Rouda Holds Lead, OC Supervisor Challenges

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Orange County Supervisor and 48th Congressional District candidate, Michelle Steel, speaks at a Republican Party of Orange County event at CP Restaurant in Newport Beach on Tuesday.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©️

As of Thursday morning, primary election results show the incumbent in the 48th Congressional District, Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Laguna Beach), is significantly ahead of his Republican challengers.

As of 10 a.m., Rouda led his Republican opponent, Orange County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Michelle Steel, by 7.4 points. Rouda had 44.0% of the vote, while Steel came in at 36.6%.

In a distant third in the race for the 48th, is Republican Brian Burley, who accumulated 12.7% of the votes as of the 10 a.m. update.

The top two vote-getters will be on the November ballot.

At the Republican Party of Orange County event at CP Restaurant in Newport Beach on Tuesday, Steel said officials made calls and walked the district resulting in a big turnout for for Republican candidates.

“This is a Republican district, we have to take it back,” Steel said at the event.

She also commented on her Democrat opponent, claiming he’s misled the constituents. She knows “what’s right and what’s wrong,” and will bring “common sense” back to the office, Steel said.

Local Congressman Harley Rouda (CA-48) chats with supporters after his town hall at Estancia High School in Costa Mesa last year.
— Photo by Sara Hall ©

In 2018, Rouda made history when he unseated Republican Dana Rohrabacher, who represented the 48th district for more than 30 years. In the House of Representatives, Rouda currently serves as a member of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure and the Committee on Oversight and Reform. He chairs the Subcommittee on Environment.

“I am proud to have been the most legislatively productive Freshman Member of Congress and to have reached across the aisle to make huge legislative victories,” Rouda wrote in an email to supporters. “And, with the strongest-ever performance by a Democrat in this district tonight, I feel inspired to continue fighting to deliver bipartisan solutions for coastal Orange County.” Notably, this is the first time a Democrat has garnered more than 30% of the primary vote in this district.

Annie Wright, Vice Chair of the Democratic Party of Orange County wasn’t surprised by the results. Based on conversations with voters, through both calling and canvassing, over the past six months, he has “solid support” across his broad base of constituents.

“The feedback we’ve gotten is that people are highly enthusiastic about supporting Harley Rouda, not only because he’s a Democrat in a county that is leaning more progressive, but because he appeals to a broader constituency on the basis of his work than any of his opponents,” Wright said Tuesday night. “He has been more active on legislation in his first two years in Congress concerning small businesses, the environment, and gun violence than Dana Rohrabacher was in 30 years.”

OC Democratic Party leaders are confident that their candidates in the state Assembly and Senate races will also advance to the general election, Wright added.

“Our community’s trust means everything to me – I’m proud to have earned it,” Rouda wrote in a statement through his campaign.

Rouda was in D.C. on election night and was unavailable for an interview at the time of publication.

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