Harley Rouda withdraws from battle with fellow Democrat Katie Porter for Orange County seat

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Former Rep. Harley Rouda said on Monday he would not run for a new Orange County congressional seat, averting a potentially deadly party battle with Rep. Katie Porter, a fellow Democrat.

The two were put on a campaign collision course last month after California’s latest congressional limits were set. The two have signaled their intention to run in the 47th Borough, which includes Huntington Beach and other coastal towns once represented by Rouda as well as Porter’s hometown of Irvine.

“While I think I would represent my district best, I am also pragmatic. I have no interest in running against a Democratic incumbent who has decided to run in this district, ”Rouda said in a statement suspending his campaign.

Nationally, Democrats hope to downplay the number of hotly contested primaries on their side this year in order to conserve resources for what will likely be a tough fight against Republicans in the fall. The White House party typically loses seats in the first midterm presidential elections, and Republicans would only need five seats to regain the House majority they lost in 2018.

Rouda and Porter were both elected in this wave of Democratic Congressional victories in 2018. Porter has since become a national political figure. Rouda lost her seat two years later to Republican Rep. Michelle Steel and had spent most of the last year preparing for a rematch.

Steel, meanwhile, said last month it would seek a seat that includes the Orange County towns of Garden Grove and Westminster, which are home to Little Saigon. She will likely face Democrat Jay Chen, a community college administrator and two-time congressional candidate.

Steel’s move paved the way for Scott Baugh, former state lawmaker and Orange County GOP chairman, to start the race against Porter.

GOP Representative Young Kim, who was elected with Steel in 2020, has announced that she will run in a district that includes Yorba Linda and Chino Hills.

Their races will be among the most closely watched in the midterm elections this year.

The wave of campaign announcements during the holiday season was spurred by the completion of the state redistribution process, a once-per-decade political redistribution. The new neighborhoods were created by a panel of independent citizens and are meant to reflect changes in population and community interests.

Most of the action has focused on incumbents staking out districts in which to seek re-election.

Among the open seats, at least one high-level Democratic battle is brewing in the region now represented by Representatives Alan Lowenthal of Long Beach and Lucille Roybal-Allard of Downey, both of whom will retire at the end of this term. Their districts were consolidated into a solidly democratic seat; Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Bell Gardens MP Cristina Garcia have already entered the race.


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