Issa Most Vulnerable Incumbent in House, Rohrabacher Fifth: Roll Call

Two of the top 10 most vulnerable House incumbents in the country represent Orange County districts, with Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) landing at the top and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach) occupying the No. 5 position, according to Roll Call.

The rankings published Monday are indicative of the changing demographics in Rohrabacher’s 48th and Issa’s 49th congressional districts, although other contributing factors are cited by Roll Call‘s Simone Pathe and Bridget Bowman in “One Year Out: The 10 Most Vulnerable House Incumbents in 2018.”

Issa, whose North San Diego County-based district includes parts of South Orange County, narrowly won re-election last year and his vote for the Republican healthcare bill could be enough to close the gap for a Democrat in November 2018, per the Roll Call piece, which puts Rohrabacher on the vulnerable list for the first time since he was elected to Congress in 1988. Why? Those nagging pro-Russia ties.

Here are the individual write ups on Issa and Rohrabacher:

Clinton carried Issa’s California district by 8 points in 2016. But unlike other Republicans in Clinton districts, Issa barely won a ninth term, winning by half a point against Democrat Doug Applegate. He voted for the GOP health care bill this year, which Democrats will likely highlight throughout the campaign. Applegate, a Marine veteran, is running again. Environmental lawyer Mike Levin and Navy veteran Paul Kerr are also running on the Democratic side. All of these challengers are raising significant money, but still trail Issa (who is extremely wealthy himself) in cash on hand.


The combination of Clinton carrying the California district and headlines linking Rohrabacher to Russia puts his re-election in question. Rohrabacher won a 15th term by 17 points in 2016. But since then, he has been at the center of some news stories raising questions about his pro-Russia views, with one Politico headline dubbing him “Putin’s favorite congressman.” House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy even reportedly joked Rohrabacher was paid by the Russian president. Two of the Democrats vying to take on Rohrabacher, Harley Rouda and Hans Keirstead, have also been raising significant money. Keirstead, a stem cell researcher, is considered a top recruit.

Naturally, Drew Godinich, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, is crowing about the Roll Call analysis.

“From their devastating votes for the healthcare repeal bill to their support for a tax plan that will raise taxes on millions of middle-class families to provide tax breaks to millionaires like Congressman Issa, it’s clear that the chickens are coming home to roost for vulnerable House Republicans,” Godinich says. “The strong bench of Democratic talent in races across California means that Democrats will have the resources to hold these Republicans accountable for their track record of failure next year.”

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