Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Costa Mesa) used a recent appearance at the monthly gathering of the Newport Mesa Tea Party to implore like-minded members to help "take back the Senate" from Democratic Party control.

"The most important thing for people in the Tea Party, any people who sympathize with the same causes, is for them to gear up for the coming elections and take back the Senate," Rohrabacher said.

Although up for re-election in November, he declined to call his Aug 14 appearance at the Halecrest Park Swim and Tennis Club a campaign stop in his 48th Congressional District bid.

"I generally like to have personal contact," he said, "whether it's to engage in speeches at clubs or just a neighborhood meet and greet."

"He understands the issues, and he wants to inform people," explained Tom Pollitt, a co-founder of the Newport Mesa Tea Party. "Many of these people have never met their congressman before. Now, over the two or three years that we've been involved, Dana's spoken about three or four times, so they know who he is. They feel comfortable asking him questions."

The veteran congressman, who has served 25 years in Congress, uses his appearances to help other conservative-minded candidates at the local, state and national levels. Earlier this month, he endorsed Costa Mesa Mayor Jim Righeimer for reelection to the City Council.

"Our job as citizens is to be informed when we vote for our people," said Pollitt in front of a table full of Tea Party literature, "and to hold those people accountable to what they say they're going to do."

--Matt Morrison