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Campaign To Flip The 49th Congressional District Off To An Early Start

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December 19, 2017 1:19 p.m.

Campaign To Flip The 49th Congressional District Off To An Early Start

GUEST:

Carl Luna, political science professor, San Diego Mesa College

Related Story: Campaign To Flip The 49th Congressional District Off To An Early Start

Transcript:

This is a rush transcript created by a contractor for KPBS to improve accessibility for the deaf and hard-of-hearing. Please refer to the media file as the formal record of this interview. Opinions expressed by guests during interviews reflect the guest’s individual views and do not necessarily represent those of KPBS staff, members or its sponsors.

San Diego Republican candidate Darrell ISIS' district has been considered to be one of the most dangerous seats in Congress. A play to flip the 49th district is underway. Every Tuesday morning the sidewalk outside his district office is filled with people chanting and carrying signs, --. Allen has led the rallies and she's amazed at how the passion has persisted.I thought it would evaporate like resist Trump Tuesdays. I thought it would evaporate when the summer hit. I thought it would evaporate once the holidays hit and I am not seeing anything evaporating.This bill of grassroots activation is unusual one whole year before the election but the head of the San Diego Republican Party is skeptical of the rallies.It makes people feel good but at the end of the day standing around yelling doesn't get the job done. You have a fair amount of protest. I would argue that people are being paid to show up. You have a lot of this Astroturf stuff going on. I don't really know how deep this stuff goes.Bill Reiner of American combat veterans of war is one of these that laughs at the idea that he is being paid to be here.I would take the money but I am not being paid. I am here on my own free time. This is called democracy, for those people that don't understand it.Dominick says the rallies have become a focal point for people with all kinds of agendas.There are advocates for climate change, advocates for choice, advocates for criminal justice reform as well as getting rid of the corporate interest in our government.She and the protesters are both unpaid according to the protester. But there is a Super PAC that has declared fundraising of over $400,000 so far, 40% of it raised locally. Instead of spending at all in TV ads they are investing in neighborhood organizing.Thank you all for being here on a lovely Saturday morning.This is a page community organizer and he is building an army of volunteers like this group that gathered recently in a Solana Beach parkMany people are asking, what is up at the 49th. What are we doing? We are a grassroots organization focused on talking about the issues, canvassing, talking to our neighbors and having phone banks all across the 49th.It's unusual to have this level of community organizing a whole year before the election. Republican super PACs are also gearing up. Jason Roach work source two national Super PAC, the American National -- action network, being one of them. He says they are shifting their focus.What is different from what you typically see with the super PACs that are mostly focused on television first and foremost and maybe digital advertising coming in second, and once in a while male, what you are seeing -- mail, what you are seeing now is grassroots.Reporter: He says he will caucus on new technology to reach the voters.What we used to do door to door, identifying voters, knocking on doors, talking to friends, you can now do this easier.This one is doing it the old-fashioned way, knocking on doors.The vast majority of people are willing and anxious to talk. They are frustrated with the way things are going, politically, and they are desperate to share their frustrations picks and that I have no doubt we will be able to do this for a year because the frustration is not going to go away.Darrell Issa is one of the most wealthy man man in Congress. They are counting on voter turnout. With all of the energy, campaigners on both sides think many more voters will get engage in this key congressional race in 2018. Joining me now's political science professor Carl Luna. Thank you for joining us.Good to be here.First of all let's talk about the money that the flip the 49th campaign has just raised. Where is that coming from?Blood and water attract sharks and money at the polls attracts this. There's a whole organization working toward this, money from the entertainment community such as Jane Fonda. There's only going to be a couple competitive races and that's going to track the real money.Is about $400,000 raised by this new Super PAC, how significant is that in the big picture?Almost one year out from the election, this is unusual.Darrell Issa is one of the richest in America, at least in the house, he's got the pockets. This is going to be possibly a double-digit million-dollar race.Remind me of the political makeup of the 49th going down to La Jolla. What is a like in terms of registered voters?Historically it has been a safe Republican district that as the North County has ballooned and the county has become more purple, it's in play. Remember Darrell Issa actually lost northern Center County to Donnie Appleby -- Applegate last year. There's a change. Maybe the Cal State University of Santa Barbara is affected. You've got a lot of things that are moving this district out of safely Republican hands and Darrell Issa is rated as the most vulnerable House Republican right now.So there are four Democrats that have jumped into challenging. Doug Applegate as well as Michael Leventhal and Sarah Jacobs. Are any of them do any of them have the advantageWithout a whole lot of name recognition he almost won the seat.He is the Marine Colonel.Yes, the Marine Colonel. I think he could steal some of that thunder. We will see how that plays out. Whatever Democrat emerges is going to have a very strong position, particularly if the presidential approval Raiders -- ratings are tanking and the tax overhaul doesn't generate a lot of money in people's pockets.I guess Mark Levin is an environmental attorney and he's in Orange County so that might be a more challenging part of the district to take on.If you can establish the state -- the street plan, people knocking on doors, he becomes viable. We will have to see how it sorts out. The fact that we are talking about this in December is a sign that this is a race that we have to keep an eye on.How much do you think Darrell Issa has changed his stripes since his narrow win last year.Voting against the tax cut is a good start. Housing and mortgage deductions and student loan deductions and things like that, he has had to try to choose his district. If you are going to blue yourself for this district, why not just go with the Democrat?Do you expect to see him break with his party more next year?The big question is, what does the president do over the next six months. What are the dividing issues. You have the immigration reform issue. Keeping the government open, and a vote next year on raising the debt ceiling. There's a lot of straight out red meat, if I dare say, issues on the table. Republicans are going to have to choose what they will do after the tax bill. Every time Darrell Issa associates himself more with the party, that could hurt him in his district.This shift that we heard about in the super PACs from spending money, not just on ads, because we have all been inundated by TV ads etc., but more on grassroots mobilizing; what do you think this is going to mean for the average voter?It's a Roy Moore effect. Apparently what worked in Alabama was a lot of people really angry going door to door and people showed up that don't usually show up at all for these elections. You are going to have a much stronger Democratic Disneyland if you have people knocking on doors all the way from La Jolla to Disneyland. Republicans have to be worried that they lost a couple that they shouldn't have nationally. Now this is going to come to roost in the most vulnerable House races.Traditionally it's the Democratic party that rallies the troops and gets people to turn out to vote. Is it a bit surprising that this new Super PAC now is engaging in grassroots organizing?Not surprising in that when you are funneling in national money, that's your structure to do it. I have to ask, the Democratic Party in San Diego, it should be poised for major victories that lost the mayoral race last time around. In preparing for this, I realize I cannot even name the Democratic chairman. I at least remembered Busby, although she lost a number of races. The question is, why do you have a party local at all is not making more waves to show it can recruit all of the candidates to run across the board from school board to Congress, and start being statewide contenders but to at least a great percentage of the money that they raised came from the district.That's good but the party is supposed to be for whatever else, a grooming ground for future candidates. If you look statewide, San Diego has been underrepresented picks to typically voters don't show up in high numbers in the midterm elections. Will they be able to keep this promoting -- momentum going? There's a lot going on on the one year anniversary of the Trump protests. Are they going to be able to sustain this for a whole year?I think the Democrats are going to have to if they want the needle to move in November. They are ready uniquely advantageous time where there's a national president it was so unpopular that Democrats are rallying around opposing him. Republicans have to be careful that if they rest on the Royals -- rest on their laurels, how do you triangulate local politics, national politics and presidential politics. That's what everyone is trying to figure out.We shall see what happens in 2018. [ Laughter ]Unfortunately, it has begun and auntie 20 starts sometime in January.You so much for kicking us off in the new political season.Thank you very much and happy new year.That's Carl Luna who was a political professor at Mesa College.