Applegate Versus Issa Is the Congressional Race to Watch

by on September 13, 2016 · 0 comments

in California, Election, History, Politics, San Diego

An Overview of House of Representatives Contests in San Diego

SDFP 2016 Nov LogoBy Doug Porter

Of the five electoral contests for the House of Representatives including San Diego voters only the 49th, encompassing the cities of Oceanside, Vista, Carlsbad and Encinitas, looks to be competitive on November 8th. A small part of Orange County and the Marine Corps base at Camp Pendleton are also in the district.

Republican Darrell Issa is facing retired USMC Col. Douglas Applegate.

Issa, the wealthiest member of Congress (2015 estimate: up to $768 million), has all the advantages of incumbency, having served since 2001. Applegate has time and (dislike of) Trump on his side.

After years of winning elections by 20-30% and more, Issa won a three-way primary contest with 51% of the vote in June. Polling showing Hillary Clinton ahead with voters in the once-conservative bastion has Democrats thinking the once impossible is now possible, given the higher turnouts expected in the general election.

california_us_congressional_district_49_since_2013-tif-1What was once a lily white coastal enclave is seeing, as is true throughout California, the ascendancy of the Latino population with strongly Democratic leanings. Republicans can thank Pete Wilson and the anti-immigrant wing of their party for this trend.

But it’s the so-called Trump effect that has Republicans worried and Democrats hopeful. Issa started out as a supporter of Marco Rubio in the GOP primary contests.

From Ryan Lizza at the New Yorker:

But in May, after Rubio left the race, Issa transferred his allegiance to Trump with an almost Chris Christie-like enthusiasm. At a May 27th Trump rally in San Diego, Issa compared Trump to Ronald Reagan. A few weeks earlier, he had published an op-ed in The Hill chastising fellow-Republicans for not backing Trump. The piece was headlined “Memo to Bushes, Other G.O.P. Holdouts: Get on the Trump Train.”

During his spring transformation into a Trump superfan, Issa may have calculated that his own primary, on June 7th, would benefit from a surge of Southern California Trump voters. California uses a so-called jungle-primary system, in which candidates of all parties run in the same race, and the top two candidates advance to the general election.

The Trump surge never materialized. Issa won just fifty-one per cent of the vote. The runner-up, who is now Issa’s general-election opponent, was the retired Marine Colonel Doug Applegate, a Democrat who had never run for office and was outspent by Issa fifteen to one. News of Issa’s near-upset shocked political observers. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee added Applegate to a list of candidates who could flip a House seat from red to blue, and Applegate attracted the services of an experienced campaign manager, Robert Dempsey, whose most recent job was overseeing Bernie Sanders’s primary campaigns in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and New Jersey. When I spoke to Dempsey this week, he told me that Issa’s embrace of Trump would be a dominant issue in the campaign. “Issa called Trump ‘the obvious choice,’ ” Dempsey said. “He is all in on Trump.”

Running as the anti-Trump may be the path of least resistance for Col. Applegate, but it’s hard for me to overlook Issa’s role as a partisan hitman over the course of the last eight years.

The GOP Congressman’s personal loathing for anything associated with The Black Guy who was elected presidet in 2008 was evident through his tenure as chair of the House Oversight Committee. Investigations starting with ‘Fast and Furious’ thru Benghazi thru Obamacare thru the IRS and battling the Environmental Protection Agency, all of which were ballyhooed as THE one who would bring the Kenyan/Muslim interloper down came up empty.

As I said back in 2014, as Issa was turned down for another term as chair of the House Committee:

But the sad fact is that no actual reforms have emerged out of any of his quests, mostly because he’s unable to prove the underlying premise calling for those reforms. Not that he really cares; the goals have always been to malign the current administration and to tap into the fundraising potential of those poor souls suffering from Deranged Obama Syndrome.

An interesting side-note is that, for a guy with all his money, Issa hasn’t donated one cent to his 2016 campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

After 32 years in the Marine Corps, where he served as an infantry officer and, later, a Judge Advocate, Doug Applegate retired in 2006, going into private practice as an attorney. I met him last year and, while he may not be the most liberal Democrat on the block, his sense of integrity is hard to deny. A solid guy, IMO.

The Democratic candidate presents a real contrast to Rep. Issa, whose business and political careers have been built around playing at the margins of truth and honesty.

Congressman_Darrell_IssaFor More Information
49th Congressional District

Darrell Issa

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Doug Applegate - Courtesy Applegate for Congress

Doug Applegate

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California’s 50th- Hunter vs Malloy

california_us_congressional_district_50_since_2013-tifDuncan D. Hunter was elected to Congress in 2008, succeeding his father Duncan L. Hunter, who had served 18 years in the House of Representatives.

The 50th Congressional District spans portions of three counties and includes most of East County, from Jamul near the border north to Temecula, and from San Marcos and El Cajon east to the Salton Sea.

The running joke among political consultants is that voters in the 50th think they’re still voting for the senior Hunter. The district is largely white and large parts of it are rural.

Hunter’s voting record has been decidedly conservative, says Wikipedia. Whether it’s advocating for the deportation of the US-born children of immigrants, advocating for tobacco companies, using tactical nuclear weapons on Iran, or being the sole member of the San Digo Congressional delegation to vote against ending the government shutdown of 2013, he’s bound to be on the far right side of the issues.

He also has the dubious distinction of having been named the number one “party animal” in Congress by the Washingtonian Magazine.

Hunter’s integrity has been questioned this year, with Federal Election Commission reports being the basis news accounts pointing to his use of campaign funds for personal expenses.

Stories in the Union-Tribune have revealed instances where campaign funds were used to pay tuition for Hunter’s kid at a private school and to buy lunches for students at that school (Hunter opposed funding for federal school lunch programs).

The San Diego Union-Tribune previously reported that the campaign spent $297 on 16 trips to Jack in the Box — not the typical campaign wining and dining. The committee also reported spending $216 on “food and beverages” at a jewelry store in Italy, which told the U-T it has no food offerings.

The campaign also spent money at Disneyland — $229 at the Star Trader gift shop in Tomorrowland for “food/beverages.” A spokesman for the park told the Union-Tribune the only edible items the store sells are Pez candy and a Star Wars-themed Rice Krispy treat.

The campaign last month also reported that Hunter had reimbursed the committee for an undisclosed amount spent at Legoland. Although the repayment was noted, the original expense does not appear on financial reports.

The Hunter campaign says it has or will repay all the improper expenses.

Escondido real estate agent Patrick Malloy is the Democrat in this contest. He’s been waging a valiant battle on social media trying to call attention to the incumbent’s shortcomings.

From the Union-Tribune:

Malloy says he’s hearing from independent voters critical of Hunter, but acknowledged that dyed-in-the-wool Republicans appear to be standing by the incumbent. Malloy said one voter from Ramona told him that he wasn’t concerned because the campaign funds Hunter used for personal expenses weren’t that much.

In East County’s 50th District, Malloy might find that he needs more than a minor campaign finance scandal to make headway against the well-entrenched incumbent. Republicans account for 44.5 percent of the voters, outnumbering Democrats and independents, groups that represent 25.6 and 28.6 percent of the electorate, respectively.

Hunter’s office says that Malloy is exaggerating the effect Hunter’s campaign finance trouble is having on voters in the district. Joe Kasper, Hunter’s chief of staff, said their constituents don’t seem to think it’s an issue.

Duncan_D._Hunter,_official_photo_portrait,_111th_CongressFor More Information:
50th Congressional District

Duncan Hunter

Campaign website
Ballotpedia Page

malloyPatrick Malloy

Campaign website
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It’s Juan vs Juan in the 51st

california_us_congressional_district_51_since_2013-tifIncumbent Democrat Juan Vargas has one of safest seats in Congress. The 51st Congressional district includes all of Imperial County as well as the southernmost portions of San Diego County. It’s rated +16 in favor of Dems by the Cook Partisan Voting Index, and minorities make up 85% of the population.

So, unless Vargas gets indicted and convicted for some heinous crime, it’s likely he’ll be re-elected for as long as he wants to serve. He’ll have to careful, though, as the karma of his predecessors, namely Bob Filner and Duke Cunningham, still looms large.

Ex-Marine Sargent Major Juan Hidalgo, Jr was born in San Diego and raised in national City. He’s the GOP’s sacrificial lamb for this contest.

Juan_Vargas_official_photoFor More Information:
51st Congressional District

Juan Vargas

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hidalgo-finalJuan Hidalgo, Jr

Campaign website
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It’s Peters All the Way in the 52nd Congressional District

california_us_congressional_district_52_since_2013-tifMany observers thought the 52nd Congressional district would be a battleground this year, following close races in 2014 and 2012. Incumbent Democrat Scott Peters took no chances, building a public relations presence rivaling that of Mayor Kevin Faulconer.

And then the Republicans couldn’t agree on a candidate. Actually, it was more like they couldn’t find one with enough name recognition to take on Peters.

Denise Gitsham was the GOP winner coming out of the primary. She’s been endorsed by John “Bomb, Bomb, Bomb” Bolton, Donald Trump’s likely choice for Secretary of State.

From Cosmopolitan Magazine:

With a Chinese mother from Taiwan and a Canadian father, Denise Gitsham says she’s “ambiguously ethnic enough to pass for almost anything.” This is how, she joked at CPAC last year, she ended up “as a Hispanic coalitions coordinator” for George W. Bush’s 2000 presidential campaign. Non-politicos might recognize the attorney and small-business owner from her brief appearance on The Bachelor in 2008. She is running for California’s 52nd District.

Peters will always get shade from me for his votes in favor of TPP, essentially barring Syrian and Iraqi refugees, and defunding the Affordable Care Act by way of ending the tax on medical devices.

Scott Peters Cong PhotoFor More Information:
52nd Congressional District

Scott Peters

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gitshamDenise Gitsham

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The 53rd is Susan Davis-land

california_us_congressional_district_53_since_2013-tifThe 53rd Congressional district includes central and eastern portions of the city of San Diego, as well as eastern suburbs such as El Cajon, La Mesa, Spring Valley and Lemon Grove. It’s diverse ethnic and racial composition portend the future of Califonia’s electorate. And that means they’ll vote Democratic and long as the GOP remains old, white and angry.

Congresswoman Susan Davis is about as close as you’ll get locally if you’re searching for a politician to tag as “beloved.” Seriously, people in her district lo-o-ove her.

Her political career started in 1982 with a seat on the San Diego Unified Board of Trustees. In the 2000 election she was one of four Democrats to unseat a Republican.

And she wins re-election with impressive margins.

Davis is great on social issues, tending towards being a Republicrat on defense and trade issues. Opponents of the TPP spent a great deal of time and energy trying to sway her vote, but in the end, she went with the party leadership.

Davis, along with all the Democrats in San Diego’s Congressional delegation, have endorsed Loretta Sanchez in the race to replace Barbara Boxer as the next US Senator from California.

The Republican sacrificial lamb in this contest is Dr. James Veltmeyer, Chief of Family Medicine at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

SusanDavisFor More Information:
53rd Congressional District

Susan Davis

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No Social Media Found

veltmeyerJames Veltmeyer

Campaign website
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Note: For those of you unfamiliar with Ballotpedia, I highly recommend it as a non-partisan source for further information on candidates and ballot issues.

Our endorsements will be included in our General Election Progressive Voter Guide, published shortly after mail-in ballots are delivered in October.

Other San Diego Free Press coverage of the 2016 general election.


This is an excerpt from D Porter’s column at our associated SD Free Press.


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