With his opponent continuing to pick up votes as a final tally of outstanding primary ballots wrapped up, Democratic candidate Hans Keirstead conceded defeat and endorsed opponent Harley Rouda in his bid to unseat Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in District 38 in November.
In the final tally completed more than two weeks after the June 5 primary, Rouda led Keirstead by 126 votes of 173,817 cast, 17.3 percent to 17.2 percent, respectively. The incumbent, a Republican from Costa Mesa, represents a region between Seal Beach and Laguna Niguel. He was the top vote getter with 30.3 percent in the primary contest.
“I congratulate all the fine candidates who ran hard-fought campaigns in this primary and look forward to working with them all to flip this seat in November,” Rouda said in a statement.
“We had a spirited primary, engaged voters, and made sure the nation knows that we can flip the 48th in 2018,” Keirstead said in a statement Sunday. “After weeks of hard work counting every ballot, I congratulate Harley Rouda on advancing to the general election to do just that.”
Fifteen candidates vied to take on the incumbent in a closely watched race where the top two vote-getters of either party advance to the midterm election. Democrats fretted that the stampede of candidates would split the vote and allow a second Republican to advance in November. The fear proved wrong with Scott Baugh coming in fourth with 15.8 percent of the vote, but uncertainty remained for the two candidates from Laguna Beach. The number of votes that separated them continued to flip back and forth as the registrar tallied provisional ballots and late-arriving vote-by-mail ballots since the June 5 vote.
Keirstead pledged to support Rouda, who he believes values the importance of science and facts in public policy and “will give voice to that message.”
“I decided to run for Congress to bring science and facts back to our government. Dana Rohrabacher and the Trump administration have been attacking science in a way that will have long-term, negative effects on our country,” said Keirstead, a stem cell researcher.
Rouda said, “In the days and weeks ahead, I will continue fighting every day to hold Dana Rohrabacher accountable for his reckless, backward agenda that spans from Orange County all the way to Washington.”
This article was update Monday, June 25 at 11:24 a.m.
More details in Friday’s edition.