Harley Rouda

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Harley Rouda
Rep. Rouda Official Portrait.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 48th district
In office
January 3, 2019 – January 3, 2021
Preceded byDana Rohrabacher
Succeeded byMichelle Steel
Personal details
Harley Edwin Rouda, Jr.

(1961-12-10) December 10, 1961 (age 59)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (2017–present)
Other political
(m. 1990)
EducationUniversity of Kentucky (BA)
Capital University (JD)
Ohio State University (MBA)

Harley Edwin Rouda Jr. (born December 10, 1961) is an American lawyer and politician from the state of California. A member of the Democratic Party, he served as the U.S. Representative for California's 48th congressional district from 2019 to 2021. The district encompasses south-western coastal portions of Orange County including the cities of Huntington Beach, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach. He first ran for office in the 2018 elections, where he defeated 15-term incumbent Dana Rohrabacher.[1] He was defeated for reelection by Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel in 2020.[2] On January 13, 2021, Rouda announced he was running against Steel in the 2022 election.

Early life and education[edit]

Rouda was born December 10, 1961, in Columbus, Ohio,[3] the son of Marlese Rouda and the late Harley Edwin Rouda Sr.[4] He is the youngest of 4 children.

Rouda received his Bachelor of Science from the University of Kentucky, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta social fraternity. He also earned a Master of Business Administration from Ohio State University and a Juris Doctor from Capital University Law School.[5]

Early career[edit]

Following passage of the Ohio bar examination, Rouda worked at the law firm of Porter Wright Morris & Arthur LLP in Columbus, Ohio until 1990.[6] As a lawyer, Rouda specialized in business with a focus on securities work, business formation, and intellectual property.[7][better source needed]

He left the firm to join his family business, HER Realtors. He would rise to become general counsel of the company in 1997.[8]

Earlier political career[edit]

Rouda says he was raised in a "traditional Republican household."[1] He was a registered Republican until 1997, when he left the party and became an independent because he felt the Republican Party had been moving in the "wrong direction" on social issues.[9] Rouda says the last Republican he voted for was Bob Dole in the 1996 presidential election. He switched his party affiliation to the Democratic Party after the 2016 election.[1] Shortly before registering as a Democrat, Rouda donated to the John Kasich 2016 presidential campaign. Kasich would suspend his campaign shortly before he was defeated by Donald J. Trump in the California primaries. Due to these donations, he was criticized by Democrats as insufficiently loyal to the party or being a "Republican in disguise" during the campaign.[10]

U.S. House of Representatives[edit]


2018 election[edit]

On March 2, 2017, Rouda announced his candidacy for U.S. Representative from California's 48th congressional district, challenging the incumbent, Dana Rohrabacher, shortly after changing his party registration from no party preference into a Democrat.[6] His primary opponent, Hans Keirstead, was endorsed by the Democratic Party of California at the party convention.[11] Rouda received the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee endorsement in May 2018.[12] In the nonpartisan blanket primary election, Rouda secured the second spot over Keirstead on the ballot by 125 votes (from a total of 174,024), thus allowing him to face Rohrabacher in the general election.[13]

On October 25, Michael Bloomberg announced he would be supporting Rouda's campaign by donating $4 million to his PAC, Independence USA. That made Rouda's race against Rohrabacher the most expensive House race in the 2018 election cycle.[14]

On November 6, the election was too close to call, as Rouda held a narrow lead over Rohrabacher.[15] As mail-in votes were counted, Rouda's lead expanded,[16] and the Associated Press called the race in his favor on November 10.[17]

2020 election[edit]

2022 election[edit]

Rouda announced he would run against Michelle Steel in the 2022 election on January 13, 2021, minutes after the second impeachment of Donald Trump.[18][non-primary source needed]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

Electoral history[edit]

California's 48th congressional district election, 2018[19][20]
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Republican Dana Rohrabacher (incumbent) 52,737 30.3
Democratic Harley Rouda 30,099 17.3
Democratic Hans Keirstead 29,974 17.2
Republican Scott Baugh 27,514 15.8
Democratic Omar Siddiqui 8,658 5.0
Republican John Gabbard 5,664 3.3
Democratic Rachel Payne (withdrawn) 3,598 2.1
Republican Paul Martin 2,893 1.7
Republican Shastina Sandman 2,762 1.6
Democratic Michael Kotick (withdrawn) 2,606 1.5
Democratic Laura Oatman (withdrawn) 2,412 1.4
Democratic Deanie Schaarsmith 1,433 0.8
Democratic Tony Zarkades 1,281 0.7
Libertarian Brandon Reiser 964 0.6
Republican Stelian Onufrei (withdrawn) 739 0.4
No party preference Kevin Kensinger 690 0.4
Total votes 174,024 100.0
General election
Democratic Harley Rouda 157,837 53.6
Republican Dana Rohrabacher (incumbent) 136,899 46.4
Total votes 294,736 100.0
Democratic gain from Republican
2020 California's 48th congressional district primary results by county supervisorial district
California's 48th congressional district, 2020
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Harley Rouda (incumbent) 99,659 46.7
Republican Michelle Steel 74,418 34.9
Republican Brian Burley 25,884 12.1
American Independent Richard Mata 5,704 2.7
Republican John Thomas Schuesler 4,900 2.3
Republican James Brian Griffin 2,714 1.3
Total votes 213,279 100.0
General election
Democratic Harley Rouda (incumbent) 189,235 49.1
Republican Michelle Steel 196,208 50.9
Total votes 385,443 100.0

Personal life[edit]

Rouda has been married since 1990 to author Kaira Sturdivant Rouda. They have four children. They moved to California after Rouda sold the family firm.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d Medina, Jennifer (September 7, 2018). "He's a Former Republican Taking On Dana Rohrabacher. Can He Win?". The New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  2. ^ Conradis, Brandon (November 10, 2020). "GOP's Steel wins California House race after Democrat Rouda concedes". The Hill. Retrieved November 10, 2020.
  3. ^ "Candidate Conversation - Harley Rouda". Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. May 5, 2017. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "Harley Rouda Obituary". The Columbus Dispatch. Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved October 12, 2018 – via Legacy.com.
  5. ^ Daily Pilot staff (March 3, 2017). "Political Landscape: Second Laguna resident vows to take on Rohrabacher in 2018 election". Los Angeles Times Daily Pilot. Retrieved November 11, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Furey, Donna (March 2, 2017). "Rouda Steps Up to Challenge Rohrabacher". Laguna Beach Independent. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  7. ^ "August Newsletter 2018". Pacific Palisades Democratic Club. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  8. ^ "Harley E. Rouda Jr.: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  9. ^ Daniels, Jeff (September 14, 2018). "Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Democrat Harley Rouda virtually tied in crucial California race". CNBC. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  10. ^ Wisckol, Martin (March 19, 2017). "Rohrabacher challenger Harley Rouda addresses past GOP affiliation". Orange County Register. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Chmielewski, Dan (February 26, 2018). "Dr. Hans Keirstead Wins California Democratic Party Endorsement". The Liberal OC. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  12. ^ Bowman, Bridget (May 11, 2018). "DCCC Takes Sides to Avoid Shutout in Crowded California Primary". Roll Call. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  13. ^ Alex Padilla. "Statement of Vote June 5, 2018 | Statewide Direct Primary Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State.
  14. ^ Jordan Graham (October 25, 2018). "Election: Michael Bloomberg spends $4M to back Harley Rouda, making CA-48 priciest House race in U.S." Orange County Register.
  15. ^ Graham, Jordan (November 6, 2018). "Election 2018: Democrat Harley Rouda holds lead over GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in CA-48". Orange County Register. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  16. ^ "Election Day +3: Here Are the Uncalled 11 House and 2 Senate Races". Roll Call. November 9, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  17. ^ Kopetman, Roxana (November 10, 2018). "AP calls Harley Rouda winner in race against Dana Rohrabacher". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, Calif. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  18. ^ https://twitter.com/HarleyRouda/status/1349472804731723779
  19. ^ "2018 California primary election results" (PDF). Retrieved June 10, 2019.
  20. ^ "2018 California general election results" (PDF). Retrieved June 10, 2019.

External links[edit]

U.S. House of Representatives
Preceded by
Dana Rohrabacher
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 48th congressional district

Succeeded by
Michelle Steel