Michael Kotick, a candidate in California’s 48th Congressional District, endorsed the bid by fellow Laguna Beach Democrat Harley Rouda to unseat incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in the November midterm election.
In suspending his campaign on Thursday, April 12, Kotick becomes the second candidate after Laura Oatman of Newport Beach to back Rouda and drop out of the hotly contested race.
Democrats see the midterm race as an opportunity to flip District 48, which spans Seal Beach to Laguna Niguel. Republican voter registration in the coastal regions exceeds that of Democrats 36 percent to 34, respectively.
Some Democratic leaders have expressed concern their vote will be splintered across too many candidates for any one to win one of the top spots in California’s winner take all June 5 primary.
“This is going to be a tight one,” said county Democratic Party chair Fran Sdao, who pointed out the consolidation in District 48 comes too late to concentrate the Democratic vote.
“If they would have done this before March 9 I would have given them a parade,” she said of Kotick and Oatman.
Despite suspending their candidacies, their names remain on the ballot along with 14 others because they completed and submitted candidacy papers prior to March 9 with the county registrar. “Everything has locked down,” said Marcia Nielsen, a spokeswoman for the registrar.
Sdao also described as “misleading” an ad run by Rouda on cable television that includes a graphic saying he is endorsed by county Democrats. “He is not,” she said.
That powerful endorsement went to a rival in the race, scientist Hans Keirstead, also of Laguna Beach. “Orange County Democrats have chosen Dr. Hans Keirstead to take on Dana Rohrabacher because they know his experience using science and facts to solve problems is desperately needed in Washington to provide a check on Donald Trump’s dangerous policies,” said Kyle Quinn-Quesada, spokesman for the Keirstead for Congress campaign.
Another Rouda rival has vowed to stay in the race is Omar Siddiqui, an environmental lawyer from Costa Mesa. This week he picked up the endorsement of Orange County Young Democrats.
Kotick’s decision makes no impact on Siddiqui’s intentions, said campaign manager Luis Aleman. “We feel pretty confident where we are,” he said.
Though the longtime incumbent received the backing of the state Republican Party, he also faces a challenge from within his own ranks from former OC GOP Party chair Scott Baugh.
In a statement, Kotick said, “with 16 candidates declaring their candidacy for CA-48, and living in a country that is laced with division, the most important job for those who care about their community is to bring people together.” He thinks Rouda has done that.
For his part, Rouda complimented Kotick for running a spirited, issue-oriented campaign and expressed appreciation for his support. Besides his fellow candidates, Rouda’s backers include several Democratic members of Congress, unions, gun safety groups and some local elected leaders.