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.

Can a man named Omar Siddiqui win the 48th?

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So yesterday morning this Facebook exchange took place between a voter and Luis Aleman, the campaign manager for Omar Siddiqui. It’s heated and rough and utterly fascinating. Here, take a gander …

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Now, I actually get Luis’ anger. Truly, I do. So much of life is bullshit, and so much of political life is extra bullshit. I mean, hell, we (the electorate) make some truly dumb and uninformed decisions based upon surface nonsense that matters nary an iota to how a man or woman will behave once in elected office. Just look at Dana Rohrabacher, a guy who has spent decades running on his credentials as a pot-smoking surfer dude. Does that identity impact his congressional behavior? Certainly not. But it somehow works, because people relate and, therefore, pull the lever and select Crazy D as their mouthpiece.

I digress.

As sucky and unfortunate as this is, the name “Omar Siddiqui” is a burden in California’s 48th congressional district—land of conservative whites who will need to be convinced to vote for a Democrat. Does that mean Omar isn’t qualified? Certainly not. Does that mean Omar shouldn’t have run? Certainly not. But does it make the above person “racist” (Luis’ words) for pointing out the difficulties Omar is having/will likely have based on name? Of course not.

Truth be told, Luis is doing what Luis feels a campaign manager needs to do. He is also, however, behaving (and ranting) like an infant. At this point, Omar Siddiqui can’t win this election. He just can’t. His debate performances have been largely forgettable, his campaign has been overshadowed by those of Hans and Harley and, to a degree, Laura Oatman (I say “to a degree” because Laura dropped out a few days ago). Hell, he doesn’t even live in the district. Were all things equal, no one would be calling for Omar to leave the race. But they’re not, and right now Democrats are running the risk of handing the general election to Scott Baugh and Dana Rohrabacher.

Again, I get the frustration. Really, I do.

But life is crap.

And politics are even crappier.

It’s Scott Baugh time! (eh, no)

In case you missed this (and, based upon the 183 total views—you missed this), Scott Baugh has launched his first campaign ad.

And, well … it sucks.

I don’t mean that in any partisan way, to be clear. Were Harley or Hans or Omar to have introduced this as their advertisement, I’d be equally blunt in regard to its staggering suckiness.

The spot actually begins with one of the dumbest lines ever—”We need more from our representatives in Washington! We need Scott Baugh!” Why dumb? Because, yes, an argument can be made that we need change in Washington. That we need accountability in Washington. That we need strength in Washington. But do we need, literally, Scott Baugh? Like, are we screwed without him?

Truth be told, we don’t need anyone in particular. The graveyards are filled with irreplaceable men (that’s Charles de Gaulle, not Jeff Pearlman). But the political world seems to convince folks that they’re the one. It’s not about change. It’s about their ability to force change.

And it’s silliness.

What follows is a listing of Baugh’s generalized achievements, as music plays in the background and he’s shown walking around, making that concerned/I’m farting face he does quite well. Look, he’s with a family! Look, he’s strolling down a hallway with a young woman! Look, he’s outdoors.

There are three things I enjoyed most.

A. He’s doodling on a notepad. Clearly doodling. And, from afar, the page is only, oh, 1/4 filled. But zooming in, he’s suddenly got tons of notes. Why? Because he’s a busy man with busy plans! Scott Baugh, baby! Scott Baugh!

B. The desk is clear, except for a pair of Sharpies. Now, in my world as a sports writer, Sharpie’s are big when it comes to signing autographs. On baseballs. On footballs. But here, of course, Scott Baugh needs his red and black Sharpies to sign bills of great importance. Only, well, there are no bills of great importance. Because he’s not even a congressman. He’s an aspiring congressman. So maybe he just wants a Mike Trout autograph in two colors. Hard to say.

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C. Nothing is accidental in politics.

Truly, nothing.

And if you look closely. Scott Baugh is wearing a pullover from Pacifica Christian.

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Now, maybe Baugh’s kids go to Pacifica Christian. Maybe he was walking around the house, a few hours before ad shoot day, and it was chilly. Maybe. In all likelihood, however, this is subtle messaging. I’m one of you. I’m with you. They’re over there. But I’m with you.


One final thought.

The name not mentioned here: Dana Rohrabacher.

And that’s absolutely deliberate.

At this moment, the Republican Party is furious with Baugh, because he’s running against an incumbent of the same party. So, right now, what Baugh needs is to walk the very tricky path of getting on the general election ballot without pissing off members of his party.

So expect lots of “Change in Washington” and very little references to Dana.

Interesting stuff.


On Laura Oatman

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From the beginning of this race, no candidate has conducted herself/himself with the grace and decency of Laura Oatman.

Today, that continued with this …

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I want to stress the importance of what Laura has done. Actually, scratch that. I want to stress the decency. Like others in this race, Laura could have stayed and stayed and stayed and stayed. But she realized, at some point, that A. The myriad candidates are killing Democratic chances; B. She wasn’t going to win.

So instead of lurching forward, hoping for a miracle or lathering in the ego wash that is electoral politics, Laura stepped aside.

It couldn’t have been easy.

It couldn’t have been fun.

But it’s righteous.


One Tweet that says everything you need to know about this election

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Hey, thanks Democrats—for making my re-election efforts so much easier.

A couple of minutes ago I logged onto Twitter.

I checked out news on March Madness.

I checked out information on Donald Trump ruining America.

I checked out spring training and the Jets-Colts trade and some guy who really likes ice cream.

And then, to my great chagrin, I arrived at this …

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Seriously, I feel like screaming. Or, if I had much hair, pulling my hair out. Instead, I’ll just note that this Tweet, from Rachel Payne, absolutely infuriates me on 800 different levels. With good reason.

Payne, for those who don’t know, is one of our Democratic candidates for the 48th congressional district. This is her website, and while I don’t know Rachel personally, I have no reason (truly, no reason) to suspect anything but pure and decent motives. She’s a longtime volunteer to different causes, which means she cares and has empathy and … and … and …

Rachel Payne ain’t winning this election.

Like, it’s not happening. It can’t happen. It won’t happen. She’s Coppin State in the ongoing NCAA Tournament (Coppin State didn’t qualify for the ongoing NCAA Tournament). She’s Young MC in a rap-off against Tupac, Nas, Drake and Biggie. And I take no pleasure in writing this sort of thing because—again—I’m certain Rachel has good intentions. What she doesn’t have, however, are these things:

(Unless she’s sitting on a secret treasure that has yet to be reported) The money to match Dana Rohrabacher and Scott Baugh—not to mention Harley Rouda, Hans Keirstead, Omar Siddiqui, Michael Kotick or Laura Oatman. Here, this is from a Feb. 1 Daily Press article headlined, DANA ROHRABACHER’S CHALLENGERS RAISED MORE MONEY THAN HE DID FOR THE SECOND QUARTER IN A ROW.

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Name recognition (She entered the race way too late).

The support of the Democratic Party (which Hans—for good or bad—does have).

So … why run? Why stay in the race? Why do this?

I’m taking my overflowing frustrations out on Rachel, and perhaps somewhat unfairly. But there are Democrats who (factually) are no longer viable. And that’d be fine and dandy were we experiencing a traditional primary. But, alas, we’re not. Come June, two candidates will be selected for the November ballot—and right now, it’s, oh, 60/40 that those two are Baugh and Dana. Why? First, because we’re still a Republican-dominant region. Second, because the party screwed up and threw its weight behind Hans’ severely flawed (and uninspired) campaign. Third, because no one was willing to step aside (aka: Predictable-yet-sad candidate-wide egomaniacal selfishness).

Not all that long ago, every man and women in the race said (in one form or another) that this wasn’t about personal triumph, but ousting Dana Rohrabacher. Hell, I believed them. Yet here we are, a stone’s throw from the vote, and Rachel Payne is bragging about having her name atop the ballot—where she will, almost certainly, take away some votes from the leading Democratic hope.

I see nothing virtuous in this.

I see, simply, selfishness.

PS: And I don’t want to hear the ol’ tried-and-true “Some people insist I don’t belong in this race. Well, to them I say …” Bullshit. This isn’t about that. Every Democratic candidate is better than Dana Rohrabacher on his best day. But if we’re being honest, (politically speaking) there’s nothing overly unique about Harley. Or Hans. Or Laura. Or Rachel. Any of the Dems. They’re all good people, they’re all liberal enough, they all will represent us well. Right now, we just need to win. Period.

Kind of a bombshell

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In case you missed this, earlier today the Los Angeles Times reported that three major Orange County congressional Democrats are breaking with the state party and endorsing Harley Rouda over Hans Keirstead (and others).

This, from the Times

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I’m not sure of the motives of Correa, Lowenthal and Sanchez. Maybe they love Harley. Maybe they loathe Hans. Maybe there were some long-ago agreements that are now being adhered to.

Whatever the case, well, it’s wise.

As this website has repeatedly said, Hans is a brutally poor candidate; one thrust upon the 48th by a tone-deaf party that long ago settled upon his election bid. He has repeatedly underperformed in debates; has repeatedly bored the masses with dry statements and (on occasion) exaggerated truths.

That doesn’t mean Crazy Dana is endorsing a candidate. We’re not.

We just know a bad one when we see it.

So, apparently, do a threesome of congressional folk.

Why not vote … for me? (a guest post from Paul Martin)

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Paul Martin is a Republican running a long shot race to replace Dana Rohrabacher as our congressman. He wrote me an interesting e-mail the other day. I asked if he’d be OK with my printing it here.

He agreed.

Hi Jeff …

I’ve been reading your comments about the race. I don’t gloat in the predicament the Democrats find themselves in. As I told you when we met a few months ago, I’d rather see one of the Democrats than Dana.

He has no business representing our nation.

But I agree with you: A Democrat can’t win unless a bunch of candidates drop out. And that’s clearly not going to happen.

I believe a vote for one of the Democrats is a vote for Robrabacher or Baugh.

Here’s why.

The 2016 primary (a Presidential primary which is always has a larger turnout) had 71,000 Democrats and 93,000 Republicans voting, respectfully. So let us assume 85,000 Democrats will vote in the June primary. (I’ve run this number by three well respected national consultants/polling experts, and all three, based on history and recent national turnout, think the number is too high.)

In any case, divide the 85,000 votes by the 7 viable Democrat candidates, perhaps giving one frontrunner 30%, which would be quite a feat. That candidate would get 25,500 votes. I realize that any of those Democrat candidates or supporters reading this firmly believe they/their candidate will be the exception and get 40% or higher. Of course, this is part of the reason none of them will get out. Or let’s give two of the candidates 35%. Each would receive 29,750 votes.

The Republicans will have around 100,000 voting in June. You have an incumbent and a OC GOP insider. Both with money. Both with expertise. Both incredibly connected. Then there a few other far right-wing candidates.

I imagine something like this. Baugh gets 35,000 votes, Dana gets 40,000. Or vice versa. I know you’ve done the math.

Then you have me.

The centrist candidate called a “liberal” every day of the week by right-wingers who read my tweets and blog.

The candidate who was encouraged last summer by a former Obama senior staffer to enter this race because, as he said, it’s a moderate Republican district and I’d have a unique voice versus Rohrabacher or someone who shares most of that far-right pro-Trump ideology.

Given the math above, I think the Democrats might consider asking themselves one of those “lesser of evils” questions. Namely, “Who would you rather have as your Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, Scott Baugh, or Paul Martin?

Hey, I get how disgusted Democrats are with the GOP. Trust me, I’m lambasted daily for being “one of them” You should see my Twitter feed, just today.

But I’m not one of them.

So what am I then? When voters ask, I sometimes answer by asking them to google the words “Liberal Republican Nelson Rockefeller.”

But I usually tell them that no Democrat in this race has fought as hard for the social issues they care so much about.

I ask them to take a closer look at my background:

• I’ve devoted most of my professional/executive life to non-profit organizations ranging from the March of Dimes to homelessness prevention agencies, to working with at-risk teens, well before I dreamed of running for public office.

• Since 2015, I’ve written a blog, paulosophia.com, where I have castigated the racist, misogynist, and xenophobic speech and policies of Trump and the GOP. Just one example is my post Making America White Again which was in response to racist rhetoric coming from Trump, and bigotry I saw in our local community. I also reflect on my father’s challenges being a Mexican growing up with segregated schools here in Orange County, and my mother’s challenges as an Italian immigrant.

• In response to Trump’s “Travel Ban” (which I have often referred to as a “Muslim Ban”), I launched a peacebuilding campaign early last year called The Christian Muslim Alliance christianmuslimalliance.com with support from friends including Reza Aslan, Hussam Ayloush, Executive Director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations and other progressive Muslims. During that campaign, I was featured in a number of media channels including this short episode on Trump’s bigotry in UpWorthy.

• I host a podcast, whypartisan.com with my friend and Costa Mesa resident Kristen Howerton. It started as a weekly Facebook live event during the presidential primaries in 2016. We talk about social justice, and the intersection of race, religion, and public policy, in a format that is accessible to all voters. Kristen is a self-proclaimed socialist, and also a well-known mom blogger who writes on racism (largely because of hate she has experienced firsthand because of her two black adopted sons). We agree, often and I am criticized by Republicans for “agreeing with her too much.”

• For years, I have written and spoken about the need for gun control, about wage disparity, and about other issues that groupthink Republicans don’t like to talk about.

I also ask them to take a closer look at my positions, during the campaign:

• I inform them that I speak frequently and strongly about Rohrabacher’s betrayal of country and human rights abuses at campaign events, on social media, and most recently in The Observer, NPR, Forbes Magazine, and The Beat with Ari Melber on MSNBC (forthcoming).

• I share with them that I am working closely with many who are “in the trenches” regarding Russia. For example, this week, I will be in New York City meeting with other activists, media, academics, and other influencers who are intricately involved in working to end the human rights abuses of Putin, via sanctions and other methods.

• I remind them that though I’m a Republican, people like Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action, see my activism and enthusiastically support my voice. (Shannon has helped me in my work and has retweeted me for standing up to the NRA.)

• I ask them to visit the “Conviction” page of my campaign website. These videos are a way for me to share my unfiltered views on guns, DACA, homelessness, etc., oftentimes to the chagrin of people in my own party.

• I tell them that the values I espouse are far bigger than any political party and that I’ve lost friends and family by speaking up for them.

• I try to convince them I have a far louder and effective voice from within the Republican Party. The proof is that Republicans are listening to my message, locally, and nationally.

A few last thoughts.

I’ve told some Democrats recently that while Scott Baugh is clearly not an acceptable choice for them, should he slay the giant, at least we will have someone loyal to the interests of our great nation, as opposed to our greatest foreign adversary.

I can’t count how many lifelong progressives are donating to my campaign, volunteering, etc. It’s humbling. For every one of them, there are countless Independents and moderate Republicans that, like the Obama staffer had said, thrilled to finally have a centrist alternative.

Like you, like the countless local and national pundits who write about how the Democrats are splitting the vote, like local Democrat leaders including Fran Sdao — my Democrat supporters believe the vote will be split, and fear that two Republicans will advance.

So instead of rolling the dice, they are endorsing my campaign.

Here’s a comment I received from a very progressive millennial recently on Facebook:

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Like I said when we first met, I’d rather have one of the Democrats than Dana. He is utterly unacceptable.

But, like many including yourself, the numbers don’t add up.

I include my official Candidate Statement below. Yes, I want to reform the Republican Party. And I’m working to bring that about, even if those crazies on the far right keep calling me a “liberal.”



Paul Martin, Republican

I want to reform the Republican Party. Because for decades, GOP bureaucrats have failed us. They have politicized serious issues that affect all Americans. Today, the GOP has an identity problem. In order to stay relevant, the party must change.

I am a pro-growth strong fiscal conservative who will work for lower taxes and a smaller federal government. President Reagan’s axiom “peace through strength” is my guideline for national security. I will stand-up to Russian president Vladimir Putin and any other enemies of America who attempt to undermine our democracy and freedoms.

But protecting children through common sense gun safety, advocating for a cleaner planet so we can all breathe clean air and enjoy clean water and coastlines, and working to help prevent rising homelessness — these are not “liberal” issues. And though I am a lifelong gun owner, I am willing to confront the NRA — our moral duty is to protect our children. I will also defend the rights of seniors, the underemployed, minorities, the poor, and younger voters.

I have worked as a businessman, philanthropist, Christian pastor, and writer. I have always championed values of personal responsibility, compassion for those in need, and a belief that all share a calling to make our world a better place.

I am an Orange County native and lifelong Republican. I hold a B.A. from UCLA and an M.A. from Biola University. I am happily married to Gina. We live in Costa Mesa with our 5 amazing children, ages 22, 19, 18, 17 and 16.