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Rouda drops House comeback bid after suffering brain injury

California Democrat was seeking seat left open by Porter’s Senate run

Former Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., is dropping his campaign to return to Congress after suffering a brain injury last month.
Former Rep. Harley Rouda, D-Calif., is dropping his campaign to return to Congress after suffering a brain injury last month. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Harley Rouda said Tuesday he will end his campaign to return to Congress as he recovers from a moderate traumatic brain injury. 

The California Democrat, who served one term before losing a reelection bid in 2020, said in a statement that he underwent tests at a hospital late last month after a fall that revealed “a concerning diagnosis” including two intraparenchymal hemorrhages.

“Thankfully, my doctors say that I have started on the path to a full recovery,” Rouda said, also thanking medical staff. “But on their advice, I am ending my campaign for California’s 47th congressional district today. This is not the outcome I wanted. But my family comes first, and to be there for them, I need to focus fully on my recovery in the months ahead.”

Rouda was one of a handful of candidates so far to announce bids for the open 47th District, which Democratic Rep. Katie Porter is vacating to run for Senate. The Orange County district is a swing seat, and was one of the most expensive House races last year. Porter beat Republican Scott Baugh, who has also launched another campaign for the seat, by 3 points. 

Porter has endorsed state Sen. Dave Min, who she defeated in a primary in 2018. Democrat Joanna Weiss, an organizer and founder of Women for American Values and Ethics (WAVE) Action Fund, has also said she is running. California’s all-party primary rules mean the top two vote-getters on primary day, regardless of party, advance to the general election. 

After his election in 2018, Rouda served on the Oversight and Reform and the Transportation and Infrastructure committees. In 2020, he lost to Rep. Michelle Steel, a Republican. He initially said he would run again in 2022, but redistricting put him in Porter’s district, so he opted not to run against her. 

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