Capitol Alert

Rouda v. Rohrabacher + A new GOP leader? + Ex-lawmaker pleads guilty in wife’s death

Harley Rouda: ‘If you don’t have a seat at the dinner table, then you’re on the menu

Democratic House candidate Harley Rouda discusses the influence of money in politics and in his bid to unseat Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in the upcoming midterms.
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Democratic House candidate Harley Rouda discusses the influence of money in politics and in his bid to unseat Congressman Dana Rohrabacher in the upcoming midterms.

ROUDA V. ROHRABACHER

On the surface, it’s a calm area with beautiful beaches. But the waters are beginning to look choppy for Republicans. In California’s House District 48, two candidates are competing in one of the most expensive races in the country.

Democratic House candidate Harley Rouda, looking to benefit from a potential blue wave, is presenting himself to voters as a pro-business moderate committed to health care. At his Newport Beach office, he sat down with The Sacramento Bee on Friday for a lengthy conversation about the state of his efforts to unseat Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher.

Outside political groups, including a super PAC affiliated with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, are spending millions as Election Day nears. Though Rouda has refused to accept money from political action committees, he’d raised $5.4 million, as of Oct. 17. Rohrabacher had raised just $2.2 million. Rouda controlled nearly two-thirds of the available cash in the race by Oct. 17.

Rouda said the heavy spending is necessary if he has any shot at winning. “If you don’t have a seat at the dinner table, then you’re on the menu.”

Rohrabacher’s campaign did not respond to repeated interview requests and declined to explain why he wasn’t in attendance.

District Lines: Along the coast of Orange County centered in Huntington Beach.

Bottom Line: Rohrabacher has been in office for nearly three decades and won the district in the 2016 by 17 percentage points. There has been minimal public opinion polling in this race, but what little has come out shows Rouda and Rohrabacher in a statistical tie. The most recent poll from Monmouth University has Rohrabacher up by 2 percentage points, which is well within the margin of error.

Fun Fact: Rohrabacher enjoys surfing, which became California’s official state sport earlier this year.

From Alexei Koseff...

A NEW ASSEMBLY REPUBLICAN LEADER?

Assembly Republican Leader Brian Dahle intends to step down from his leadership post at the start of the next legislative session to run for the California Senate.

The Bieber Republican in recent weeks has been collecting signatures from members of his caucus committing to vote for Assemblywoman Marie Waldron of Escondido as his successor, according to two sources familiar with the plan.

Dahle, meanwhile, is preparing a campaign for an expected special election in the Northern California-based Senate District 1. Current Sen. Ted Gaines, R-El Dorado Hills, is running for a Republican-leaning seat on the Board of Equalization and would have to vacate his Senate seat in January if he wins, as expected.

Assembly Republicans chose Dahle as their leader in August 2017, after conservative activists pushed to oust his predecessor, Assemblyman Chad Mayes of Yucca Valley, for negotiating a deal with Democrats to renew California’s climate change program. Representatives for Dahle and Waldron did not return requests for comment.

EX-LAWMAKER ADMITS TO AIDING WIFE’S SUICIDE

A former California assemblyman has pleaded guilty to aiding his wife’s suicide, as first reported by the Press-Enterprise of Riverside County. The newspaper reported Steve Clute will serve probation for three years and perform 500 hours of community service under an agreement in which he pleaded guilty to felony aiding and abetting the negligent discharge of a firearm. His wife, Pam, taught math at UC Riverside and died by suicide in 2016. Steve Clute, a Riverside Democrat, served in the Assembly from 1982 to 1992.

TWEET OF THE DAY

Assemblyman Travis Allen (@JoinTravisAllen) — “.@TheDemocrats are SPENDING OVER $108 Million in OC against Republicans. IT’S TIME WE FIGHT @NancyPelosi and demand LOWER TAXES, LESS TRAFFIC, LESS CRIME, and STRONG BORDERS. Join @JoinTravisAllen THIS SATURDAY at 12pm for a HUGE BBQ Rally/Get Out the Vote Walk for Republicans!!”

INFLUENCER OF THE DAY

What’s at stake in the upcoming midterms? Influencers have plenty to say.

“There is no single more important election result than the election of Gavin Newsom as Governor. His election will cement a strong hold on the most important Governorship in the nation to an extreme-left wing partisan, who is bought and paid for by the state’s largest public employee unions. While much of the ‘Jerry Brown being the adult in the State Capitol’ talk was overrated – there is no doubt that with the ascension of Newsom, the inmates are now firmly and completely in control of the asylum. For those already surprised as the size and scope of state spending, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

— Jon Fleischman, Publisher of FlashReport

MUST-READ: Audit Motor Voter program independently, California watchdog says

OPINIONATED

The Bee’s Editorial Board thinks California election officials need to do more to make voting accessible for homeless people.

TOONED OUT

Jack Ohman on the White House van

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