California Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, medical marijuana champion, facing tough GOP primary challenge

SANTA ANA, Calif.–Rep. Dana Rohrabacher was already having a tough election year.

The Orange County Republican has drawn more than a half-dozen Democratic challengers, some of whom have raised more money than the 15-term congressman.

Election handicappers declared his race a toss-up, protesters have shown up at his home and district office, and Rohrabacher’s name has frequently come up during the investigation into Russian election meddling because of his connections to key figures in the inquiry.

Then Scott Baugh, a well-known Republican who spent more than a decade leading the county party, decided to run against him.

As the GOP works to protect vulnerable incumbents whom Democrats want to oust in order to regain control of the House, Rohrabacher’s longtime local support network is starting to buckle.

“I’m just looking for some strong leadership out of the 48th Congressional District, somebody that represents the gravitas of our location,” said state Sen. John Moorlach, who has endorsed Baugh.

Assemblyman Scott Baugh, R-Huntington Beach, during an Assembly session in Sacramento, Calif. The well-known Republican has declared himself a candidate in a crowded field attempting to oust longtime GOP Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from his seat. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

Moorlach and other prominent Republicans, such as Pat Bates, the GOP leader of the state Senate, refused to sign onto a letter the Orange County Republican Party circulated asking Baugh to abandon his bid, which they said was “divisive and presents an unnecessary distraction.” More than two dozen officials, including House GOP Leader Kevin McCarthy, Reps. Mimi Walters and Darrell Issa and several state legislators added their names.

“You have someone with a solid Republican voting record,” said Assemblyman Matthew Harper, who signed the letter. “It’s not as if he’s strayed away from the way Republican voters and Republican leadership would want

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