Issa Widens Lead Over Campa-Najjar For 50th Congressional Seat
UPDATE: 5:09 p.m., Nov.6, 2020:
Republican Darrell Issa widens his lead over Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar for California's 50th Congressional District seat , which currently has no representation on Capitol Hill.
Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar are vying for California's 50th Congressional District seat, which currently has no representation on Capitol Hill. Rep. Duncan Hunter resigned the seat after pleading guilty to misusing campaign funds.
The 50th covers much of San Diego's East County and goes into Temecula. Latest registration numbers show 40% of voters are registered Republicans, while 30% are Democrats.
Issa previously served in Congress for 18 years, mostly representing the 49th Congressional District which includes large parts of North County. Issa stepped down in 2018 after regular protests outside his office in Vista. He was then tapped by President Trump to head the U.S. Trade and Development Agency, but was never confirmed by the Senate.
"I make no bones about it as a conservative; the other district that I represented became very difficult — but I stood my ground," Issa said during a virtual forum hosted by the North San Diego Business Chamber.
Campa-Najjar worked in the Labor Department during the Obama administration. He is running for a second time, after finishing only a few points behind Hunter in 2018.
"I am a consensus builder. I’ve managed to piss off both parties, so I must be doing something right," Campa-Najjar said. "On the things, we agree on I want to go far: creating jobs, apprenticeship programs."
Campa-Najjar would like to see more aid and forgivable loan for businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
"What I’d like to do when I'm in Congress is make sure these loans for small businesses are going to those who are employing people and those who need it the most," he said.
Both candidates agree the state should not be deciding who gets to stay open or who has to shut down, but Issa does not want to see more stimulus money.
"The idea that we’re going to throw another trillion, two trillion, three trillion dollars of borrowed money in order to keep people at home — I think that is foolhardy. It is inconsistent with what I'm hearing," Issa said. "Small businesses tell me they just want to be reopened."
On the topic of homelessness, Campa-Najjar said San Diego county needs more federal funding to help house one of the largest homeless populations in the country.
"There’s a mismatch there. We need to take care of our homeless veterans get them wrap-around services that I worked on at the Department of Labor — helping people retrain, retool," he said.
Issa wants to take care of homeless veterans too, he said the federal government plays an important role in funding rehabilitation programs but wants to see faith organizations empowered to help those who are homeless.
"We have to transition people from not being employable from being drug-addicted or some other way unemployable," he said.
Both candidates agree while California has ambitious climate action goals, they have an energy storage problem and need to be cautious about taking traditional powerplants offline.
In mid-October both candidates did interviews with the far-right group Defend East County. The group was formed after protests turned violent in La Mesa and has been criticized for some members making racist statements and threatening the lives of Black Lives Matter protestors.
During that interview Campa-Najjar made controversial statements including that he would investigate Hilary Clinton and Obama, he supports Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court, and reiterated stances in support of Trump’s border wall and against his impeachment. Campa-Najjar also said his vote for President was still open, even though he had voted for Biden in the primary and the Democratic nominee had endorsed him. After questions from KPBS, Campa-Najjar said he voted for Biden and walked back some of the other statements that the San Diego County Democratic Party chair called "disappointing."
During his own Defend East County interview, Issa falsely claimed the Black Lives Matter movement is a for-profit entity and that its leaders encourage rioting and looting. He also disparaged the anti-fascist movement known as “antifa.”
“So when I look at Black Lives Matter or I look at antifa, I see two things: People who are willing to take away your rights and your freedom and justice for you — by using violence and destruction,” Issa said.
He also expressed support for Defend East County’s vigilantism.
“A militia in fact is a personal right under the Second Amendment and your right to defend your community and to take charge, if your government fails you, or to take arms if your government turns on you; those are your constitutional rights,” Issa told the group's founder.