It’s possible both the 49th and the 50th district Congressional seats could end up remaining Republican.
Messages of congratulations for people who’d persisted and protested outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s office for over a year rolled in from all over the country yesterday.
MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow noted “Now that he’s actually retiring, they’re celebrating by teaching other activists about what they did,” and shared a 15 tweet how-to thread from San Diego Indivisible.
The Congressman’s announcement that he was stepping down came just one day after retirement party-themed protest drawing nearly 400 people in the rain outside his Vista offices.
There was no doubt over what protest organizers would do next after learning of Issa’s announcement–they called for a real retirement celebration. Hundreds of people showed up for dancing in the streets, a little bubbly and to deliver a goodbye cake outside the Congressman’s office door.
Organizer Ellen Montanari says she and others are waiting to see which of the high-profile Democratic candidates emerges with the most votes in the primary before backing someone.
Jess Durfee, who now is Chair of the Western Caucus of the Democratic National Committee, took to Facebook to warn about the potential pitfalls ahead:
As we celebrate the retirements of both Darrell Issa & Ed Royce – a word of caution.
We have a top two system in California. Meaning that the two highest vote getters in the Primary (regardless of party affiliation) are on the ballot in November.
In Issa’s district we have four Dems running. Two have personal wealth, one has done stellar fundraising and one was the candidate two years ago who has high name ID.
If the GOP is well disciplined and manages to keep their field to two strong candidates splitting say 45% of the primary vote and we (the Dems) go in with four candidates splitting the remaining 55% of the vote, we could lose this election in June.
The same scenario could play out in Royce’s district where we have 5 or 6 Democratic candidates.
Multiple Republicans are talking about taking the plunge.
- Assemblyman Rocky Chavez might have had inside information about what was about to transpire. Or it’s simply a coincidence that somebody registered a congressional campaign website just prior to Issa’s announcement. The Oceanside legislator is considered a RINO by party stalwarts.
- Board of Equalization Chair and former Assemblywoman Diane Harkey is telling the media she’s in the race and has the backing of Issa and Irvine GOP Congresswoman Mimi Walters.
- Patent attorney Joshua Schoonover says he’s switching his candidacy from the 50th Congressional District (running against Duncan Hunter) to run in the 49th.
- Voice of San Diego reporter Jesse Marx came up with a list of potential candidates based on conversations with Republican party insiders, including County Supervisor Bill Horn, former San Diego City Councilman Carl DeMaio and San Diego County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar.
SDRostra’s Brian Brady considered the possibilities early in the day, prior to any announcements:
My guess is that every North County City Council member, Assembly member, and State Senator will consider their chances in the next few weeks. My short list of potential candidates would include: County Supervisor Kristin Gaspar, Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, County Supervisor Bill Horn, Escondido Mayor Sam Abed, Vista Councilmember Amanda Rigby, Vista Deputy Mayor John Franklin, Vista Mayor Judy Ritter, Carlsbad Mayor Matt Hall, Assemblyman Bill Brough, State Senator Pat Bates, and maybe Aliso Viejo Mayor Mike Munzing. I am sure another half dozen political newcomers will consider a run as well.
Horn, Abed and Munzing don’t live in the District. They can still run, but that can be used against them. I can’t see Chavez getting much support from Republicans after he broke his taxes promise — if he runs, he’s a vanity candidate. Gaspar is new in her job as County Supervisor and doesn’t have much name recognition — if she runs, she’s a vanity candidate. Franklin and Rigby are both austere candidates, but their names aren’t well known in Dana Point, Encinitas or Rancho Santa Fe. Brough has no name recognition in San Diego. In my mind, Bates or State Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey are positioned best to run.
I have nothing against Bates, but Harkey is the only candidate who can win this election. This is going to be a tough race with millions of Democratic money thrown at it. Harkey can raise money, has represented several hundred thousand constituents in the District, has an enviable record as the Chairwoman of the Board of Equalization, and has been in elected office in the District since 2004.
An article at Politico focused on the GOP’s concerns in the wake of recent retirements:
That storm is easy to see building, even if the long-range forecast for November is less clear. Trump’s approval rating is just under 40 percent in the RealClearPolitics average. Democrats have an 11.8-point lead on the generic ballot, on average — a lead consistent with making up the two dozen seats the party needs to win control later this year.
Trump’s poll numbers were warning signs for Issa and Royce, said Rob Stutzman, a GOP consultant there.
“There’s no denying that this is real evidence of how difficult Republican success can be in California,” said Stutzman. “But as with retirements elsewhere, for Republicans in districts that Trump lost, [Trump’s] performance is a substantial factor.”
The retirement age for California Republicans is apparently “Two years into 45’s presidency.”
— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) January 10, 2018
Democrats need to win 24 seats to flip the House of Representatives. The president’s party has lost an average of 32 in every midterm election since before the Civil War, with two exceptions, one during the Great Depression and the other after the Sept. 11 attacks.
Meanwhile, over in the neighboring 50th Congressional District, Rep. Duncan Hunter’s prospects continue to look bleaker.
The Hill reports today that Darrel Issa is considering a run for the East County seat, should Hunter run into legal difficulties.
GOP Rep. Darrell Issa, who said Wednesday he is not seeking reelection in California’s 49th district, has been discussing with colleagues the possibility of running in a neighboring San Diego district if embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) resigns, multiple sources told The Hill.
Some of these discussions happened as recently as Wednesday, the day Issa announced he would not be running for reelection in his coastal Southern California district after 15 years in the House.
Most of Washington took that to mean Issa, the former Oversight Committee chairman and Congress’s wealthiest member, was leaving Capitol Hill for good. But in his statement, Issa never specifically said he was retiring from Congress.
Issa’s decision depends on Duncan Hunter’s legal troubles continuing to escalate.
The Union-Tribune’s Morgan Cook landed another big story including news of a December 21 grand jury subpoena to a (as yet unnamed) business in Hunter’s Congressional district.
The transactions are not among those that have come under scrutiny by the FEC and, subsequently, the Union-Tribune, which first raised questions about Hunter’s campaign spending in April 2016. Use of campaign contributions for personal benefit is forbidden by federal law to protect against undue influence by donors.
Hunter’s contributions are dominated by defense contractors and transportation companies whose businesses are affected by the committees on which he serves.
Hunter has denied intentional wrongdoing but has reimbursed his campaign for more than $60,000 of purchases including video games, oral surgery, groceries, garage door repair, family vacations, surfing equipment, dance recital trips, school lunches, school tuition and school uniforms.
The East County Republican has been on a public relations offensive recently, appearing on KUSI to point the finger at unnamed individuals in the Department of Justice for intentionally delaying the resolution of their criminal investigation into misuse of his campaign funds.
“It’s concerning that it’s taking so long,” Hunter said of the investigation. “Like we talked about earlier with the President’s DOJ investigation. I think that the Department of Justice is somewhat biased, there are individuals there that they like to make big cases, they like to do big things, it makes a name for them. And I think the longer that they drag this out, the worse it is for me. And they know that…So let’s just get it over with… let’s do this…They understand the longer that they take with these things, the longer they can drag it out into the political election cycle, the worse it is for me, just like the worse it is for Trump. That’s what they do.”
Unlike the 49th Congressional District, which has become more purple in its political makeup in recent years, Hunter’s home base is a GOP stronghold. He coasted to an easy victory in the 2016 election, winning over Democratic challenger Patrick Malloy with 63.5% of the vote.
The uprising of protest following Trump’s ascendency into the Presidency in that election led seven Democrats to declare they’d take on Hunter in 2018.
In terms of fundraising, three frontrunners emerged: Pierre Beauregard, Josh Butner, and Ammar Campa-Najjar.
Activists with Indivisible CA50 took a long look at the crowded field and decided on an early endorsement strategy. The group hopes to translate its grassroots support into a boots-on-the-ground effort enabling a candidate to overcome an adverse political climate.
From the Union-Tribune:
The group held more than half a dozen endorsement meetings to allow members throughout Hunter’s district to vote on their preferred candidate. One of the candidates, Pierre Beauregard, dropped out of the race recently and endorsed Campa-Najjar.
Campa-Najjar said in a statement that the nod “represents the enthusiasm of hundreds of progressive grassroots activists.”
Indivisible’s national political director Maria Urbina said the endorsement was the first made by any California chapter in the 2018 midterms.
In early December, the UT’s Michael Smolen took a look at what the GOP’s Plan B might be should incumbent Duncan Hunter be indicted or withdraw from the race.
On one level, the answer seems simple: popular state Sen. Joel Anderson is the first name that comes up among the politically savvy folks in the region. But timing could complicate matters and thwart any notion he or anybody else has about filling a Hunter void, if there is one.
Should a timely vacancy open in Hunter’s district, there are plenty of potential candidates in addition to Anderson: Mayors Steve Vaus of Poway and Bill Wells of El Cajon, former Assemblyman Brian Jones of Santee and Councilman Mark Kersey of San Diego, to name a handful. Lemon Grove Mayor Rachel Vasquez or La Mesa council member Kristine Alessio are deemed to have bright political futures and could be in the mix, and there’s probably a rich business person or two who may be interested.
The question of timeliness concerns where or not any adverse events with Rep. Hunter take place before or after March 9th, the deadline for filing in California contests.
Should a vacancy occur after the filing deadline, Governor Brown has the option of not calling a special election. Hunter’s name would remain on the primary ballot, along with two lesser-known Republicans running against him.
Since California’s primary is a top-two-regardless-of-party system, it’s conceivable that any combination of names could appear on the general election ballot, even–gasp!–two Democrats. And it’s also within the realm of possibility that both the 49th and the 50th district Congressional seats could end up remaining Republican.
Looking for some action? Check out the Weekly Progressive Calendar, published every Friday in this space, featuring Demonstrations, Rallies, Teach-ins, Meet Ups and other opportunities to get your activism on.
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