the 48th is right there for Democrats. It’s a piñata dangling from a string …

I digress.

In case you missed this, earlier tonight at the Democratic state party convention in San Diego, the local party caucus voted to endorse Hans Keirstead, the noted neuroscientist, as its preferred candidate to take on Rohrabacher. Here is how the final tally went …

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Now, on the one hand, this was hardly a surprise. First, last month Keirstead received 65 percent of delegate support in the party’s pre-endorsement conferences (it’s confusing. Read here for a better explanation on these things). Second, as Crazy Dana has reported repeatedly over the past months, the Democratic Party (local and national) determined long ago that Keirstead was its man. First, because he is said to have plenty of money on hand, and could conceivably make up the inevitable financial advantages held by Dana and the GOP. Second, because he seemed to check off all the boxes. Smart—check. Accomplished—check. Relatively telegenic—check. Well spoken—check. Third, because he was an established name in the community. Fourth, because he seemed ready to play the game. Or something like that.

So, again, every candidate I’ve spoken to for this site has acknowledged (in one way or another) that to overcome Keirstead would be to overcome (in a sense) the oft-debilitating death grip of political machinery. I’m pretty sure Bernie Sanders would have said the same thing leading up to the 2016 Democratic Primary.

Anyhow, it’s a truly messed-up system, because after nonstop months of grinding, handshaking, pleading, begging, promising, urging—you (the candidate) are pretty much hostage to the whims of 38 delegates (generally unknown political activists elected at the party level—read here for more) and their leanings. That’s why, before the vote tonight, the five other Democratic candidates in attendance (Michael Kotick, Laura Oatman, Rachel Payne, Harley Rounda and Omar Siddiqui) all stood in unison in front of the room and requested that the 38 delegates support a no-endorsement. Because they knew—in regards to Hans—this was all painfully fishy. There’s a reason he’s the overwhelming choice … but no one who has seen him perform has the slightest idea as to why. I actually reached out to Rouda tonight, and he was still seething over the process. “Every one of the five who stood have something to offer,” he said. “We’ve all worked hard. And for it to come down to this …”

The thought went unfinished, but I’ll take a stab …

... is bullshit.

I can’t disagree. In an earlier post I wrote about those I think can win, and those I think can’t. Topping my list of those who can’t win is—to be blunt—Hans Keirstead. Call me crazy, call me wacko, call me Ron Guidry, but if I’m Dana Rohrabacher, right now I’m thrilled at the prospect of running against a Canadian-born scientist with minimal (to be polite) charisma, a strange voting record and an inability to project empathy. I’m not saying (I need to emphasize this) that Hans isn’t empathetic. Or that he’s even a bad guy. But politics is showbiz, and Keirstead is as wooden a candidate as I’ve seen in some time. It. Just. Doesn’t. Feel. Real. Or. Passionate. Or meaningful. And that matters. Like, really matters.

Anyhow, things got really weird after the vote. There’s an odd-yet-well-known rule whereas one can temporarily table an endorsement of an opponent if he/she can collect 300 signatures from the 1,000-plus delegates in attendance at the convention (geography be damned). So Rouda did what you do in this world—he went after the autographs.

Then, this happened …

What bothers me most, as a Democrat, as a District 48 denizen, as Crazy Dana—is the nastiness of it all. We like to think of Republicans as the bad guys, right? They’re the ones who behave in untoward manners; the ones who fix elections and plot redistricting and restrict minority voting. Yet here—despite myriad debates that have (unambiguously) left people feeling uneasy about Hans; despite Hans placing last in a recent straw poll; despite Rouda raising the most money of the candidates; despite Oatman and Payne and Siddiqui landing key endorsements from different groups—24 people decided (after being wooed and sweet talked, no doubt) that our flattest candidate should be propped up as our biggest hope.

And now, we (the people) are neutered dogs. Can Harley or Laura (the two leading opponents at this point) still pull out a victory? Sure. But with the local party caucus endorsement, Hans Keirstead receives a huge boost. First, he can brag about the endorsement—no small thing. Second, the state party will send out mailings on his behalf. Mailing after mailing after mailing. It’s not merely huge. It’s enormous.

Don’t misread what just happened. Don’t try and be falsely optimistic.

Your voice—my voice—has been ignored by the Democratic Party. And if you’re not asking yourself (even just a little), “Why did I bother?” … well, you’re not human.

It’s infuriating.


The GOP will try and get Dana Rohrabacher out of the race

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Rick Gates of Hell

I’m venturing a guess here, but I’m increasingly convinced the Republican Party will urge/nudge Dana Rohrabacher out of the 2018 election.

It actually shouldn’t be too hard. Rohrabacher is no spring chicken. So he can say he’s tried. He can also say he wants to focus on his children. He can say he wants to surf, smoke joints, eat lots of pizza.

So many options.

But, if I’m the GOP, I don’t let him anywhere near this thing.

Why? Because what was once a Republican stronghold has changed with time, and the election would be a toughie were Dana Rohrabacher just your average incumbent. But he’s not. In case you missed today’s news, Dana was the congressman in the meeting with Rick Gates when he was doing  lobbying work for pro-Russian Ukrainian political figures. It’s yet another tie to Rohrabacher and Russia; an ugly link in a story that refuses to vanish.

So, I encourage to Republican Party to stick with Rohrabacher!

He’s the best!

He’s a winner!

But, ahem, they likely won’t.

What an absolute loser

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This is a tiny bit old, but came across a Feb. 15 piece from the Washington Examiner headlined DANA ROHRABACHER STILL HASN’T TOLD TRUMP HIS ‘EARTH SHATTERING’ RUSSIA NEWS SIX MONTHS LATER.

It’s a gem. Trust me.

Here’s my favorite portion:

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Why favorite? Because a part of Dana Rohrabacher’s re-election effort will involve his relationship with the president. Only, well, there is no relationship. Not if Donald Trump refuses to meet and speak with him.

So, truly, what does he have to run on?

Passed bills? Um, no.

Tough on crime? Um, no.

Availability? Um, no.

The fact that he’s a surfing grandpa-like figure with a bunch o’ Hawaiian shirts? Bingo.

It is what it is.

PS: Also, in case you’re unaware, the Examiner leans hard conservative. If even they’re calling Rohrabacher out, you know he’s got issues.

Coward of the county

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In the aftermath of yet another school shooting, you would think leaders would, well, lead.

Of course, you’d also think this in the aftermath of the previous school shooting.

And the previous school shooting.

And the previous school shooting.

Um … no.

Dana Rohrabacher is our congressman. He’s been our congressman for many moons. He also is the father of three children—all of whom attend (we presume) schools. I, too, have children who attend schools, and in the immediate wake of the Florida shooting, I kept imagining my own son and daughter lying on the floor, gunshots exploding around them. I thought about them living. I thought about them dying. I thought about receiving the news of my slain child, and how that would ruin me and my family forever.

I mean, when something is so raw and tangible, how do you not ponder such scenarios? How do you not feel it?

I bring this up because, as he is wont to do, Rohrabacher marked the Florida nightmare by issuing this statement …

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It is, obviously, the verbiage of cowards; of a man unwilling to ever take a stand on anything of substance; of an absolute spineless and worthless piece of ocean crud, desperate to raise money, keep the far right happy, attend ribbon-cutting ceremonies and prolong his time in office.

In other words, it is vintage Dana Rohrabacher.

So what to do? Easy: We, as Democrats and independents, need to stay on target and keep focused. In recent weeks, there has been an increased level of sniping between Democratic candidate A and B, B and C, C and A. Whispering, rumors, gossip, innuendo. Did you hear what he said? Do you know what she really stands for? It’s some seriously ugly shit—and it does this effort little good.

See, the problem with politics is almost always ego. People begin their runs with good intentions. They like the idea of serving. They want to help their community. But, with money flow and speaking gigs and applause and “we need you” issuances, the id takes over. Suddenly, you have to be the person. You are the only one. You lose humility; you become defensive; you go on the attack.

Right now, that’s happening among Democrats, and it has to stop. Like, it really has to stop. This is about defeating Dana Rohrabacher, not about [FILL IN THE CANDIDATE] achieving personal glory.

More important, this is about changing the country.

This is about shifting back toward righteousness.

This is about courage.

Ice cream

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In case you haven’t noticed, Dana Rohrabacher is failing to notice that he’s in serious trouble.

Right now, his reputation is crap. Democrats loathe him. Republicans are confused by him. He’s best known as the man who (A) Refuses to meet with constituents; (B) Conspires with Russia; (C) Never criticizes his Grand Master, Donald Trump.

These are all fantastic.

Rohrabacher has become our best friend. No matter who the Democrats wind up running in the general election, that man or woman will square off against a diminished office holder who seems to be slipping—fast. Past political instincts are no longer sharp. Loyalty among GOPers has diminished. When he speaks, he seems crazed and off-balance. He takes pictures alongside white nationalists and doesn’t flinch. He hears some of Trump’s bonkers comments and refuses to correct and intervene.

So, truly, let him have his photo opps. Let him eat ice cream, cut ribbons, tie himself to Donald Trump every way possible.

It will not end well for him.

Laura Oatman: “Excite your base, get out the vote, and you will win.”

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Laura Oatman

In response to the previous Crazy Dana entry, Laura Oatman wrote the following words. I want to thank her for taking the time to do so, and for running with passion and integrity.

I am definitely not going to bash you – but I do think you’re wrong.  We have known, for a while now, that we have entered a strange land where the normal rules of politics don’t apply.  We saw it in the 2016 election, we saw it in Alabama, and we will see it in the fall.  As long as I’ve been around, the common wisdom was that Dems would get 40% of the vote, the Republicans 40%, and whoever could field a moderate candidate with appeal to that 20% would win.
And maybe that hasn’t completely disappeared, but it has been superseded by a more powerful rule: excite your base, get out the vote, and you will win.
Trump spent about half of what Clinton spent, but got within 2% of the votes Hillary did – and enough to get him into the White House.  Not without her flaws, HRC was still the most qualified candidate – possibly in American history – and she was extremely moderate by today’s Progressive standards.  So 1) huge war chest  2) smooth and polished candidate 3) moderate positioning.  It didn’t help her, to my great regret.
Then you have Doug Jones, in Alabama.  I was shocked to learn that 91% of GOP voters in that election *still* voted for Roy Moore.  Doug Jones won, in large part, because he got one of the cores of his base – black women – to turn out big.  As I’ve said often before, I will support whoever wins the primary 100%.  But I also believe that of this field, I’m the only candidate who voters on the left can feel excited about, AND the only candidate who can bring the Republicans along, and you need both of these superficially opposing pieces to take out Dana Rohrabacher. I believe (as do many others) that I am the only candidate that can win.
There is an energy running through our country right now, in response to reality that we’ve all woken up to realize we are really in a fight to make sure this amazing country stays on the right course.  That people and the planet need to be treated with care and respect.  That there are people in power who don’t want to do either.  This is a fight.
Much like my candidacy.  We all know who the Democratic Party wants to win.  We all know I’m a small businesswoman, not a multimillionaire who can self-fund in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.   We are running this campaign from my kitchen table right now and I am proud and thankful of the thousands of hours our volunteers have put into this effort.  The volunteer response has been terrific, and it is that same passion for change that *they* want so badly is what I believe translates into a victory in November.
In closing, I’ll address the “health woman” tag.  I’m used to it.  It’s a way to try and knock me down a peg.  I am an Architect.  I received a Masters in Architecture from UCLA, passed all 8 architectural licensing exams on the first try, then went the extra mile to get my LEED-accreditation so I could design environmentally friendly buildings. I have worked on sustainable green projects around the world.  That is my profession.  But we all have hobbies, we all have side interests, and healthy living is mine.  I’m sure the other candidates have their side interests, but Hans is still “the Scientist”, Harley is still “the Realtor”, Omar is still “the Attorney”. Not one mention in your article of my profession, just my hobby. It’d be nice to live in a society where women are judged and labeled like men are, by their occupation, by their accomplishments, by their education, not by their hobbies, not by silly stories told and repeated over and over by men (and women) who feel intimidated by successful women. I would like to be a part of the journey that finally gets us to that place where women are FINALLY treated equally to men. It’s the least we can do for our daughters.

The harsh reality of the upcoming election

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So I’ve been debating and debating and debating whether to write this post. But then I thought—well, everything on has been my sincere efforts to A. Analyze the upcoming election; and B. Help the Democratic Party wrestle control away from the awful ugliness of Dana Rohrabacher.

So … here I go.

In my time living in Southern California, I feel like I’ve gained a very strong understanding of the 48th District. It’s a weird place, right? Huge, not overly diverse, somewhat set in its ways. You have pockets of progressivism, you have large swaths of angry older whites, you have Dana loyalists and Dana detractors. There are areas where it’d make little sense for a Democrat to campaign, and there are areas ripe to be plucked. I’ve traveled all over the place. I’ve dug in. I’ve studied. I’ve read. I really want a Democrat to steal this thing. Like, I really, really want it.

Here’s what I think. And some of this, truly, sucks:

There are candidates among us who won’t win. I’m not talking about the Boyd Roberts of the world—semi-space cadets with well-intentioned-yet odd nonsensical ramblings. No, I mean legitimately good and decent aspiring public servants who bring (unfairly) baggage to this election. And, to be clear, I would be one of those people. I mean, for a nano-second I considered possibly trying to run. But then I looked myself in the mirror. I’m an uber-liberal Jew from New York with a lifetime of bylines and columns to dissect. I would, simply put, be slaughtered by Dana and his henchmen. So would some others.

Among them …

Omar Siddiqui: I met with Omar. Great guy. Terrific guy. Wonderful guy. But … he … doesn’t … live … in … the … district. And while the “I have an office here” argument might work in a primary of likeminded Democrats, it will be (wisely and corrected) filleted by the Republicans in a general election. Also—and this sucks so badly I’m loathe to even broach it—Omar Siddiqui’s name and ethnicity are stumbling blocks. This sucks. Like, this sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks, sucks. Times 100,000. But, being blunt, to win this district Dana Rohrabacher’s opponent is going to absolutely have to convince a shitload of stubborn white conservative men and women that he is (for lack of a better word) one of them. Is it bullshit? Yes. Is it gross? Yes. Does it bother me? Beyond limits. But it’s also true. Politics is sales, and the sales job in 2018 is telling myriad closed-minded, set-in-their-ways white Californians that there’s something better than Dana. That is an extremely hard sell even if everything goes well.

Hans Keirstead: Hans is a bad candidate. It’s all you hear from people; sort of the shock of the election cycle. He entered with the wind to his back, and it’s all been downhill since. The exaggerations. The woodenness. But the one thing that’s really damning (and, again, it sounds silly in isolation) is that Hans was born in Canada. Yes, it’s an absolutely inane reason not to vote for someone. But if I’m Dana Rohrabacher, and I’m on the ropes, and I see this Canadian man with a strange name standing across from me, I’m all over it. I paint him as an outsider who doesn’t share the 48th values. And, sadly, people will buy it. They’ll eat it up. We humans are a sad species. We truly are.

Laura Oatman: I think Laura would make a tremendous congresswoman. I truly do. But the other day I was at an area party, and a couple of longtime Democrats were in attendance. They asked what I thought of the race, and I mentioned the two or three leading candidates—Laura among them. One guy said, snidely, “The health woman?” And I knew exactly what he meant … because it’s occurred to me, too. Again, it’s bullshit and stupid and ugly. But Oatman, the owner of a health/wellness business, Whole Earth Wellness, is an easy target. Republicans love painting Democrats as feel-good, granola-eating wusses. And, regrettably, it works. And works. And works. I think it would work here, too. As much as I hate that. As much as Laura’s resume sparkles.


There’s a truth hanging over this election, and it sucks: We are underdogs. Huge underdogs. If you thought Donald Trump’s approval rating would be at 17 percent right now … well, it’s not. If you thought Dana would decide not to run—well, he is. He’s loaded with money and he boasts the underrated power of incumbency and name recognition. We all know he’s an ineffective idiot. The vast majority of voters, though, just see him as the name on the ballot. The known name.

Worst of all, nobody knows our candidates. I mean, “nobody” is a stretch. But Laura Oatman and Harley Rouda and Hans and Omar and all the others … they’re not household names. Or even known names. People haven’t been paying attention. So as we’ve built the case against Dana Rohrabacher, the folks who need to listen are, largely, at the beach, watching waves. It’s the simple reality.

And here’s the other simple reality: To win this election, we probably need a straightforward white moderate businessman or businesswoman. For the 1,000th time, I hate this. I want to make that clear—I hate this. Hell, I’m a Jewish liberal. My all-time favorite political figures include Barack Obama, Harvey Milk, Joe Biden, John Lewis, Ruth Ann Minner, Doug Wilder. But in order to have a shot to swing the district, everything has to go perfectly. We have to grab Dana’s voters while making him look diminished and inept. It’s about optics as much as it’s about policy.

Feel free to bash me for this. It’s not a post that brings me joy.

But I believe it to be true.

PS: One last thing. I’m noticing, with increased frequency, candidates slinging yang about opponents behind their backs. Hell, I’ve had multiple Democrats complain to me about X, or urge me to write negatively on Y.

My advice: Stop it. Worry about yourselves and your campaigns. Don’t talk shit about fellow Democrats—even if you hate them.

It’s time for a leader to step up

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It’s time for Dana Rohrabacher to step up.

It’s time for our congressman to insist the White House impose new Russia sanctions.

It’s time for our congressman to insist the White House go nowhere near Robert Mueller.

It’s time for our congressman to confirm to the president that, yes, climate change is a serious issue.

It’s time …

Eh, never mind.

He won’t do a thing.

The last word from Dana Rohrabacher on the government shutdown

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Dana: In hiding.

So … Dana Rohrabacher is an ace communicator.

That’s what he says during his select meetings with local supporters. That’s what he says during the robo-townhalls that exist via phone line. That’s what he will surely say as the campaign heats up. He cares and he communicates.

But here’s a quirky little thing. As this is being written, we are in the midst of a government shutdown. And Dana Rohrabacher—our congressman and ace communicator—has said, well, nothing.

I’m actually being literal here. In 2018, the way politicians communicate with their constituents is via social media. It’s what Donald Trump does, it’s what Chuck Schumer does, it’s what Nancy Pelosi and Paul Ryan do. So, naturally, one would expect Dana Rohrabacher to fill us (his constituents) in on the most recent happenings. Hence, tonight I visited his Facebook page to see what’s what.

Here is his most-recent posting …

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Then I went to Twitter. Because, in Dana Rohrabacher’s defense, many public figures see Tweeting as communication method No. 1.

Here’s Dana’s latest Tweet …

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Eh … Instagram?

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Oh! Wait! His website

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In short, this visionary leader … this man of the people … this man who presents himself as a model of strength and determination …

Is in hiding.

Other members of his party—both senators and congressmen—have spoken out repeatedly. Maybe they’re angry, maybe they’re sad, maybe they’re frustrated. But at least they’ve presented themselves and their beliefs.

But our congressman …



Pure coward.

Down, then Up.

Chris Mihm 4

Tonight, I felt particularly dispirited.

The awful hashtag #releasethememo was trending on Twitter—a nod to Hannity and Rush and repeated efforts to delegitimize Robert Mueller’s work. Trump is still around 35 percent—which means his support hasn’t dwindled. The government will likely shut down. The reports of the president having an affair with a porn star seem to matter to no one.


And on.

And on.

And on.

I’ve had many low moments over the past year, but this hit me hard. I mean, fuck—what’s the point of all this if people no longer care about decency? About decorum? About genuine public service? If an unintellectual conman like Donald Trump can walk through our norms, what value are those norms.


But then … something hit me. Namely, this site. I started to make a difference locally. I think Dana Rohrabacher is a travesty. Not merely a poor excuse for a congressman, but a genuinely traitorous hack who has done little-to-nothing for the people he pretends to represent. He’s a spotlight-hogging absentee landlord. A shell of a shell. A lightweight unworthy of the title, “Congressman.”

And maybe, just maybe, is the best I can offer. See, if I can help (And you can help. And he can help. And she can help. And they can help) chip away at Rohrabacher; if this simple website, started by a sportswriter, can inform and alert people, then perhaps there’s importance. If we defeat Rohrabacher, we weaken Trump. We take out one of his enablers. In a way, it’s small potatoes. One man, one district. But stuff adds up. If Rohrabacher loses, and Darrel Issa’s seat goes blue, and a bunch of other seats go blue, we change the course. We right the sea.

We make a difference.

So I’m done being down. I’m done moaning and whining.

We have work to do.

We have a race to win.