After pulling papers on Wednesday for the 48th Congressional District against incumbent Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach), former Assembly Republican Leader Scott Baugh (R-Huntington Beach) completed and submitted all the paperwork necessary to qualify for the ballot this afternoon just a few hours before the close of filing.
As of the last campaign finance reporting period ending December 31, Rohrabacher reported $713,000 cash-on-hand while Baugh reported $545,000 cash-on-hand. A former Chairman of the Republican Party of Orange County, Baugh had raised nearly all of his funds in 2016 (raising just $3,000 in 2017), as he suspended fundraising activities in 2017. Baugh had previously stated that he was raising the money to prepare a bid for CD-48 after Rohrabacher retired.
I had previously written about the possibility of a Republican vs. Republican general election in CD-39 and CD-49, but Baugh’s entry now makes this a legitimate possibility in CD-48. Democrats are targeting all three seats in their hopes of capturing the majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. However, a Republican vs. Republican general election would literally guarantee a seat staying in Republican hands, especially since Prop 14 precludes write-in candidates from the general election. Prop 14’s creation of the Top-Two primary election could well stop the Democrats’ effort to seize the House.
This scenario actually happened in CD-31 in 2012 where four Democrats split the vote, and two Republicans went to the general election in a seat that was supposed to be a swing seat.
In their articles about Baugh pulling papers, the Orange County Register, the Los Angeles Times, and the Nooner all wrote of the possibility of the all-Republican general election due to California’s Top-Two primary election and the large number of Democrats running against Rohrabacher and Baugh.
Analyst Scott Lay of the Nooner wrote:
[Baugh is] in a competitive position and has the Dems worried.
Polling done for Fight Back CA PAC, which is focused on flipping 7 seats for the Democrats, finds that, with Baugh in the race, there’s a distinct possibility of another competitive district with two Republicans advancing to November. Three Democrats are shown to be competitive and each have plenty of dough–Hans Keirstead ($490k), Harley Rouda ($847k), and Omar Siddiqui ($540k).
In the polling, Rohrabacher leads, and Baugh is basically tied with the top two Democrats, and he hasn’t done any campaigning.
For that reason, I’ve moved the district from Leans Democrat to Toss-up, although Leans Republican might be more appropriate–of just a “Top-Two WTF?”