Tag Archives: Darrell Issa

Hunter Reeling

California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine)

By Jim Ellis

Oct. 7, 2019 — In addition to his legal woes, indicted California Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine) now appears to have severe political problems according to a new just-released CA-50 district study.

A Survey USA poll conducted for the San Diego Union-Tribune (Sept. 27-Oct. 2; 592 likely CA-50 voters; 671 respondents were asked favorability questions about the top four candidates, but the electoral questions were asked only of those who described themselves as likely voters) tested the seven announced candidates for the March 3 California jungle primary.

The S-USA results find Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, the 2018 party nominee who held Rep. Hunter to a four-point win, holding 31 percent support. Former San Diego City councilman and mayoral and congressional candidate Carl DeMaio (R) follows with 20 percent, ex-Rep. Darrell Issa, who recently announced his candidacy records 16 percent, while Rep. Hunter posts only an 11 percent preference factor.

Rather surprisingly, state Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee), also a recent candidate but a public official who represents almost 90 percent of the 50th District, records a very low four percent. The two independent candidates have three percent combined.

It is no surprise that Campa-Najjar is leading. In a crowded field with only one candidate from a particular party, it becomes a simple strategy to coalesce the party members behind the lone contender. While Campa-Najjar will almost certainly advance to the general election in this type of jungle format with so many candidates splitting his opposition party vote, we also must see that 52 percent of the poll respondents chose a Republican candidate. This obviously bodes poorly for the sole Democrat in the general election.

The setup here is similar to last year’s open 49th District, the adjacent seat from which Rep. Issa retired. In the June 2018 election, Republican Diane Harkey finished first by an eight-point margin in a field of 16 candidates but, in the general with only two contenders, it was Democrat Mike Levin who recorded a 56-44 percent victory.

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CA-50: Issa Announces

Ex-California US Rep. Darrell Issa

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 30, 2019 — As expected, former California congressman, Darrell Issa (R), announced late last week that he will enter the state’s 50th District jungle primary against indicted Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Alpine), but the candidate situation is getting so convoluted it is difficult to “tell the players without a scorecard.”

Attending the announcement event with Issa last week were two other announced contenders for the seat, former Escondido mayor, Sam Abed, and current El Cajon mayor, Bill Wells. As part of the Issa declaration, both men announced that they will not become official candidates when the filing period opens and instead endorsed the former congressman.

Earlier in the month, Temecula City councilman and former mayor, Matt Rahn, also said he was leaving the race after being the first to announce. He attributed his decision to the political situation surrounding Rep. Hunter and the other candidates and potential candidates as simply being too convoluted.

Within the past two weeks, state Sen. Brian Jones (R-Santee) announced that he will run for the congressional seat, thus adding even more confusion to the political picture. Because California’s state Senate seats are bigger than congressional districts, Jones already represents about 88 percent of the 50th CD. Prior to winning his Senate seat in 2018 (meaning he does not risk the position to run for Congress because he has a four-year term), Jones served his allotted three terms in the state assembly and two different tours on the Santee City council.

Two other Republicans also remain in the race. Carl DeMaio is a former San Diego City councilman, ex-mayoral and congressional candidate. He came close to being elected mayor in a special election when then-incumbent and former congressman, Bob Filner (D), was forced to resign over a sexual harassment scandal in 2013. He then ran for the 52nd CD in 2014 and lost 52-48 percent to incumbent Rep. Scott Peters (D-San Diego). He is now a local radio talk show host.

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Ex-Rep. Issa Forms Exploratory Committee For Crowded CA-50

Ex-California US Rep. Darrell Issa

By Jim Ellis

Sept. 3, 2019 — Ex-California US Rep. Darrell Issa, who represented the state’s 49th CD for 18 years, just filed a new congressional exploratory committee with the Federal Election Commission. But he is not looking to run in his former seat. Rather, the exploratory committee is organized to survey his chances of winning the adjacent 50th CD, the district that indicted Rep. Duncan D. Hunter (R-Alpine) currently represents.

This congressional district’s political soap opera continues to unfold. Hunter is facing a trial after the first of next year to defend himself against campaign finance charges, certain ones for which his estranged wife and former campaign manager have already negotiated a plea agreement with the government. And, with the early March 3 state primary scheduled concurrently with the presidential Super Tuesday vote, candidates are already announcing their intentions.

Anticipating that the court case will go against the congressman, five Republicans have announced their candidacies. And, with the trial now postponed until after the first of the year (it was originally scheduled for mid-September) there is a strong chance that Rep. Hunter will file for re-election before the state’s Dec. 6 candidate filing deadline. Should Issa decide to enter the race, then at least seven Republicans will be competing.

So many are coming forward because the 50th is one of the safest Republican seats in California, a state that now has a congressional delegation of 46 Democrats and just seven Republicans. However, quite possibly, and largely due to the state’s jungle primary law, the seat could fall into Democratic hands under a very realistic scenario.

Under California law, similar to the system in Louisiana and Washington, all candidates appear on the primary ballot regardless of political party affiliation. In the California process, the top two finishers in the first election, which is in reality a qualifying election as opposed to a partisan primary, advance to the general election.

Because there will be seven Republicans or more on the ballot and, at this point, just one Democrat — 2018 nominee Ammar Campa-Najjar, who posted 48.3 percent of the vote against Hunter — Campa-Najjar’s chances of advancing to the general election are quite favorable.

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GOP Congressmen Endorse Democrat Berman

The unusual effects of California’s new top-two primary law are already coming to light.

Since the June 5 primary, two southern California Republican congressmen, House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA-49) and retiring Rep. Elton Gallegly (R-CA-24), have both issued formal public endorsements of Democratic Rep. Howard Berman in his Democrat vs. Democrat general election contest with fellow Congressman Brad Sherman. Redistricting threw the latter two members into one district and now they must battle each other in what will be a year-long campaign.

As we have covered here repeatedly, the new California election law allows the top-two finishers in what is termed their “jungle primary” – that is where all candidates are placed on the same ballot and each voter chooses just one combatant – to advance to the general election regardless of political party affiliation. Voters adopted the new system through a 2010 initiative vote and it was in effect for the first time on a statewide basis less than two weeks ago. As a result, six Democrat on Democrat congressional general elections have evolved and two Republican versus Republican.

The California business community was largely responsible for qualifying and financing the top-two initiative and did so because they believed it would create greater competition in Golden State elections. During the entire past decade, for example, California voters unseated only one congressional incumbent in their 53 US House districts. Additionally, the movement organizers believed the new system would begin to elect more moderate candidates from both parties. The first results suggest that they might be right on both counts, and Issa and Gallegly’s immediate post-primary action provides evidence to support their second conclusion.

The Berman-Sherman battle in the new San Fernando Valley’s 30th Congressional District is a race of epic proportions. Already featuring a combined spending figure of over $6 million just among the two major incumbent candidates, CA-30 will clearly be the most expensive US House race in the country. Additionally, it will show just how different campaigning in the general election will be when one candidate faces a member of his own party before the entire electorate.

The reason that Berman is beginning to enlist Republican support from people such as Issa and Gallegly is that the hybrid district has 95,432 registered Republican voters, another 8,487 people who affiliate with the conservative American Independent Party, 2,088 Libertarians, and an additional 77,042 voters who state no party preference. Democrats are the largest contingent at 177,638 registered 30th CD members, but even this large number represents only 47.9% of the entire voting universe.

Along with a competitive redistricting map, the top-two primary law is changing the face of California politics. Expect to see more of this cross-endorsement and involvement activity in the 30th and the other districts featuring intra-party general elections. Berman’s Issa-Gallegly move is merely the first salvo in what is sure to become a fascinating game of cross political pressurization.