Cook Political Report Moves CA-48 from “Lean Rep” to “Toss Up” Democrats “Thrilled” with Dr. Hans Keirstead “One of Democrat’s Best Takeover Opportunities in California”

Cook Political Report | Dave Wasserman | October 13, 2017

Toss Up. Rohrabacher’s profile as a surfing, pro-marijuana conservative has played well in this part of Orange County since 1988. But as this coastal district’s demographics have changed, Rohrabacher has taken a different turn: his recent sympathetic comments towards Russia and strange interactions with Julian Assange and internet conspiracy theorist Chuck Johnson could amount to self-sabotage in a district President Trump narrowly lost.

Democrats in DC are thrilled with Hans Keirstead, a stem cell and cancer researcher who founded a biotech company that was sold for $126 million. Keirstead will talk about helping spinal cord injury victims recover function and the need to cut through FDA red tape. He’s not just new to politics, he’s new to the country: he grew up in Canada, still speaks with a Canadian accent and only became a U.S. citizen in 2008.

Keirstead is confident he can get past real estate businessman Harley Rouda in the primary and peel off Rohrabacher’s corporate support, but his political skills are still unproven to say the least. Rohrabacher allies insist voters aren’t focused on Russia and appreciate his “independent streak,” but Democrats can also make the case that 30 years in Congress is too long. This is one of Democrats’ best takeover opportunities in California.


Rohrabacher Challenger Keirstead Outraises Rouda In Third Quarter

Roll Call | Eric Garcia | October 16, 2017

Democratic House candidate Hans Keirstead outraised his Democratic opponents and slightly trailed Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who he is hoping to unseat.

Keirstead, a stem-cell scientist, raised $330,937.24 in total receipts, according to his October quarterly filing with the Federal Election Commission.

Comparatively, Harley Rouda, another Democrat competing the race, brought in $282,272.61 in total receipts, including a loan to himself of $175,000, according to his October quarterly filing. Keirstead also loaned himself $50,000.

In the previous quarter, Keirstead’s first, he raised $138,504.29 and Rouda raised $104,077.96, making this the second consecutive quarter Keirstead outpaced Rouda.

Still, both candidates trail Rohrabacher, who raised $347,639.81 in that third quarter.

Rohrabacher also holds a significant advantage over the two in cash on hand, holding $600,000 on hand. Keirstead has $302,033.69 and Rouda has $372,577.59.

Rohrabacher has been in office since 1989 and is a former speechwriter for Ronald Reagan.

Rohrabacher has faced criticisms for his meeting with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and saying Russia was not involved in the leaking of emails from the Democratic National Committee.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting Rohrabacher after he won with only 58 percent of the vote in 2016 and his district broke for Hillary Clinton.

Both Keirstead and Rouda were listed as candidates to watch by the New Democrat Coalition’s political action committee.

Keirstead was also endorsed by 314 Action, which is dedicated to electing scientists to Congress.

“Democrats and Republicans agree that Dr. Hans Keirstead is the Democratic primary frontrunner and the strongest candidate to take Dana Rohrabacher in 2018,” Keirstead campaign manager Kyle Quinn-Quesada said in a statement.

In California’s primary system, the top two finishers face each other in the general election regardless of political party.

Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Tilt Republican.


Democrats’ road to a House majority runs through 7 California seats

CNN | Eric Bradner | August 8, 2017

In Rohrabacher’s district, Hans Keirstead, a pioneer in stem cell research who sold his business for more than $100 million in 2014 and later bought it back, has given Democrats a top recruit with a science and business background in a district where Republican registration outpaces Democrats.

Keirstead, a 50-year-old Canadian immigrant, said he plans to offer himself as an expert voice on health care with decades of experience in scientific research and pharmaceutical trials and approval — something he said Congress needs.

“The breadth and depth in health care experience is lacking” on Capitol Hill, he said, arguing that Republicans and Democrats “both want experts there — and they both want change.”


House 2018: How Big Is the Playing Field?

Sabato’s Crystal Ball | Kyle Kondik | July 27, 2017

…CA-48 may be one place where the Trump campaign’s potential connections to Russia may have salience given Rohrabacher’s often-expressed warmth toward the Kremlin. Democrats are also excited by the candidacy of stem cell pioneer and businessman Hans Keirstead (D)…we see Rohrabacher as more vulnerable, perhaps significantly so, both because of his own liabilities and his potential challengers.


Keirstead “Mounting Formidable Campaign

CNN | Kyung Lah | July 19, 2017


“Stem-Cell Biologist off to a strong start”

Orange County Register | Martin Wisckol | July 17, 2017

…stem-cell biologist Hans Keirstead off to a strong start after his June 15 entry into the race. Keirstead brought in $139,000 in two weeks and had $135,000 cash on hand.


Republicans concede that Keirstead is a “strong candidate” citing his profile and credibility

McClatchy DC | Katie Glueck | July 19, 2017

To prosecute that case, national Democrats are enthusiastic about Hans Keirstead, a stem cell researcher and businessman who is one of several candidates challenging Rohrabacher. And some Republicans privately concede that Keirstead is a strong candidate.

“You’ve got to take the new contender pretty seriously. He’s got cash,” said a California Republican consultant familiar with the race. “It’s hard to be a good fit for the district when you’re a Democrat. Having said that, I do think his profile looks very strong, it gives him some real credibility in a race against someone whose credibility is sometimes questionable.”


He broke ground in stem-cell research. Now he’s running for Congress.

Washington Post | Ben Guarino | June 20, 2017

Stem-cell researcher Hans Keirstead, 50, announced last week that he will try to unseat California’s Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R). Keirstead, a Democrat with a PhD in neuroscience from the University of British Columbia, was a professor at the University of California at Irvine before launching and selling several biotech companies.


Stem-cell pioneer to challenge Rep. Dana Rohrabacher

Orange County Register | Martin Wisckol | June 15, 2017

Hans Keirstead, a pioneering stem-cell biologist and multimillionaire businessman who was a professor at UC Irvine for 14 years, announced Thursday he would join the field of Democrats challenging Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa.

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


Stem cell scientist to become the latest Democrat trying to topple Dana Rohrabacher in O.C. House race

Los Angeles Times | Cathleen Decker | June 15, 2017

An internationally known stem cell scientist and entrepreneur will join the ranks of candidates trying to unseat Republican incumbents in contested House races next year when he announces Thursday his challenge of 18-term Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Hans Keirstead, a 50-year-old Democrat from Laguna Beach, said Wednesday that he will run in the 48th Congressional District, one of more than half a dozen in California that have been targeted by Democrats seeking to harness sentiment against President Trump in their fight for a House majority.


Medical Researcher Announces Challenge to Rohrabacher

Roll Call | Bridget Bowman | June 15, 2017

A medical researcher announced Thursday that he is running against GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, who Democrats view as particularly vulnerable in 2018.

Rohrabacher’s re-election race is one of the contests where the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections could be a more pertinent campaign issue, since Rohrabacher is a vocal supporter of bolstering relationships with Russia.

Dr. Hans Keirstead is an expert in stem cell research and CEO of the biomedical company AIVITA. National Democrats view Keirstead as a strong challenger to unseat the California Republican.

“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 result,” 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.”


Stem cell scientist joins crowded field to unseat Rohrabacher

The Hill | Lisa Hagen | June 15, 2017

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.


The Orange County Register

Martin Wisckol | June 15, 2017

Hans Keirstead, a pioneering stem-cell biologist and multimillionaire businessman who was a professor at UC Irvine for 14 years, announced Thursday he would join the field of Democrats challenging Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa.

Keirstead said the leading motivation for his decision to run was the country’s health care system, with specific concerns about Republican plans that could reduce those with insurance by 23 million those with insurance and with regulatory fee hikes for companies doing lifesaving research.

“That is going to have a direct effect on development in the biomedical field,” the Laguna Beach resident said. “There’s an ignorance in Washington about health care … an ignorance of the system.”

Keirstead, 50, is a Canadian immigrant who sold his Irvine-based California Stem Cell Inc. for more than $100 million in 2014. His biography at Aivita Biomedical, where he’s currently CEO, says that he raised $93 million in grants and donations while at UC Irvine and $22 million in grants at his current job.

His campaign biography says Keirstead “has led therapy breakthroughs for late-stage cancers, multiple sclerosis, ALS, rheumatoid arthritis, spinal cord injury and retinal diseases.”

Keirstead has already caught the eye of Democrats on a national level[…]


Politico Morning Score

Scott Bland | June 15, 2017

NEW HOUSE CANDIDATE — Democratic medical researcher Hans Keirstead launches bid against GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher: Keirstead, a stem cell researcher and businessman whose work has included treatments for spinal cord injuries and cancer, is kicking off a campaign for CA-48 today. “I’m running for Congress because I believe that innovative thinking and a people-first attitude matter to the constituents of this district,” Keirstead said in a release. Rohrabacher’s CA-48 went narrowly for Hillary Clinton (48 percent to 46 percent) in 2016. He’s not the first Democrat to launch in the district, though: Real estate businessman Harley Rouda is already in the race, too.


Politico California Playbook: ROHRABACHER gets another challenger

David Siders | June 15, 2017

KEIRSTEAD MAKES IT OFFICIAL: Biologist Hans Keirstead this morning announced his campaign to challenge Rep. Dana Rohrabacher in Orange County, as was widely expected. Two other Democrats, Harley Rouda and Boyd Roberts, are already running in the district, but the wealthy Keirstead has drawn the attention of national Democrats. He sold his stem-cell research firm in 2014 for more than $120 million.

— Keirstead statement: “We need leaders in Washington who are dedicated to solving the tough challenges facing our country and our communities – not career partisan politicians who are advancing their own interests at the expense of Orange County families,” said Keirstead.