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San Diego GOP Leader Explains No Endorsement In 50th Congressional

Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, heading into court, Oct. 7, 2019.

Photo by Matt Hoffman

Above: Rep. Duncan Hunter, R-Alpine, heading into court, Oct. 7, 2019.

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Republican candidates for the 50th District, currently held by embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter, take aim at one another but no one got the local GOP party endorsement.

Aired: October 16, 2019 | Transcript

The San Diego County Republican Party has failed to endorse any of the four candidates running in the 50th Congressional District race. That includes Rep. Duncan Hunter, who has been indicted for misusing campaign funds.

On the Democratic side, Hunter's 2018 opponent, Ammar Campa-Najar, will run again in 2020.

Tony Krvaric is the chairman of the Republican Party of San Diego County. He says the 40 members of the party committee could not reach the two-thirds majority needed to make an endorsement. KPBS reporter Priya Sridhar spoke with him about what that means for the race heading into the primary.

Q: So what happens next?

Q: The party is not going to have a preferred candidate. And whoever makes it out of the runoff against the socialist will become our default nominee.

Q: Is this the first time in the history of the San Diego County Republicans that there hasn't been an endorsement?

Q: No. No, it hasn't. Most of the time there is an endorsement because the committee really wants to get to an endorsement. In this top-two primary system that we have, we run the risk of having Democrats determine which Republican can get into the top-two. So they can vote for a weaker Republican, if you will, or their preferred Republican, try to game the system, or you could have the risk where two Democrats make it into the runoff. Unlikely but it certainly has happened. And then Republicans get shut out completely. So if Republicans don't know who the endorsed candidate is and they just spread their votes and there are only two Democrats and there are four or five or six Republicans it could happen with two Democrats get into a runoff and Republicans have nobody.

Q: Why do you think you weren't able to get that two-thirds?

A: Because all four made a credible, strong path and strong case to make and as a result that was a decision of the committee.

Q: Can you tell us how the votes were broken down?

A: Good question, but no. This is all in closed session. And so the only thing we report out is the actual results for endorsement or non-endorsement.

Q: Are you worried at all about the fact that you weren't able to get the two-thirds majority that, that could somehow trickle down into the actual election and make it so there could be internal politics that could then help Campa-Najjar?

A: I think on the Democrat side you have one candidate who people are coalescing around. That candidate will not support President Trump. That candidate will vote for Nancy Pelosi for Speaker. Any of the other candidates will not. And that district is one of the most Republican districts. I think President Trump won it by 15 points last time. So, that the district will vote for President Trump, again. And, they will also vote for the representative that supports the president.

Q: Duncan Hunter pointed this out a lot yesterday (Monday) when he said that only seven seats are still being held by Republicans in the state of California. Only two of them south of Los Angeles, including his. So this is a pretty critical seat for the Republican Party. Why is this (seat) key for the future of the party in the state of California?

A: Well, we need to have a Republican voice in Washington representing us down here and we don't have, you know, we have the current Democrats on here. They clearly have no traction with the White House. So, if San Diego is going to get anything done, we need somebody to be able to carry that to the White House and also represent the hundreds of thousands of Republicans that live here.

Q: A lot of people say that part of the reason that Ammar was able to get so much traction in the last election was because of Duncan Hunter's criminal issues that he's dealing with right now. Are you worried at all about that potentially happening again?

A: The good thing is ... this will be settled by January. I think the final, now, postponement and all the legal procedures are that there is a court date in mid-January. That's going to take two, three weeks. Ballots start in early February. So, we should know and the electorate will know one way or the other. And so we'll have four candidates there and, obviously, if it doesn't go the congressman's way than that will kind of sort itself out.

Listen to this story by Priya Sridhar.

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