Harley Rouda

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Harley Rouda
Harley Rouda, official portrait, 116th Congress.jpg
Member of the U.S. House of Representatives
from California's 48th district
Assumed office
January 3, 2019
Preceded byDana Rohrabacher
Personal details
Harley Edwin Rouda Jr.

(1961-12-10) December 10, 1961 (age 57)
Columbus, Ohio, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic (2017–present)
Other political
Spouse(s)Kaira Rouda
EducationUniversity of Kentucky (BA)
Capital University (JD)
Ohio State University (MBA)
WebsiteHouse website

Harley Edwin Rouda Jr. (born December 10, 1961) is an American lawyer, realtor, technology entrepreneur, philanthropist, and politician from the state of California. A member of the Democratic Party, he serves in the United States House of Representatives from California's 48th congressional district, encompassing 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]

Early life and education[edit]

Rouda was born December 10, 1961, in Columbus, Ohio,[2] the son of Marlese Rouda and the late Harley Edwin Rouda Sr.[3] He is the youngest of 4 children.

As a young law student, Rouda worked as a law clerk. This experience made him interested in becoming a lawyer.[1]

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.[4]

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.[5] As a lawyer, Rouda specialized in business with a focus on securities work, business formation, and intellectual property.[6] He also contributed to the firm's pro bono efforts with nonprofit organizations to tackle problems in Columbus during the 1980s. Since then, he has been active in numerous charities and civic organizations especially those involving fighting homelessness and domestic violence.[7][8]

He left the firm to join his family business, HER Realtors. He would rise to become general counsel of the company in 1997.[9]

Earlier political career[edit]

Long before Rouda would run for a political office, he considered running for a city council seat before backing out, preferring to focus on expanding his business.[10] Being raised by Republican parents, he would first register as a Republican in his youth until 1997, when he left the party and became an independent because he felt it had been moving into the "wrong direction" when it comes to the social issues.[11] Since the 2004 elections he would always vote for the Democratic presidential nominees, however Rouda donated only to Republican congressional candidates during the same period before 2007. Shortly before registering as a Democrat, Rouda donated to the John Kasich 2016 presidential campaign. John Kasich would suspend his campaign shortly before he was defeated by Donald J. Trump in the California primaries. Due to these donations respectively, he was criticized by Democrats as insufficiently loyal to the party or being a "Republican in disguise" during the campaign.[12]

U.S. House of Representatives[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.[5] His primary opponent, Hans Keirstead, was endorsed by the Democratic Party of California at the party convention.[13] Rouda received the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee endorsement in May 2018.[14] 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.[15]

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.[16]

On November 6, the election was too close to call, as Rouda held a narrow lead over Rohrabacher.[17] Rouda's lead would expand shortly after,[18] until the Associated Press called the race for Rouda on November 10.[19]

Committee assignments[edit]

Caucus memberships[edit]

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]

Electoral history[edit]

California's 48th congressional district election, 2018[20][21]
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


  1. ^ a b c Medina, Jennifer (September 7, 2018). "He's a Former Republican Taking On Dana Rohrabacher. Can He Win?". New York Times. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  2. ^ "Candidate Conversation - Harley Rouda". Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales. Retrieved October 12, 2018.
  3. ^ "Harley Rouda Obituary". The Columbus Dispatch. Columbus, Ohio. Retrieved October 12, 2018 – via Legacy.com.
  4. ^ 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.
  5. ^ a b Furey, Donna (March 2, 2017). "Rouda Steps Up to Challenge Rohrabacher". Laguna Beach Independent. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  6. ^ "August Newsletter 2018". Pacific Palisades Democratic Club. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  7. ^ "About us". Porther Wright. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  8. ^ "Harley Rouda". Voice of OC. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  9. ^ "Harley E. Rouda Jr.: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg. S&P Global Market Intelligence. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  10. ^ Venezia, Barbara (August 9, 2018). "Harley Rouda thinks the sweet spot is in the moderate middle". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  11. ^ Daniels, Jeff (September 14, 2018). "Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, Democrat Harley Rouda virtually tied in crucial California race". CNBC. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Wisckol, Martin (March 19, 2017). "Rohrabacher challenger Harley Rouda addresses past GOP affiliation". The Orange County Register. Retrieved January 5, 2019.
  13. ^ Chmielewski, Dan (February 26, 2018). "Dr. Hans Keirstead Wins California Democratic Party Endorsement". The Liberal OC. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  14. ^ Bowman, Bridget (May 11, 2018). "DCCC Takes Sides to Avoid Shutout in Crowded California Primary". Roll Call. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  15. ^ Alex Padilla. "Statement of Vote June 5, 2018 | Statewide Direct Primary Election" (PDF). California Secretary of State.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ "Election Day +3: Here Are the Uncalled 11 House and 2 Senate Races". Roll Call Staff. Roll Call. November 9, 2018. Retrieved December 30, 2018.
  19. ^ Kopetman, Roxana (November 10, 2018). "AP calls Harley Rouda winner in race against Dana Rohrabacher". Press-Telegram. Long Beach, Calif. Retrieved November 10, 2018.
  20. ^ Cite error: The named reference Primary Election was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  21. ^ Cite error: The named reference General Election was invoked but never defined (see the help page).

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

U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)
Preceded by
Max Rose
United States Representatives by seniority
Succeeded by
Chip Roy