By Jordan Graham

Orange County Democratic congressional candidate Michael Kotick on Wednesday ended his bid to unseat GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, making him the second Democrat in recent weeks to exit the competitive race in order to avoid a scenario in which two Republicans advance to a General Election runoff.

Kotick, a former Nestle executive, endorsed his Democratic competitor, businessman Harley Rouda.

The contest for the 48th Congressional District is for one of four longtime GOP-held seats that national Democrats have targeted as part of a national effort to retake the House of Representatives. But a flood of Democratic candidates in three of the local races – including the 48th – threatens to split the vote in a way that could allow two Republican candidates to make it through to November even if Democrats, overall, get more votes. In California’s jungle primary system, the top two vote-getters advance regardless of party affiliation.

An all-GOP November ballot became more likely in Rohrabacher’s district after well-known local Republican Scott Baugh entered the race near the filing deadline.

Democrats recently pared their numbers in the contest from eight to six, following the decisions to withdraw by Kotick and Laura Oatman, who exited in March while urging others to do the same in the name of party unity. Oatman also endorsed Rouda. Both candidates’ names still will appear on the June 5 ballot because they dropped out after the filing deadline.

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