Specter of impeachment haunts Rep. Jim Rogan's re-election effort
GLENDALE, California (CNN) -- Republican Congressman Jim Rogan is in the fight of his political career. He is locked in one of four key California races, with the Democrats needing only six seats to gain a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Rep. Jim Rogan
Rogan is running in a district that is increasingly Democratic. He hopes to get a bounce from Arizona Sen. John McCain, the former Republican presidential hopeful who appeared Tuesday night at a $500 a plate, backyard fund-raiser in posh Bel Air.
"I think history will judge him not only with kindness but with praise for the job that he and others did, during that very difficult time for the American people," McCain said.
This former judge and prosecutor rose from relative obscurity to be appointed as one of the House impeachment managers who prosecuted President Bill Clinton during his 1999 trial in the Senate. It ended in acquittal, but made Rogan a big hit among staunch conservatives.
"I am more proud to have stood with those men and women on the Judiciary
Committee to do the right thing, than anything I have ever professionally done
in my life," Rogan said.
While Rogan outspent his toughest challenger, Democratic state Sen. Adam Schiff, the two-term Republican ended up almost 3,000 votes behind Schiff in California's first blanket primary, where all the candidates were listed on the same ballot.
"To be ahead of the incumbent early in the campaign is quite astounding," Schiff told CNN. "Particularly since, we have not spent our money on communicating with voters.
We will be doing that extensively in the fall."
Democratic Congressional Candidate Adam Schiff
And for his relative obscurity, Schiff gets his money from some pretty astounding sources. His fund-raisers have been hosted and attended by film moguls such as David Geffen, Steven Spielberg and Jeffery Katzenberg.
It has made this race the most expensive congressional race in U.S. history.
"This will probably be out of the door on both sides, a $10 million race," Rogan said. "That is not my fault, that is the fault of all those who decided to put a cross-hair on me.
The truth is, he wouldn't have been in this race if it hadn't been for impeachment," he said of his opponent.
Rogan won his first race with 51 percent. His second term, he won with 50.8 percent. Now, he is raising money from out-of-state -- and firing back with television ads such as this one:
"Jim Rogan supports a patients' bill of rights and wants Medicare to pay for prescription drugs. Adam Schiff supports a health care plan that creates lawsuits for trial lawyers and personal injury lawyers, who contributed nearly $100,000 to his campaign."
For his part, Schiff says he is a firm supporter of health maintenance organization reform and patients' rights. Organizers in both parties say of the four congressional races, this one is the primary focus:
"For the California Republican party, re-electing Jim Rogan to Congress is
our number one priority," said John Fleischman, executive director of the California GOP.
Art Torres, chairman of the California Democratic Party, added: "We're going to put 120 percent in terms of winning those four congressional races to help elect Dick Gephardt Speaker of the House." Gephardt, a Missouri Democrat, currently serves as the House Minority Leader.
Rogan says he hopes voters here will look at his work to improve public
schools and shore up Social Security; and says if they want to judge him on
the impeachment trial -- that's fine too.
"People at the end of the day want their leader to do what they think is right; and not what they think is going to get them re-elected. Well, I gave at the office on that one," Rogan said of his tough impeachment stance. "And on November 7th, the folks here can decide whether they want a congressman like that. If they don't, I will come home
and thank them very much for the privilege."