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Putin’s Favorite Congressman, Dana Rohrabacher, on the Verge of Ouster in California

Democrat Harley Rouda may pull off a stunning upset against the 30-year Republican incumbent

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa, addresses members of the media and supporters waiting for elections results at the Skosh Monahan's Irish Pub in Costa Mesa, Calif., . Rohrabacher's opponent is Democrat Harley Rouda in Orange County's 48th DistrictElection 2018 House Rohrabacher California, Costa Mesa, USA - 06 Nov 2018

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher addresses members of the media and supporters waiting for elections results at the Skosh Monahan's Irish Pub in Costa Mesa, California.

Damian Dovarganes/AP/REX Shutterstock

Ex-Republican Harley Rouda is close to claiming victory as a Democratic House candidate in Orange County. Rouda currently leads in the contest for California’s 48th District by 2,000 votes; if his lead holds, the real estate magnate will have successfully dislodged Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) after 30 years in Congress.

A relic of the Reagan White House and staunch supporter of President Trump’s immigration policies, Rohrabacher has earned a reputation as “Putin’s favorite congressman” for his consistent opposition to Russian sanctions and calls for closer ties with the country. The congressman’s affinity for the former Soviet Union came under increased scrutiny after Russian interference in the 2016 election — and with good reason.

As Rolling Stone reported in August, the FBI was investigating a series of cyberattacks on another Democrat candidate who sought to challenge Rohrabacher. The attack, believed to have originated in Russia, targeted Rouda’s primary election rival.

Democrats were determined to reclaim the district, one of only a handful of Republican-held seats in California, donating almost $7 million to Rouda’s bid — more than triple Rohrabacher’s haul. The congressman blamed “billionaires coming from outside,” for his poor showing, telling supporters on Tuesday night: “We’ve taken on Goliath. We’ve taken on billionaires.”

Many of California’s House races — including CA-48, one of 14 seats Republicans were fighting to hold on to — remained too close to call Wednesday morning. Democrats appeared poised to claim CA-49, the seat currently occupied by retiring Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and as well as CA-25, currently help by Steve Knight (R-CA).

This post will be updated as more details emerge.

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