Dana Rohrabacher, Called ‘Putin’s Favorite Congressman,’ Loses Re-Election Bid

Longtime Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) wears a 'Make Surfing Great Again' hat
David McNew / Getty Images

The election battle between Republican California Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and his Democratic opponent Harley Rouda was a highly-anticipated battle and the polling ahead of Election Day signaled that it could be a tight race. Rohrabacher, referred to by many as “Putin’s favorite congressman,” was trying to maintain the seat he’s held for three decades. Once all of the votes were counted, however, he came up just short.

As the Los Angeles Times details, Dana Rohrabacher was first elected to represent the 48th District of California in 1988. He rarely faced serious challengers in the many elections he’s gone through since first taking over this seat in Congress, but many people felt that his 2018 challenger Harley Rouda might be able to change that.

Rohrabacher has generated quite a few wild headlines throughout his time as a California congressman. As the Daily Beast details, Dana has had a notoriously friendly relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. At one point, the FBI considered him a likely target to be recruited by the Russians for intelligence operatives.

The California congressman was also specifically named in a conversation between Republicans Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy that leaked and generated a lot of headlines a while back. The Washington Post noted that shortly before Donald Trump snagged the Republican nomination, McCarthy said that he thought Putin paid two people: Rohrabacher and Trump.

As this 2018 election heated up, Rohrabacher lost an endorsement from a Realtors group for saying that he thought it should be okay for homeowners to refuse to sell their homes to gay people, details CNN. The Republican has been a dedicated supporter of Trump and ultimately, that prompted his opponent to get serious about trying to unseat him.

Harley Rouda is a former Republican and real-estate executive who ran as a political moderate, shares NBC Los Angeles. Rouda told potential voters that he wanted to protect Medicare, Social Security, and health care coverage, and he went into Tuesday’s election with a slight lead over Rohrabacher in the polling.

The vote tallies were tight throughout the night, and it wasn’t until early Wednesday morning that the race was called in Rouda’s favor. With 100 percent of the precincts reporting, via the New York Times, Rouda earned 50.7 percent of the votes with a total of 91,750 versus 49.3 percent and 89,068 votes for Rohrabacher.

The House will look significantly different in 2019 thanks to the shift to the Democrats with these midterms. There were a lot of fierce battles that played out Tuesday night, and people across the country kept a close eye on this fight between Dana Rohrabacher and Harley Rouda. Rohrabacher’s loss is generating a lot of headlines Wednesday morning and a fair number of people are stunned to see that Rouda pulled out the win.