REGION – Election day is less than a month away, and recent polls suggest that one of the region’s most anticipated races between Republican Darrell Issa and Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar may still be anyone’s game.
The 50th Congressional District, which encompasses most of East County, portions of inland North County and a small part of Riverside County, is a historically Republican district.
Public polls, however, say that the race is tightening, which means that Republicans could lose their last remaining congressional seat in San Diego County.
Camp-Najjar, 31, ran for the 50th seat back in 2018, but was narrowly beat out by then-incumbent Duncan D. Hunter.
“I’ve been campaigning for four years with this district in mind, with these people in mind,” Campa-Najjar said. “For [Issa], all roads lead to Washington, it doesn’t matter if it’s the 49th or the 50th… for me, my roots are very much in this district.”
The Democrat was born in East County and previously worked at the Department of Labor during the Obama Administration.
“My vision has always been about putting country before party and people over politics,” Campa-Najjar said. “I’m more of a moderate who wants to bring everyone together and I think that’s how you govern, that’s how you legislate; with everyone’s needs in mind, not just one party over the other.”
Issa, 66, is hoping to return to Washington with a new seat. He served as a congressman for nearly 20 years until 2019, when he decided not to run for the 49th District seat again.
“I’ve been an effective member of congress for the region and the nation, and I have a desire to serve,” Issa told The Coast News. “I don’t pretend to be a supervisor or a mayor or a city councilman, I do the job that you expect someone to do as a representative in Washington; work on national and global issues and make sure that to the extent that there are federal programs available in your home district that we get our fair share of it, and that’s what I’ve done for all of my time in congress.”
Issa added that he is fiscally and socially conservative, as well as consistent, something he claims his opponent is not.
“[Campa-Najjar] was for the Green New Deal… he has said that he supports 100% Medicare for all and a single-payer plan,” Issa said. “He will say something different today, but he never explains how his position changed from being absolutely for those in 2018. That’s one of the most important things is: are you consistent?”
The 50th District seat was previously held by Duncan D. Hunter, who, despite being indicted on more than 60 counts related to the misuse of campaign funds, won re-election in 2018.
After pleading guilty to one count related to the indictment, Hunter was sentenced to 11 months in prison, and resigned from his congressional seat in January 2020, leaving the seat vacant for nearly 10 months.
Voters will decide the fate of the 50th District on Nov. 3.