April 02, 2020
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Former Republican congressman who once arm wrestled Vladimir Putin moves to Maine

Damian Dovarganes | AP
Damian Dovarganes | AP
In this Nov. 6, 2018, file photo, Dana Rohrabacher addresses members of the media and supporters waiting for elections results at the Skosh Monahan's Irish Pub in Costa Mesa, California.

A Republican who once arm wrestled Russia’s Vladimir Putin in a dive bar and lost his re-election bid to Congress in 2018 has left his native California to settle in Maine.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Dana Rohrabacher bought a 1910 Victorian-style home on 3 acres in York for $849,000. The 72-year-old has moved there with his wife and 13-year-old triplets, the newspaper reports.

Rohrabacher said Maine has a “much more traditional lifestyle with its colonial/patriot culture,” according to the Press Herald. He said he has “no regrets” about leaving California.

Rohrabacher, who represented Orange County in the U.S. House for 15 terms, was unseated in 2018 when a blue wave brought Democrats to a majority in that chamber. He courted controversy during his re-election bid when he said that refusing to sell homes to gay men and lesbians is OK if homeowners “don’t agree with their lifestyle,” according to The Washington Post. Those comments lost him the endorsement of a national realtors group.

During his time in the U.S. House, Rohrabacher co-sponsored a 2015 bill from U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat from Maine’s 1st District, that would have allowed U.S. residents to buy prescription drugs from Canada. He was the only Republican co-sponsor. That bill did not make it to the president’s desk.

Rohrabacher, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan, was also a proponent of marijuana legalization, even joining Pingree as the only Republican co-sponsor of a 2013 bill to legalize marijuana nationwide. (That bill died in committee.) In a 2017 Washington Post opinion piece, he touted his amendments to spending bills to stop the federal government from conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries and called on conservatives to protect medical marijuana patients from the government.

Outside of Congress, Rohrabacher has lived a colorful life. As a southern California native, he was an avid surfer (the title of his unpublished autobiography is “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Surfing”). In the 1980s, he embedded himself with a mujahideen infantry unit in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion, the Press Herald reports.

Rohrabacher even once lost an arm-wrestling match to Putin in the 1990s, when Putin was deputy mayor of St. Petersburg, at a Washington, D.C., dive bar, the Press Herald reports.

 


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