The battle for control of the House of Representatives will not be determined in New York City or Los Angeles, but in places like Orange County, California. With three competitive races within less than 30 miles of each other at their closest points, the area will likely help decide whether Rep. Nancy Pelosi returns as Speaker of the House in 2019, or whether Republicans hold on to the reins of power.
Ground zero in the battle is California’s 48th congressional district, home to Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher. Rohrabacher, a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan, has served in Congress for nearly 30 years. His libertarian-style conservatism has meshed well with the district since he was first elected. He is a surfer who brags about “making waves in DC,” has fought against higher taxes and bigger spending and, was one of the first Republicans in Washington to champion legalization of marijuana.
Orange County was a bastion of conservatism. Ronald Reagan launched his political career in Anaheim and by the time Reagan sought the White House, the county provided “The Gipper” the largest vote advantage of any other county in the state.
Today, Democrats sense an opportunity to turn the tide of history. Rather than nominate centrist candidates, however, a crowded primary ensured a race to the left. The Resistance is strong, even behind the “Orange Curtain,” and the only one left standing was Harley Rouda, a liberal’s liberal if there ever was one.
Rouda endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders’ call to make private health insurance illegal. He campaigns for gun control and taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand and has promised to allow illegal aliens access to Medicare if elected. And when it comes to taxpayer support of health care for illegal aliens, Rouda hasn’t budged an inch.
Rouda recently joined the stage with the former mayor of San Francisco and Democratic candidate for governor Gavin Newsom at a rally in Huntington Beach. Newsom has openly said if elected he intends on opening Medicaid to illegal aliens perhaps even by executive fiat.
This issue has become a centerpiece in the campaign. Rohrabacher has argued that opening up Medicare to illegal aliens threatens Medicare with bankruptcy. He has hammered Rouda on the issue and so far, appears to be holding his own. The New York Times recently polled the race finding both candidates with 47% of the vote.
Will the issue of providing critical Medicare dollars to illegals influence seniors, a huge and critical voting bloc in the district, or has Orange County, like much of the Golden State, succumbed to the liberalism that dominates California state politics?
Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: both candidates remain firm in their views and this conflict of ideas will determine not only what Southern California looks like in the future, but the nation as well.