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Dana Rohrabacher Loses, Eroding Republican Foothold in California

Category: Political News,Politics

Representative Dana Rohrabacher, a Republican fixture in California who represented Orange County for 15 terms, lost his bid for re-election. His defeat underlines the party’s setbacks in a part of the state that was long a symbol of its political dominance.

The Associated Press called the race on Saturday, with Harley Rouda receiving 52 percent of the vote to Mr. Rohrabacher’s 48 percent.

Mr. Rouda, 56, is a former Republican turned Democrat who became a symbol of the Democratic efforts to win back Congress this year. Mr. Rohrabacher, 71, was viewed as particularly vulnerable because he defended Russia in the midst of allegations about its efforts to intervene in elections in the United States.

In July, Mr. Rohrabacher admitted to meeting with Maria Butina, who was charged by federal prosecutors this summer with conspiracy and acting as a foreign agent, during his trip to Russia in 2015. Mr. Rohrabacher was considered so valuable to the Kremlin that the F.B.I. warned him in 2012 that Russia regarded him as an intelligence source worthy of a code name.

Democrats have focused on seven seats in California that were controlled by Republicans. The loss by Mr. Rohrabacher — whose advocacy of President Vladimir Putin of Russia even raised questions among fellow Republicans — marks the third Democratic victory in those races. The rest remain too close to call.

Support for Republicans has been steadily eroding in Orange County; Hillary Clinton in 2016 became the first Democratic presidential candidate to win there since the Great Depression. Now, roughly a third of voters in the county are registered Republicans, down from more than half in 1990. Roughly 30 percent of voters in the district are not registered to either party.

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