Cook puts heat on rep.

GOP fatigue could help Democrat take the 46th District seat long held by Rohrabacher, but his campaign is confident.

October 18, 2008|By Alan Blank

A Democratic challenger has never come close to unseating Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in a congressional race — the Republican has served 10 consecutive terms in the House — but several signs show that changing tides will likely give Huntington Beach Mayor Debbie Cook the best shot yet of upsetting him.

Rohrabacher’s campaign said that some scary poll numbers some weeks ago caused the 20-year congressman to work harder than he ever has in a race, sending out mailers and buying TV ads lately.

Cook’s campaign claimed Friday that the race is in a “statistical dead heat.” She is also setting records, running TV ads of her own — something that hasn’t been done by a Democrat in the district as long as either candidate can remember.


“It’s going to be a barn burner. It’s going to be close no matter what they say,” said Cook’s campaign manager Joe Shaw.

Rohrabacher’s campaign disputes that the election is a toss-up, even if it was once too close for comfort.

Mailers and television spots run by Rohrabacher have rebuilt a sizable cushion for the incumbent, according to internal polling, said his campaign manager, Jim Righeimer.

“Groups have done polling recently and they’re showing that this might be the closest election Dana has ever had, but it’s not one that he’s going to lose in any way, shape or form,” Righeimer said.

Neither campaign would release its polling numbers, but both acknowledged that the affluent, heavily Republican coastal district that has primed Rohrabacher for victories in excess of 20 points in every election for the last decade will not be quite as friendly to the GOP candidate this year.

General frustration with the Bush administration, which has overseen the rapid deterioration of the American economy, is one of the biggest factors in heralding the turnaround for Democrats, according to UCI political science professor Carole Uhlaner.

“Given the combination of a strong, well-known current official with good funding and the change in the national tide there’s a chance that Rohrabacher could lose,” Uhlaner said.

Voter registration numbers are shifting nationwide in the Democrats’ favor, and the 46th District is no different.

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