The New York Times has called The Cook Political Report “a newsletter that both parties regard as authoritative.” It stands to reason then that both parties are taking seriously Cook’s latest assessment that the 48th Congressional District seat has shifted from “Leans Republican” to “Toss Up.”
The 48th is, of course, held currently by former-presumptive-Representative-for-life Dana Rohrabacher (R-A Place Only Putin’s Proctologist Can See). The next election is November 2018.
Writing on Oct. 13, Cook’s David Wasserman, who analyzes and handicaps U.S. House races, cited the coastal Orange County district’s changing demographics, Rohrabacher’s pro-Russia stands and his “strange interactions with Julian Assange and Internet conspiracy theorist Chuck Johnson” with possibly leading “to self-sabotage in a district President Trump narrowly lost.”
Keep in mind that Wasserman is no partisan hack. Two months before the November 2016 election, he wrote a piece titled, “How Trump Could Win the White House While Losing the Popular Vote.” Leading Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson recently wrote, “Nobody of my generation knows American politics as well as Dave Wasserman.” The Los Angeles Times once called him a “scrupulously nonpartisan” analyst whose “numbers nerd-dom was foretold at a young age.”
Rohrabacher’s district was also just classified as a “Toss Up” by Larry J. Sabato’s Crystal Ball, while Nathan Gonzalez’s Inside Elections moved the 48th from “Lean Republican” to “Tilt Republican.”
While 457 Democrats have filed for the 48th district seat (OK, that’s a slight exaggeration), Wasserman only mentioned two of them in his latest assessment.
“Democrats in DC are thrilled with Hans Keirstead, a stem cell and cancer researcher who founded a biotech company that was sold for $126 million,” Wasserman writes. “Keirstead will talk about helping spinal cord injury victims recover function and the need to cut through FDA red tape. He’s not just new to politics, he’s new to the country: He grew up in Canada, still speaks with a Canadian accent and only became a U.S. citizen in 2008.
“Keirstead is confident he can get past real estate businessman Harley Rouda in the primary and peel off Rohrabacher’s corporate support, but his political skills are still unproven to say the least. Rohrabacher allies insist voters aren’t focused on Russia and appreciate his ‘independent streak,’ but Democrats can also make the case that 30 years in Congress is too long. This is one of Democrats’ best takeover opportunities in California.”
Besides making hay out of the Cook assessment, the Keirstead campaign is boasting about “out-raising” the primary field with a “historic fundraising quarter,” calling the $330,937.24 collected in quarter three of 2017 “the single-quarter fundraising record for a Democrat running in CA-48.”
“Dr. Hans Keirstead has now out-raised the primary field every quarter he has been in the race,” crows Kyle Quinn-Quesada, the candidate’s campaign manager. “Democrats and Republicans agree that Dr. Hans Keirstead is the Democratic primary frontrunner and the strongest candidate to take on Dana Rohrabacher in 2018.”
Crossing our transom at nearly the same time was the Rouda campaign’s announcement that he had raised more than $600,000 since jumping into the race.
“Harley Rouda has excelled by every metric, from raising substantial resources to building up an army of grassroots support, and from earning the coveted backing of organizations that represent working families to assembling a blue-chip team of seasoned campaign operatives,” says Michael McLaughlin, Rouda’s campaign manager.
McLaughlin can also brag about support from the United Steelworkers Los Angeles/Orange Counties Legislative Education Committee, the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry (UA) Local 582, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 12, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 441 and the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 36.
That means 48th District residents won’t only ignore the knocks on their doors by Jehovah’s Witnesses but by union workers as well.
OC Weekly Editor-in-Chief Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the alternative newsweekly’s first calendar editor.