Pro­test­ers greet GOP at Flag Day fundraiser

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Seema Mehta seema.mehta @la­times.com

IRVINE — Or­ange County Repub­li­cans gath­ered Satur­day for their an­nual Flag Day fundraiser at a time when their brand as the bas­tion of Cal­i­for­nia con­ser­vatism was in peril — the county voted for a Demo­crat for pres­i­dent for the first time since the Great De­pres­sion, and flip­ping four of the county’s con­gres­sional seats is key to the op­po­si­tion party’s ef­forts to re­take Congress.

But the roughly 1,000 at­ten­dees were un­fazed.

“Bring it on,” said Fred Whi­taker, the county party chair­man, at the din­ner fundraiser at the Ho­tel Irvine. He noted that na­tional Democrats planned to set up an of­fice nearby to con­test four con­gres­sional dis­tricts in the county that are rep­re­sented by Repub­li­cans but voted for Demo­crat Hil­lary Clin­ton in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. “We save those seats, we save the House, we do our part.”

Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Tu­lare) was sched­uled to head­line the din­ner.

The Cen­tral Val­ley Repub­li­can leads the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee and has been at the cen­ter of con­tro­versy be­cause of his han­dling of con­fi­den­tial in­for­ma­tion in the probe of sus­pected Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the Novem­ber elec­tion.

He was to be in­tro­duced by Rep. Ed Royce (R-Fuller­ton), one of a hand­ful of Repub­li­can mem­bers in Cal­i­for­nia who rep­re­sent dis­tricts that voted for Clin­ton. These elected of­fi­cials are ma­jor tar­gets for Democrats as they try to re­take the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives in the 2018 midterm elec­tions.

Su­san Wong, a reg­is­tered nurse from Or­ange, and her hus­band, Jim, were among the pro­test­ers on hand Satur­day. “You just can’t stay home. I’m hor­ri­fied ev­ery day. In­stead of yelling at the tele­vi­sion, I’m go­ing to come out and protest,” said Wong, 64, stand­ing out­side the ho­tel be­fore the event be­gan.

Wong said she has seen a sharp de­cline in the num­ber of unin­sured peo­ple at the com­mu­nity col­lege clinic where she works, progress she fears will be un­done if Pres­i­dent Trump is suc­cess­ful in his cam­paign prom­ise to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act. And she wor­ries about the im­pact on her hus­band, a former re­search bi­ol­o­gist with Parkin­son’s who is on dis­abil­ity.

“I’m a nurse. I know what hap­pens when peo­ple don’t have in­sur­ance,” she said.

Two Repub­li­can law­mak­ers were un­de­terred by the pro­test­ers and dis­missed them due to the size of the group. Rep. Dar­rell Issa (RVista) called them “pa­thetic.”

“They don’t rep­re­sent my con­stituents. None of them rep­re­sent my con­stituents,” said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach). “They are a po­lit­i­cal or­ga­ni­za­tion ask­ing me to pay homage to them. For­get it.”

Issa said the pro­test­ers who visit his of­fice weekly have dwin­dled in num­bers. At the fundraiser, “There were al­most none. There’s a cou­ple mil­lion peo­ple in the sur­round­ing com­mu­ni­ties and to have those few tells you the real mo­men­tum of this move­ment has re­ally died.”

Gina Ferazzi Los An­ge­les Times

LULU HAMMED of Aliso Viejo protests near Ho­tel Irvine, where Repub­li­cans were hold­ing a fundraiser.

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