Stem cell scientist joins crowded field to unseat Rohrabacher


Stem cell researcher Hans Keirstead is the latest Democrat to jump into the race to unseat longtime Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R) in one of California’s top swing seats. 

Keirstead announced his bid on Thursday, touting a career in medicine and saying he can bring a new outlook to Congress. 

Both national and local Democrats are excited about Keirstead’s entry into the race to challenge Rohrabacher, who has become a top target ahead of the 2018 midterms. Keirstead is the CEO at AiVita Biomedical in Irvine, Calif., and his biography says he’s an internationally known stem cell scientist who “has led therapy development for late stage cancers” and other diseases.

Democrats are targeting several GOP-held seats in California. Hopes are especially high for Rohrabacher’s Orange County-based seat, since Hillary Clinton carried the district by less than 2 points in 2016. 

{mosads}“Through my career in medicine and as an entrepreneur, I’ve dedicated my life to saving and improving people’s lives – working to find cures for diseases previously thought incurable and being held accountable for those results,” Keirstead said in a statement.

“I’m running for Congress because I believe that innovative thinking and a people-first attitude matter to the constituents of this district. If given the opportunity to represent our community in Congress, I’ll bring a new perspective of problem solving and accountability.” 

At least four other Democrats are already running to challenge Rohrabacher, who has served in Congress for nearly 30 years. Some of those Democratic contenders include business owner Laura Oatman and businessman Henry Rouda, who are both former registered Republicans. 

Rohrabacher has never had a serious Democratic challenge. While he’s had a well-known pro-Russia stance for years, his views have been thrown into the spotlight amid the investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. 

The New York Times reported last month that the FBI warned Rohrabacher in 2012 that Russian spies wanted to recruit him.

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