Issa, DeMaio Scrape Bottom of Barrel in Congressional Race for 50th District

by on February 21, 2020 · 2 comments

in Election, San Diego

By Doug Porter / Words&Deeds / February 14, 2020

We’re less than two weeks away from the 2020 California primary, and the two brand name Republicans in the 50th Congressional district contest are fighting it out over who can run the scummiest ads.

Having been rebuked by his own party for running a “wink-wink” video ad pointing out Carl DeMaio as a Gay man, Darrell Issa has now dialed up some old-fashioned racism to make his case.

A new TV ad features a photo of three shirtless and tattooed men (taken in a Latin American prison) as the narrator insists, “Amnesty. Open borders. Citizenship. Carl DeMaio is dangerous.”

The Orange County Register, hardly a bastion of liberalism editorialized:

  • Issa has apparently learned nothing from his previous time in Congress, has no intention of broadening his appeal and is perfectly willing to drag the GOP back to an antiquated and bigoted past.
  • His history over the past few years highlights one of the many reasons Washington is broken: No one ever wants to leave once they’ve tasted the sweet life of stuffy dinners and constant attention.
  • And as shown in Issa’s case, too many will do anything to get back there.

The contest to fill the very stinky shoes left by Rep. Duncan Hunter (in a Trump+15 2016 District) has seen DeMaio and Issa raising more money during the final three months of 2019 than any non-incumbent Republican candidate in any of the nation’s other House races. 

Issa raised $819,000 from donors and kicked in an additional $1.2 million of his own money. He represented the 49th Congressional district until stepping down in 2018 in the face of continuous protests and changing demographics.

He’d like everybody to believe the departure was tied to a position in the Trump administration as director of the U.S. Trade and Development Agency. In fact, Issa never got a confirmation hearing because the FBI found damaging information about his past while doing a background investigation.

DeMaio used his success in building donor lists with the mostly failing Reform California group to bring in $937,000. He lost contests earlier in the decade for mayor of San Diego and for the 52nd Congressional District.

Both leading Republican candidates have tried to brand themselves as pro-Trump, while painting their opponent as a Never Trumper. The President, despite ads from Issa suggesting otherwise, has not endorsed in the contest.

DeMaio recently began running a spot that, borrowing a theme from a different Issa ad, begins with the narrator saying, “Congress is a circus. And career politician Darrell Issa is its snake oil salesman.”

The commercial claims Issa wants to “con” voters by pretending to support Trump when he really “opposed Trump’s border wall, calling it ‘unnecessary.’” This translates, according to the ad, into the former congressman of backing amnesty for millions of undocumented immigrants.

And DeMaio’s piece de resistance is the accusation that Issa “betrayed Trump as the only Republican to call for a special prosecutor to investigate the president.”

The former San Diego City Councilman seems determined to make the case that he’s the Trumpiest, saying he will close the border. From Valley News coverage of a DeMaio appearance in Temecula:

  • “What I want to make sure we do is we stop dilly-dallying around and go after Mexico in the financial side of their economy. Demand that for every day that their sewage closes one of our beaches, we close the port of entry,” DeMaio said. “So my plan on that is very similar to President Trump’s border wall. We’re gonna force Mexico to build a toilet bowl, Mexico’s gonna pay for it and we’re gonna close the border for every day that their toilet doesn’t work.”
  • DeMaio leveled some criticism at one of his opponents in the race for the 50th District, fellow Republican and former U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, who did not run for reelection in the neighboring 48th Congressional District in 2018, but is now also running to replace Hunter in the 50th.
  • “My opponent Mr. Issa, 18 years (in Congress), voted for amnesty, not once but twice, opposed the border wall, called it unnecessary, demanded that we reduce staffing at the border patrol checkpoints,” DeMaio said. “Oh, look at (Issa’s) contributors. These votes make evident sense on his side of the aisle. Which is, he’s got these big businesses saying, ‘yeah, yeah, tell your constituents whatever, but at the end of the day give us the amnesty.’”

Neither candidate lives in the district.

Other candidates who do live in the district include Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar who finished just a few points behind the scandal-tainted incumbent in 2018, and Republican State Senator Brian Jones.

Campa-Najjar won an unscientific straw poll taken at a Valley Center debate recently with 61% of the vote, DeMaio placed second with 22%, Jones and Issa both polled in the single digits.

David Ross, moderator at the debate, wrote up his impressions for the Valley Roadrunner, making it clear that the differences between DeMaio and Issa were as much personal as political.

  • During the exchanges, DeMaio wouldn’t let Issa escape  responsibility for ads that (wink wink) reminded voters of the talk show host’s being a gay man. Issa said that wasn’t intended as gay baiting since everyone knows DeMaio’s orientation. “DeMaio has run as an openly gay Republican many times. There’s not a secret there,” he said. 
  • DeMaio laid into him: “Mister Issa, the 1990s called,” he said.  “They want their campaign tactics back!” He later declared, “Be a man! If you are going to throw a punch, own it!” 
  • Issa fired back that DeMaio had lied repeatedly about the number of times he has visited the district he is running for. 

A January SurveyUSA poll of 512 likely voters including all 10 candidates who filed paperwork for the position, had Campa-Najjar leading overall, with Issa in second and DeMaio just one point behind him.

The 50th District, which includes much of East County, inland North County and a small portion of Riverside County, was the only district among San Diego County’s five congressional districts held by a Republican. The seat is currently vacant due to Duncan Hunter’s resignation.

h/t to Daily Kos elections for the info.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

stu February 22, 2020 at 9:28 am

After watching the ads I am glad I don’t have to vote in that district. Both of those candidates are n pretty scummy. Demaio would be a career politician if he could get elected. He has certainly tried enough. The fact that neither of them have lived in the district is interesting from a career point. Which one of them likes trump I couldn’t tell from the ad and is that a good thing or a bad thing. Maybe the Democrat will win and spite them both


Tom Allen October 9, 2020 at 8:08 pm

Najjar says on his flyers he is independent but is endorsed by Democrats so what is he?


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