Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel defeated first-term Democratic Rep. Harley Rouda in California’s 48th Congressional District after the incumbent conceded on Tuesday.

Steel narrowly won the election with 50.9% to Rouda’s 49.1%, with 95% of precincts reporting.

“When I ran for Congress in 2018, it was the first time I’d ever run for political office. But after creating thousands of jobs in a lifetime in business, I couldn’t stand by any longer as our political system tore itself apart,” Rouda, a former real estate executive, said in a statement.

Rouda also suggested he’d seek a rematch against Steel in the 2022 midterm elections.

“While one campaign ends today, another is just beginning. I look forward to having voters compare my opponent’s two years in Congress with my accomplishments on November 8, 2022,” he continued.

Rouda was among seven House Democrats in 2018 to flip Republican seats in California, with four of them based in whole or part in traditionally Republican Orange County. Steel challenged the first-term lawmaker this cycle in an effort to return the seat to Republican hands.

The district, which is part of California’s coastal region of Orange County, including Huntington Beach, was previously represented by 30-year incumbent, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who Rouda beat two years ago by a 7-point margin largely due to Rohrabacher’s lauding of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

However, Steel, who is also married to California Republican Party National Committee member Shawn Steel, was expected to be a stronger candidate for Rouda to face this cycle. The Cook Political Report rated the district as “R+4” but also declared it as “Leans Democrat.”

Political attacks began early when Rouda, known for his controversial outbursts, went after Steel for wearing a mask at a county board meeting in April, saying she was keeping necessary personal protective equipment away from frontline workers.

In a subsequent video to supporters, Rouda compared Trump’s 2016 election to the rise of Adolf Hitler and told Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to “f— off” in a tweet.

Author: Kerry Picket

Source: Washington Examiner: Steel defeats Rouda in California’s 48th Congressional District

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