Not long ago the Big Fear was no Democrats would make it past the primary to the general election. There was some serious infighting going on, and only late-entrant Christina Prejean was willing to take one for the team in the 49th Congressional District, leaving four candidates ready to go the distance.
A disaster was in the making; a general election amid a Blue Wave and two Republicans to chose from. Certainly, things couldn’t get much worse.
Then the Republicans stepped up and said, “Hold my beer.”
Now there are eight Republicans vying for Darrell Issa’s old seat, and four of them have at least a modicum of name recognition. Three of them are casting shade on each other, pitting the reasonable vs the teabagger vs the cool coastal factions of the GOP against each other.
Add four more minor party/no party preference candidates, and you’ve got a grand total of sixteen–count ‘em–sixteen candidates certified for the June 5 primary ballot. Only the top two, regardless of party will make it to November.
“Alexa! Order another case of popcorn.” I have a feeling we’ll all be needing it.
The 49th Congressional District, a once reliable Republican stronghold, is a-changin. Hillary Clinton beat Donald Trump by more than seven points in 2016, a complete flip from 2012 when Mitt Romney topped Barrack Obama by the same margin.
The Republican brand is still strong along the coast, especially in the Orange County part of the district. Overall, the GOP has 37% of registered voters, the Dems have 31%, No Party Preference 26.4%, with minor parties holding sway over the remaining 5.6%.
Incumbent Congressman Darrell Issa saw the handwriting on the wall and opted to retire shortly after 2018 began. Weekly protests outside his Vista office by Indivisible and allied groups brought national attention to his vulnerability.
These protests gave birth to an alliance of groups who have already been canvassing door-to-door for roughly six weeks, aiming to drive Democratic voter turnout in the primary. A strong turnout would make for a level playing field, at the least.
The group started off by polling voters, hoping to create an understanding of candidates weaknesses and strengths. Information, both positive and negative, about Republican and Democratic candidates were included in the poll.
FULL DISCLOSURE: I donated basic research on all candidates (that I was already compiling) for purposes of formulating questions used in the polling.
An attempt by Flip the 49th to hold a “viability forum” for Democratic candidates took a disastrous turn when Applegate, Jacobs, and Kerr declined to participate. Each candidate claimed they were dropping out due to legal concerns–since a PAC was staging the event.
I think–my opinion–this was a bullshit excuse: the candidates dropping out simply didn’t see any advantage to answering the questions sent to each of them in advance. (They were tough, and could have conceivably been used by GOP opponents down the road.).
In retrospect, I understand the thinking. Voting is ultimately an emotional expression based on belief systems. For all the talk of issues among pundits, the act of filling a bubble next to a candidate’s name comes from the heart, and this event wasn’t designed to stoke anybody’s good feelings.
What I don’t accept are the conspiracy theories spun out of this event.
The Democratic candidates are Doug Applegate, Sara Jacobs, Paul Kerr, and Mike Levin.
Since supporters of a couple of these candidates have already claimed I’m in the bag for whoever it is they perceive as their opposition, everybody is listed in alphabetical order.
I do have opinions about the candidates, but ultimately will be happy with anybody who’s willing to say No to Trump. The sorting process involving what kind of Democrat we need to see in the future won’t be resolved in this election, so there’s that.
The big name on the Democratic side is Doug Applegate, who’s riding high on the name recognition factor of being the man who almost brought Congressman Darrell Issa to his knees in 2016.
The attorney and retired Marine Colonel has the support of many of the region’s Bernie Saunders supporters along with a dozen union locals. His stands on the issues show Applegate to be firmly in the progressive wing of the Democratic party.
The Applegate campaign hasn’t met expectations when it comes to fundraising. Reports of turmoil with the campaign organization may have something to do with it. A strong online presence is no substitute for a well-organized voter engagement field strategy.
Quote: True patriotism is about serving our country in any way we can. Our duty as citizens is to keep America strong and working for all of us. Too many people today believe that playing by the rules and working hard are not enough to give the next generation the chance to get ahead. I will fight to give all hard-working Americans an opportunity to succeed. With three children, including one in college, I know our future depends on good-paying jobs, affordable college, and a strong middle class. By cutting through the politics and focusing on common sense solutions, I will connect with voters across party lines in a district that includes Camp Pendleton, and nearly 80,000 veteran households.
Democrat Sara Jacobs would be the youngest member of Congress if elected. She’s got smarts, a good campaign staff, and, most of all, lots of inherited Qualcomm money to spend. Although Jacobs got into the race later than most, she’s picked up key endorsements, including Emily’s List, the National Organization for Women, Representatives Susan Davis and Juan Vargas, along with City Attorney Mara Elliot.
She is, however, a bit thin on the actual experience part of her candidacy. There’s lots of time in the vicinity of great minds in her past and her heart is in the right place when it comes to the issues. And you have to admit, she is a fresh face in politics when it seems like the old farts haven’t been able to accomplish very much.
Quote: Throughout my career, I’ve always tried to use the opportunity and perspective I was given to find places where I could have the most impact. My approach is to seek out the really tough problems, understand as much as I can about those problems from people with different perspectives, and bring the right groups of people together to fix them.
Democrat Paul Kerr portrays himself as someone who has challenged adversity, become sucessful, and wants to pay it back. He’s made a pile of money over the years and hasn’t been shy about investing in his own campaign. I don’t know if TV ads can overcome name recognition issues, but Kerr is giving it the old college try.
His campaign site and social media pages say all the things a progressive would want to hear, but I just don’t know…
Quote: When I was just a teenager my Mother was diagnosed with ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. Very shortly thereafter, my family was buried under a mountain of bills. And we had insurance! My mom passed away 3 years later, but it took my Dad another 5 to 6 years to dig his way out from under those bills. This shouldn’t happen in America. No family should go bankrupt, or come as close as mine did, just because someone in the family gets sick.
That is why I support expanding Medicare to cover every woman, man, and child in America. Providing quality health care for every American should be our nation’s top priority.
Democrat Mike Levin is an environmental attorney with a history of working on political campaigns. He’s connected to the party, has paid his dues, and, as a result, gets portrayed as the ‘Pelosi Democrat’ by his detractors.
There is little doubt in my mind that the invisible finger of the party leadership has been tipping the scale in his favor. That said, he’s got a credible campaign organization in the field and enough funding to make his case. Let’s face it, Levin is closer to Hilary Clinton politically than Bernie Saunders, and folks are using his candidacy to refight those battles.
Quote: I will fight the Trump Administration’s desire to privatize public education. Instead, I will advocate for our local public schools to get the resources they need to hire and keep excellent teachers, reduce class sizes, and invest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs. We need to focus on training and retraining teachers, especially in STEM, special education, and bilingual instruction. We must address an increasingly dire teacher shortage by improving college loan forgiveness programs, addressing housing accessibility, and making it easier for retired teachers to return to the classroom and provide mentorship.
The Republican Candidates are Rocky Chavez, Kristin Gaspar, Diane Harkey, Brian Maryott, David Medway, Craig Nordal, Mike Schmitt, Joshua Schoonover.
Republican Rocky Chavez is currently an Assemblyman representing the Oceanside area. Of all the GOP candidates, he has the highest name recognition, and arguably the best record of constituent service. His status as a retired Marine and work on veterans issues plays well in a region whose economy is influenced by Camp Pendleton.
However, Chavez is –gasp!– a RINO (Republican In Name Only). He’s broken with the party leadership on things like cap and trade, along with a tendency to see brown people as human beings.
Quote: By unleashing innovation and investment, and by providing a skilled and educated workforce, we can help our companies, large and small, grow and create jobs, with a smart balance of high-tech, manufacturing, biotechnology, tourism, energy, transportation and health.
Republican Kristin Gaspar is currently Chairwoman of the San Diego County Board of Supervisors. She is ostensibly a “coastal Republican,” meaning moderate positions on social issues, environmentally aware rhetoric, and eager to serve the business community. Lately, she’s been tacking to the right. The Supes are getting ready to go into closed session later in April to join the administration’s lawsuits against California’s so-called sanctuary laws.
It’s important to realize that Kaspar is the only member of the Board of Supervisors who is not termed out. As such, there is very little downside to her congressional candidacy and long-term advantages to mounting even a losing campaign at this point.
Quote: San Diego is fortunate to have a strong regional border in large part because we already have a wall in place. However, there are still vulnerabilities that allow human and drug trafficking, and other criminal activities. That is why it is important to enforce federal immigration laws, including opposition to so-called “sanctuary” laws being advocated by Sacramento politicians.
Republican Diane Harkey is the person Rep. Darrell Issa would like to replace him in Congress. She served three terms in the California State Assembly in a district encompassing nearly half of the residents of the 49th Congressional District before moving on to become Chairwoman of the State Board of Equalization.
So she’s been on a ballot or three and has the advantage of name recognition. She also has endorsements from a who’s who of 40-plus elected officials, ranging from Carl DeMaio to Congresswoman Mimi Walters. It’s safe to say Harkey represents the business wing of the Republican party, which means it’s all about “taxes, taxes and taxes.” Oh, and a curfew and buddy system for Congresscritters to keep them on the straight and narrow.
Quote: Harkey strongly supports policies that ensure future improvements in water, power and transportation and public safety that will allow California to retain its place as one of the top-ranking economies in the world.
Republican Brian Maryott is Mayor Pro-Tem of San Juan Capistrano. In January he retired from a career in the financial services industry and declared for this seat the following day.
The issue positions described on the campaign website paint Maryott as a conservative minus the hateful rhetoric. Which means he’ll smile as he votes to “re-think” “entitlement programs” like Social Security and Medicare.
Quote: This dynamic district comprises of cities that are rich in history, culture, great school districts, beautiful destinations, wildlife, strong communities, and incredible individuals. As someone who is raising their children in District 49, Brian Maryott has an invested interest in seeking not only the best for our community but also seeks to protect and only improve it for our future generations to enjoy and thrive in.
Republican David Medway is a physician who lives in Carlsbad with his wife and two children. He wrote a book about pandemics and appears to have some awareness of environmental issues.
The issues part of his website is (literally) a blank slate, and with no social media accounts associated with his campaign, it’s hard to tell much more about him.
Quote: I want to protect working families from increasing taxes, healthcare bills, and gun violence (while still protecting our right to bear arms). I want to prevent national catastrophes like pandemics (which I wrote a book about) and environmental disasters (such as protecting our coastline from nuclear waste and oil spills that would devastate our shores). I support women’s rights and the melting pot of cultures that make up California. I support lower taxes, less government and the best healthcare and education in the world for all Americans at reasonable prices.
2017 Fundraising: n/a
Republican Craig Nordal is first and foremost an evangelical Christian. He’s so Christian, in fact, that his claim to fame was standing outside Encinitas Union School District elementary campuses holding up a sign saying: “PROTECT YOUR CHILDREN OPT OUT OF YOGA! Luke 17:2.”
Yup. He’s one of the folks who think we’re all going to h-e-double-hockey-sticks if yoga gets introduced into schools. What might seem to be one grandparent’s crusade is actually part of an assault on secular education crafted by the likes of the National Center for Law & Policy.
Quote: Craig brings a life long commitment to conservative principals and beliefs. As an Evangelical Christian he is a strong defender of religious liberty and will make issues of faith his highest priority as well as border security and immigration. Craig also strongly agrees with and supports the Tea Party Patriots. He supports and would join and seek to lead the Tea Party Caucus and the Freedom Caucus in Congress. Craig fully supports our President Donald J. Trump.
Republican Mike Schmitt is a healthcare practitioner with “more advanced college degrees than anyone else running.” He apparently went to Iraq in 2014 with his own money to “show the survivors that we Americans care. In some cases, all these people needed was gas and lunch money to go in and fight ISIS.”
His issues include fixing healthcare costs with health savings accounts, interstate competition for high deductible insurance policies, and a less interventionist approach to foreign policy.
Quote: Imagine what a “non-politician” candidate with my experience and record can accomplish versus the others in the race. I’m not just pursuing naked political ambition simply to add “Former Congressional Candidate” to a resume or for some personal business gravitas. I work in a healing profession, so it is of no consequence.
Republican Joshua Schoonover originally filed as a candidate in the 50th Congressional District, running against Duncan Hunter. When Issa decided to ‘retire,’ Schoonover switched contests. That’s okay because you don’t legally need to actually live in a district to represent it in Congress.
Schoonover is a Patent Attorney, surfer, ex-NASCAR driver, and family man. He’s running for Darrell Issa’s seat because “the activist left is becoming more aggressive, and even violent” and “ We, as Republicans, need a Representative who is young, strong, energetic, and able to deflect the intimidation tactics of the activist-left.”
Quote: While officially a Republican, Joshua is moderate with respect to many social issues, including Education / Federal Student Aid, Same-Sex Marriage, and Cannabis regulation. It is important to invest in people by providing access to quality education, and it is possible to abstain from things personally while respecting the freedom and liberty of others.
Other candidates include: Joshua Hancock (Libertarian), Jordan Mills (Peace & Freedom), Robert Pendleton (No Party Preference), Daniells St. John (Green)
The Libertarian candidate is Joshua Hancock. The Oceanside resident and ex-Marine wants you to know he’s never been a political candidate before. Like many other Congressional candidates of the right-wing persuasion, part of his platform involves running against State of California policies.
His Facebook page features articles from a rightist rainbow of righteousness, with lots of memes explaining how gun violence activists are stupid, socialism is bad, we need a wall, yada, yada.
Quote: Many politicians running for office in the US today hold a position based on what is politically convenient at the time. I do not. As a Libertarian, I hold to a specific political, social, and economic ideology. You will know what I believe at the beginning, middle, and end of any political career you may entrust me with. I invite you to look through my statements on the issues to find out what those beliefs are.
The Peace and Freedom Party candidate is Jordan Mills, who says he’s the only socialist in the race. Since 2000, he’s been a professor and debate coach at Southwestern College.
A visit to his Facebook page shows him to be active in participating in rallies and demonstrations for many causes. Recently he spoke at a protest at the Vista Sheriff’s office in support for the families of Jonathan Coronel and Sergio Weick, both who died at the hands of deputies in recent years.
His campaign has also been endorsed by the Party for Socialism and Liberation.
Quote: Look, we all want to fight Trump. If you want to fight Trump by arguing with your uncle at the Thanksgiving table, you should stay part of the two-party system. But if you want to fight Trump’s agenda, if you want a candidate that really doesn’t hate working people and really accepts immigrants and really cares about the environment and really wants to stop the power of the 1% and stop the wars, vote for a third party: vote for the Peace and Freedom Party, and please vote for Jordan Mills for Congress. Thank you very much.
The No Party Preference candidate is Robert Pendleton. He’s an Oceanside Ophthalmologist hoping to organize a political party around “K9,” “a philosophy of decision making based upon the attributes of dogs that make “man’s best friend” so special: Unconditional Love, Simple Needs, and Readiness to Defend.”
K9 seeks to “implement the 28th Constitutional Amendment: the Doctrine for Elimination of Excessive Privilege and Strategic Hierarchy of Intelligent Term-limits (I’ll leave it to you to work out the acronym). This amendment will advance our great nation to a new era in politics with CONGRESSIONAL TERM LIMITS, and an ELIMINATION OF GERRYMANDERING.”
Quote: Donkeys and elephants have failed. It’s time for dogs to lead.
The Green Party candidate is Danielle St. John. Two of her core messages are both parties suck, and the need to build a cooperative economy.
Sadly, it goes downhill front there into fringeland. Like an RT Video exposing how Russian Trolls are not a thing. And March for Our Lives is “another corporate march trying to pass off as activism” because they decided to incorporate within the system. Oh, and the video on Facebook diving into the New World Order.
So if you want to stick it to the man, here’s your candidate.
Quote: People absolutely deserve a decent standard of living, but capitalism’s desire for infinite growth is in direct conflict with our desire to live on a planet with finite resources. Reality cannot be denied and people should not bear the brunt of a failing economic model.
Due to technological advancement, I don’t see capitalism providing humanity as a whole with the opportunity to earn a living wage. Rather than focus on wages which have us playing an unconscious game of musical chairs, we must start focusing on providing ourselves with services that governments and capitalism are not suited to effectively deliver.
A couple of notes about this series.
- Of course, this is biased. That’s what people who write columns do; express opinions.
- Financial data is based on Federal Election Commission reports issued 12/31.17. None of the non-Democratic candidates filed before this deadline because Darrell Issa was expected to appear on the ballot.
- The ‘Quote’ section includes short passages drawn from candidates’ websites or social media that I feel give an accurate flavor for who they are. With 16 candidates, I felt the need to keep it interesting. These statements are not an endorsement of the opinions expressed within.
- Other articles in this series include: Snapshots of Congressional Districts 51, 52, and 53 | Three Incumbent Democrats With Safe Seats, Digging Up Dirt in Duncan Hunter-Land | Election Snapshot for the 50th Congressional District, Debate Dodging and Disappointed Democrats in the 49th Congressional District, Show Us the Money, Part 2: Congressional Campaigns
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