Skip to main content

LATEST UPDATES: Tracking COVID-19 | Vaccines | Racial Justice

Source: Darrell Issa To Run For Duncan Hunter’s Seat

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) talks to a crowd of 200 supporters and critics ou...

Photo by Matthew Bowler

Above: Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Vista) talks to a crowd of 200 supporters and critics outside of his North County office, Feb. 21, 2017.

Former California Rep. Darrell Issa plans to run against indicted fellow GOP Congressman Duncan Hunter, The Associated Press has learned.

Larry Wilske, a retired Navy SEAL also running for Hunter's seat, told the AP on Wednesday that Issa told him he will enter the race.

Issa scheduled a news conference in Hunter's San Diego-area district on Thursday.

Wilske said he plans to drop out as result and support Issa.

The former nine-term congressman formed an exploratory committee last month and was widely known to be considering a run in the staunchly Republican district east of San Diego. Issa retired from his long stint in Congress before the 2018 election in a neighboring district that he narrowly won two years earlier.

Wilske said Issa, 65, is a safer bet that Hunter's district will remain in Republican hands, and his many years in the House pave the way for him to become a ranking member on committees.

El Cajon Mayor Bill Wells, who also was running for Hunter's seat, said he too plans to bow out and back Issa.

"I think he's the one in the best position to win and get something done," Wells said. "We need to get back to the business of having a presence in Washington."

Hunter has said he has no plans to step down despite being indicted. He is scheduled to be tried in January for allegedly siphoning campaign money for personal use.

The 42-year-old Marine combat veteran is also being challenged by Republican Carl DeMaio, a radio host and former San Diego city councilman with broad name recognition, and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, who came within 3.4 percentage points of unseating Hunter in November.

Issa's entry is expected to make it one of the most closely watched congressional contests in the country. Republicans have a big advantage in voter registration in California's 50th district, which covers east San Diego County and a small part of southern Riverside County.

Hunter won a sixth term last year, barely two months after he and his wife were charged with using more than $250,000 in campaign funds for personal expenses ranging from groceries to golf trips and family vacations. Margaret Hunter has pleaded guilty to one corruption count and agreed to cooperate with investigators.

Hunter, whose father represented the district in Congress for 28 years, has pleaded not guilty and framed the charges as political attack by prosecutors sympathetic to Democrat Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential bid.

Election 2020 news coverage


San Diego News Now podcast branding

San Diego news; when you want it, where you want it. Get local stories on politics, education, health, environment, the border and more. New episodes are ready weekday mornings. Hosted by Anica Colbert and produced by KPBS, San Diego and the Imperial County's NPR and PBS station.

  • Need help keeping up with the news that matters most? Get the day's top news — ranging from local to international — straight to your inbox each weekday morning.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

Curious San Diego banner

Want more KPBS news?
Find us on Twitter and Facebook, or sign up for our newsletters.

To view PDF documents, Download Acrobat Reader.