Ac­tivists rally to flip O.C. House seat blue

GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher de­clined in­vite to ‘town hall,’ call­ing lib­eral group ‘a bunch of fas­cists.’

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Javier Pan­zar javier.pan­zar@la­times.com Twit­ter: @jpan­zar

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Tor­rance) got a rock star’s re­cep­tion Tues­day night at an Aliso Viejo town hall or­ga­nized by lib­eral ac­tivists in Or­ange County who are work­ing to oust Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa).

Ac­tivists in­vited Rohrabacher to speak, but he de­clined.

The event in­stead served as a pep rally for ac­tivists and a net­work­ing event for the sta­ble of Demo­cratic can­di­dates seek­ing to chal­lenge Rohrabacher in 2018.

Rohrabacher’s seat has been rated a toss-up by po­lit­i­cal prog­nos­ti­ca­tors, and some of his chal­lengers have been rais­ing money at a con­sid­er­able clip de­spite be­ing new to pol­i­tics.

In re­cent months, Lieu has seen his pro­file raised among lib­er­als thanks to his brash tweets chal­leng­ing the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion.

His ap­pear­ance Tues­day was largely an op­por­tu­nity to get lo­cal ac­tivists mo­ti­vated for the midterm elec­tion in 2018, when Democrats have put a special em­pha­sis on cap­tur­ing a hand­ful of tra­di­tion­ally red seats in Or­ange County.

“It is your job to make sure peo­ple are ex­cited next Novem­ber as they are right now,” Lieu said.

“With your help, what we are go­ing to see when Don­ald Trump gives his State of the Union ad­dress in Jan­uary of 2019, we are go­ing to see him and be­hind him we are go­ing to see Speaker Nancy Pelosi look­ing down on him.”

Ac­tivists from the lo­cal In­di­vis­i­ble group have got­ten into con­fronta­tions with Rohrabacher’s dis­trict staff and pick­eted out­side his home de­mand­ing he host a town hall.

When one mem­ber of the group theatri­cally “served” the con­gress­man with an in­vi­ta­tion to Tues­day’s town hall, Rohrabacher threw the en­ve­lope to the ground.

“Your or­ga­ni­za­tion acts like a bunch of fas­cists,” he said.

Kenneth Grubbs, a spokesman for Rohrabacher, said Tues­day the con­gress­man would not at­tend the town hall.

“He has am­ple ev­i­dence that In­di­vis­i­ble is a par­ti­san group cre­ated to dis­rupt and not serve the pub­lic dis­course,” Grubbs said in an email. “Portrayals of its in­ten­tions to the con­trary are disin­gen­u­ous.”

Other In­di­vis­i­ble groups, work­ing off a shared play­book, are host­ing sim­i­lar town halls with Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress in ar­eas rep­re­sented by Repub­li­cans who haven’t held town halls of their own.

Rep. Linda Sanchez (DWhit­tier) is sched­uled to host a town hall Thursday in Repub­li­can Rep. Ed Royce’s dis­trict at the Fuller­ton Com­mu­nity Cen­ter.

Tom Wil­liams CQ-Roll Call

REP. TED LIEU got a rock star’s wel­come as he urged ac­tivists to spur voter en­thu­si­asm for the 2018 midterm elec­tion.

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