Yesterday, TFPP reported that nine-term Republican Congressman Darrell Issa had announced he would be declining to seek re-election. But now we have word that his announcement might not have been what it initially seemed.
The Hill reports that according to several sources, Issa may not actually be done with public office; instead, he may be simply ditching his 49th district to run in another district where he stands a better chance of winning.
The Hill also notes that Issa’s statement yesterday didn’t expressly promise a return to private life; it specifically said he would “not seek re-election in California’s 49th District” and that “service to California’s 49th District will be coming to an end.”
Specifically, Issa is considering the possibility of running in the 50th Congressional District, which is currently represented by Republican Congressman Duncan D. Hunter (son of longtime Congressman Duncan L. Hunter). The theory is that Hunter would be forced to step aside if his own scandals become to hot to survive:
Last year, FBI agents searched the offices of Hunter’s campaign treasurer and seized evidence in an investigation into whether his campaign misused campaign funds. Hunter’s campaign spent more than $1,300 in video game purchases, something he blamed on his son, as well as other funds for airfare for the family rabbit and his children’s private school tuition.
On Wednesday, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported that a business in Hunter’s district received a subpoena in December related to the federal investigation. Hunter told reporters Thursday that he had not personally received a subpoena related to the matter.
For his part, Hunter insists he’s staying where he is, and speaks in rather blunt terms about whether Issa would attempt to capitalize on his problems: “If I was to blow up in the air, then he would be running for [the seat].”
The Hill is most likely correct that this is the real reason for Issa’s decision, and that it was entirely a political calculation. Given that he won his most recent reelection by fewer than 2,000 votes, and that Hillary Clinton won his district, Issa must be all-but certain that he wouldn’t survive another campaign. That leaves as the only remaining question why he decided to announce the news now, rather than wait and see how Hunter’s situation shakes out. Issa and his people must privately be very confident that Hunter won’t be making a political recovery.
So in the final analysis, abandoning a lost-cause seat to rescue a salvageable seat would probably be the best thing for the GOP’s short-term political future. But the fact that we’re even having this discussion is a warning sign too few Republicans are taking seriously. As the LA Times reported last summer:
When Issa was first elected in 2000, more than half of registered voters in the district were Republicans, 27.2% were Democrats and 15.4% chose no party preference.
Now Republicans make up just 37.7% of registered voters in Issa’s district, which includes southern Orange County and northern San Diego County suburbs such as Oceanside, Carlsbad and Vista. Meanwhile, the share of voters registering as Democrats, 31%, and no party preference, 26%, has increased.
Though it is mostly white, the district has a growing Latino population. The influence of the military vote from Camp Pendleton still holds a lot of sway, but the area’s tech industry is growing, too.
Meanwhile, most of the national GOP seems hell-bent on “compromising” with Democrats on the issue that will do the most to complete the transformation of the electorate, mass immigration. God help us.