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Not Much Change Expected In San Diego’s Congressional Delegation

Only the 52nd District is seen as competitive

Photo caption:

Photo credit: Courtesy Photos / Flickr

Top left: Rep. Susan Davis, top right: Rep. Duncan Hunter, bottom left: Rep. Juan Vargas, bottom right: Rep. Darrell Issa.

The San Diego region's five congressional seats are all up for election this year, but only one race is expected to be competitive.

That's the 52nd District, where voter registration is divided about equally among Republicans, Democrats and those who decline to state a preference. Rep. Scott Peters, a Democrat, is the incumbent.

The power of incumbency has proved overwhelming in the other four local congressional districts, giving Susan Davis, Darrell Issa, Juan Vargas and Duncan Hunter the most secure political jobs in the region.

Photo by Roland Lizarondo

San Diego Mesa College political scientist Carl Luna talks about the politics surrounding San Diego's congressional delegation on April 29, 2016.

Each is up for election every two years.

The June 7 congressional primary is open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters in each race meeting in a runoff in November.

The San Diego County incumbents routinely win with 60 percent to 70 percent of the vote. This November's election night is widely expected to end that way, too.

Political scientist Carl Luna said it is not a surprise that the four districts each has an overwhelming majority of voters from one party.

"People in California and nationally have been voting with their feet for the last 25 years," said Luna, a political science professor at San Diego Mesa College. "Republicans don't like to live in Democratic neighborhoods and vice versa. It's polarized by ethnicity. It's polarized by income levels. So you literally have districts where the people living in them break one way or the other."

Republicans dominate Darrell Issa's 49th District and Duncan Hunter's 50th District. Democrats typically carry Davis' 53rd District and Juan Vargas' 51st District.

Many people talk about replacing a Congress they believe fails to do its job, but voters rarely follow through in their own districts.

"Only 10 percent of Americans think Congress, you can have any trust in them, but we're going to re-elect 92 (percent) to 94 percent of them," Luna said. "Most people think, 'It's not my congressman that's the problem. It is you idiots electing the stupid congressmen.'"

Political consultant Laura Fink said the last time district lines were drawn in 2010, the region was cut into four partisan districts and one competitive district. The job of redistricting was given to a nonpartisan panel in an effort to make the process less political.

But districts could only be changed so much because geography comes into play.

"The congressional districts tended to be a little bit more vertical. So they had some north-south capacity and not as much east-west," Fink said. "And then after the 2010 redistricting, they were a little bit more east-west."

Incumbents are hard to unseat because their opponents from other parties have fewer registered voters to draw from, Fink said.

Sitting congressional representatives also have access to a lot more campaign money.

That combination means the region's four partisan congressional districts will likely only see a new representative if there's a retirement or a death.

Both Fink and Luna said a scandal could end one of those four political careers, but voters would have to feel there's a reasonable alternative on the ballot before that would become possible.

49th District: Rep. Darrell Issa faces pair of challengers

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Photo by Susana Tsutsumi

The 49th Congressional District includes Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, Oceanside, Vista and San Clemente.

Darrell Issa, 63, Republican, former CEO of business he founded, first elected to House of Representatives in 2000.

Doug Applegate, 62, Democrat, attorney, retired from the U.S. Marine Corps after 32 years of service.

Ryan Glenn Wingo, 34, independent, student, lists walking, reading, music, movies and smoking cannabis as his other interests.

50th District: Quartet looks to unseat Rep. Duncan Hunter

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Photo by Susana Tsutsumi

The 50th Congressional District includes Alpine, Ramona, Julian, Borrego Springs, Escondido and Temecula.

Duncan Hunter, 39, Republican, serves in U.S. Marine Corps Reserves, replaced his father — he also goes by Duncan Hunter — in 2008 when he retired.

Patrick Malloy, 49, Democrat, real estate agent, enjoys cooking and surfing.

Dave Secor, 68, Democrat, retired from San Diego County Superior Court, earned a bachelor's degree from SDSU.

H. FUJI Shioura, 44, independent, unsuccessfully ran for Congress four years ago in Illinois.

Scott Meisterlin, 59, Republican, retired attorney, sports and politics are major interests.

51st District: Rep. Juan Vargas replaced Bob Filner who quit to run for San Diego mayor

Photo caption:

Photo by Susana Tsutsumi

The 51st Congressional District includes Chula Vista, Campo, Boulevard, Jacumba, Calexico, El Centro, Imperial and Brawley.

Juan Vargas, 55, Democrat, congressional representative, first political position was as a member of the San Diego City Council.

Juan Mercado Flores, Democrat, deputy sheriff.

Carlos Sanchez, Republican, pediatrician.

Juan Hidalgo Jr., Republican, retired U.S. Marine.

52nd District: Rep. Scott Peters is running for third term

Photo caption:

Photo by Susana Tsutsumi

The 52nd Congressional District includes Coronado, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, University City, Carmel Valley, Clairemont, Linda Vista, Tierrasanta, San Carlos, Mira Mesa, Rancho Peñasquitos, Scripps Ranch, Poway and Rancho Bernardo.

Scott Peters, 58, Democrat, former environmental attorney, was elected by fewer than 6,000 votes in each of his first two terms.

Jacquie Atkinson, 40, Republican, businesswoman, works with the Defense Department advising on strategies for military troops in the Middle East.

Denise Gitsham, 39, Republican, attorney and small business owner, worked in the Bush-Cheney White House.

John Horst, 48, Republican, information technology career, chair of the Mira Mesa Community Planning Group.

Terry Allvord, 51, Republican, owner La Jolla Bike Tour, served in the U.S. Navy including a number of tours of duty in the Middle East.

Kenneth “Mike” Canada, 50, Republican, corporate tax analyst/university professor, enjoys reading, playing drums and spending time with family.

53rd District: Rep. Susan Davis has been serving in congress since 2001

Photo caption:

Photo by Susana Tsutsumi

The 53rd Congressional District includes La Mesa, El Cajon, Spring Valley and Bonita.

Susan Davis, 72, Democrat, congressional representative, served in two different congressional districts, the 49th and 53rd.

Jim Ash, 44, Republican, small business owner, graduated from SDSU with management information systems degree.

James Veltmeyer, 48, Republican, physician, chief of the department of family medicine at Sharp Grossmont Hospital.

Election 2020 news coverage


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