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Orange County Republican incumbents face well-funded Democratic challengers

U.S. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) faces several well-funded Democrats who are challenging him next year in the midterm elections.

The latest round of campaign finance filing data shows a deep-pocketed and crowded field of Democrats looking to oust four Republican incumbents from Orange County-area congressional seats in the 2018 midterm elections. 

The races are closely watched because they could be key to the Democrats' effort to retake the U.S. House of Representatives.

In all, more than two dozen challengers or potential challengers, mostly Democrats, have lined up to raise money to run for the Orange County seats.

The GOP seats targeted by Democrats include the following incumbents: 

  • CA-39: Ed Royce (R-Fullerton)
  • CA-45: Mimi Walters (R-Irvine)
  • CA-48: Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa)
  • CA-49: Darrell Issa (R-Vista)

Some of the district boundaries include areas outside of Orange County — for example, Issa's district also includes parts of San Diego County.

CA-39: Ed Royce (R-Fullerton) $1,969,392.56 $705,069.46 $3,454,652.13
Andy Thorburn (D) $2,142,477.08 $2,142,477.08 $1,991,149.51
Gilbert Cisneros (D) $732,788.71 $732,788.71 $486,180.32
Mai-Khanh Tran (D) $612,436.85 $339,288.79 $493,690.81
CA-45: Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) $1,543,260.44 $432,353.34 $1,404,447.96
Katherine Porter (D) $474,604.06 $163,033.36 $356,693.14
David Min (D) $466,418.09 $162,209.93 $319,178.84
Kia Hamadanchy (D) $309,417.38 $109,406.98 $160,660.20
CA-48: Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) $913,107.79 $347,639.81 $600,000.06
Harley Rouda (D) $601,608.26 $282,272.61 $372,577.59
Scott Baugh (R) $576,176.18 $68.93 $546,984.41
Hans Keirstead (D) $469,441.53 $330,937.24 $302,033.69
Omar Siddiqui (D) $322,832.65 $322,832.65 $308,894.98
CA-49: Darrell Issa (R-Vista) $1,665,090.49 $434,707.69 $852,028.27
Mike Levin (D) $918,919.32 $300,874.66 $530,326.10
Paul Kerr (D) $504,327.05 $504,327.05 $229,039.53
Douglas Applegate (D) $734,703.57 $147,553.95 $263,159.59

Source: Federal Election Commission; incumbent and challengers reporting over $300,000 in total receipts overall.

Democrats would need 24 seats nationwide in next year's midterm elections to regain control. California is seen as central to their plans

All four Orange County incumbents face serious competitors. Royce and Issa, for example, both have Democratic challengers who raised more than they did during the latest quarter — although some of that money comes from personal loans, not contributions. In Rohrabacher's district, two Democrats raised nearly as much this quarter as the incumbent.

Thad Kousser, University of California San Diego political science professor and department chair, said the number of Democrats who have raised more than $300,000 in contributions is notable. Incumbents often face just one serious challenger, he said, but this year they’re each facing several well-funded Democrats. 

"What shocks me is how spread out the money is across different candidates," Kousser said. 

The year-end campaign finance filings due in early 2018 should show if all the challengers can keep up their fundraising or whether there'll be some winnowing of the field. 

Voters will also see a competitive U.S. Senate race in 2018. California's Senate President pro Tempore Kevin de León announced over the weekend that he'd be challenging California's senior senator, Dianne Feinstein.

Feinstein's October quarterly filing shows she has $3,945,778 in cash on hand. No similar Federal Elections Commission records were available for de León. However, latest reports on his two local campaigns show he had a total of $3,711,108 on hand at the end of July.