Could Russian ties cost Rep. Dana Rohrabacher his election? Challenger Harley Rouda makes his case

Can Harley Rouda, a Democrat and a businessman from Orange County, California, turn one of the state's most conservative districts blue? What seemed impossible for decades now is looking very real, as a recent poll shows Rouda, who supports progressive positions like Medicare For All and getting corporate money out of politics, running slightly ahead of Dana Rohrabacher, who has been a congressman since 1989.

While most of the Russian scandal has focused on either Donald Trump's campaign or the National Rifle Association, Rohrabacher has also drawn heat for his unsavory connections to Russian agents such as Maria Butina, his untoward enthusiasm for Vladimir Putin, and his hostility towards sanctions on Russian leaders for committing human rights abuses. In 2016, House Majority Leader and Republican congressman Kevin McCarthy was even caught on tape saying, "There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump."

In his interview with Salon's Amanda Marcotte, Rouda emphasizes that his race isn't just about promoting progressive ideas and representing an increasingly diverse district. He argues it's also about saving democracy in the face of efforts, both within and outside of the country, to undermine the concept of rule by the people. But Rouda also argues Democrats can walk and chew gum at the same time, emphasizing the importance of this election to saving our democracy, while also talking about "kitchen table" issues like health care and jobs.

Watch the interview above to learn more about Rouda's campaign and how the Russian scandal extends beyond the White House and into Congress. For more interviews with candidates, tune in for "Salon Talks" daily at noon ET / 9 a.m. PT and 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT, streaming live on YouTube, Facebook and Periscope

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