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Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel said Wednesday the Orange County Congressional races are key for the GOP maintaining control of the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Orange County is critical to Republicans maintaining the majority in the House,” McDaniel told reporters. “So that’s why I’m here to campaign for Dana Rohrabacher.”

She visited the Republican Party field office in Laguna Niguel Wednesday morning to help spur Republican voter turnout in the area for Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa), who’s been in office for nearly 30 years.

One man was overheard speaking with his friend in the parking lot criticizing Rohrabacher’s legislative track record. According to GovTrack, the Congressman has been a primary sponsor on four bills that have been enacted since he took office in 1989.

The man indicated he will reluctantly vote for Rohrabacher instead of Democratic candidate Harley Rouda, despite the Congressman’s legislative record.  

“But I ain’t no fucking socialist,” the man said, before driving off in his car.  

Democrats have outpaced Republican fundraising by at least $1 million in each of the four decisive Congressional races in Orange County — the 39th, 45th, 48th and 49th Congressional districts, according to the New York Times.

National Democrats have targeted the four districts because Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump in each district in 2016. Not only do Democrats need to hold their current seats, they need at least 23 more to gain control of the 435-member House.

Rouda out-raised the Congressman by nearly $2.8 million.

McDaniel said the GOP has been investing in the “ground game” for over a year and a half.

“So the RNC has been investing in California for over a year and a half. We’ve invested in our ground game, our outreach. It takes a long time to hire staff, to get your volunteers organized to go knock doors,” McDaniel said. “And that type of investment and … infrastructure — Democrats can’t match with money coming in late.”

The 48th Congressional district is home to nearly 402,000 registered voters as of Oct. 15, according to data from the Orange County Registrar of Voters. Republicans hold a nine-point lead over Democrats at 38.7 percent of voters, while no party preference voters consist of 27 percent of voters.

Election handicapper websites Larry Sabato’s Crystal Ball and the Cook Political Report both consider the 48th Congressional District a toss up.

A New York Times poll released Sept. 6 shows Rohrabacher and Rouda are tied. And a Los Angeles Times poll released Oct. 4 also has the two even.

When asked how Rohrabacher’s denial of climate change could affect voters, McDaniel said she couldn’t answer for the Congressman, but Republicans across the country are running “district-specific” races with success and said people are “whole issue voters.”

“Obviously you live in a beautiful area and that’s going to be an utmost concern for your voters,” McDaniel said.  

She then highlighted the state’s gas tax and said voters are going to have to balance their choices.  

“When it comes to obviously the gas tax, that is going to cost people in this county a lot of money to fill up their tanks. Those are the things they are going to have to balance, and they may disagree on different issues, but in the sum total they’re going to pick the candidate that best represents their issues and I think Orange County is a fiscally conservative community,” McDaniel said.

The RNC paid for anti-gas tax ads that are playing at gas pumps in nearly all the pivotal OC Congressional districts, except the 45th district — the Democratic candidate in that district, Katie Porter, broke Democratic ranks and opposed the gas tax.

An anti-gas tax rally will be held 6 p.m. in Anaheim Wednesday at 94 E. Orangethorpe Ave. Rohrabacher is slated to be there, along with Republican Congressional candidates Young Kim (39th District) and Diane Harkey (49th District).  

Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him at scustodio@voiceofoc.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio

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