'Viability' Forum Challenges Congressional Candidates To Show Road To Victory
A forum in Oceanside Friday night is designed to test the viability of each Democratic candidate running for Republican Rep. Darrell Issa’s 49th Congressional seat.
The district was considered one of the most vulnerable after incumbent Issa almost lost his seat in 2016. However, since Issa decided not to run again, a dozen candidates have jumped into the race.
The Flip the 49th campaign is holding a viability forum in an attempt to narrow the field, perhaps even encourage some of the five Democrats running to drop out, for the good of the party.
California’s primary election system no longer guarantees a member of each political party will go on to a run-off in November.
Californians voted in 2010 for a top-two primary system — instead of one candidate per party winning the right to compete in November — the two candidates with the most votes win.
Terra Lawson-Remer of Flip the 49th said in practice it means the side with the most candidates is least likely to win.
"There’s an unfortunate side effect," she said, "even if you have a majority of voters vote Democrat, you could have no Democrats make it through June."
The top-two primary system was championed in Proposition 14 by then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to try to reduce the bitter partisan divide.
Lawson-Remer said the candidates are all strong, but voters need to focus their support on the most viable candidates, or risk being shut out.
“We just know the math,” she said, “and the jungle primary system in California makes it quite likely that if you have too many on one side of the ticket, the other side of the ticket can get two Republicans through June, even though the majority of voters prefer the Democratic side."
The 49th Congressional District, which covers the North County coastline and stretches into Orange County, has slightly more registered Republicans than Democrats, but the voters supported Hillary Clinton in 2016. Almost 80,000 voters decline to state a party preference.
The Flip the 49th campaign says all five Democratic candidates have been invited to Friday's forum. Doug Applegate, Mike Levin, Christina Prejean and Paul Kerr have confirmed their attendance.
The Flip the 49th campaign commissioneds a poll of likely voters in the 49th district that was released last week. The company that collected the data will present the information at the forum for discussion on candidate viability, strategy and issues.
Lawson-Remer said the goal is to have a transparent process rather than allowing decisions to be made behind closed doors.
The viability forum will run from 6 to 8 p.m., Friday at the Ocean Hills Country Club, in Oceanside. Registration is required.