Sunday, July 16, 2017

Congressman Darrell Issa, One of the Most Vulnerable Republicans in 2018

I keep seeing folks mentioning "Orange County Republican Congressman Darrell Issa." And I'm all, huh? The guy's from San Diego?

Well, apparently parts of his district include San Clemente and Camp Pendleton, located in South Orange County. So I guess his new moniker is technically accurate, even if this L.A. Times piece notes that his main constituency is in San Diego County.

Either way, he's definitely vulnerable. California's way left-wing, and even South O.C.'s not immune to the degenerate influences of radical leftist ideology.

See, "Darrell Issa was Obama's toughest critic. Here's why he's suddenly sounding like a moderate" (safe link):
The hundreds of protesters who show up weekly to wave signs outside Rep. Darrell Issa’s office in a drab office park in Vista, Calif., have written a song for him to the tune of “Oh! Susanna.”

“Darrell Issa, you’ve got to oversee. You need to check-and-balance [Trump] before it’s World War III,” they sing toward the tinted windows of the building.

As chairman of the committee charged with overseeing the executive branch, Issa was once known as President Obama’s toughest critic. Now the richest man in Congress has found himself with protesters at his door, no committee to lead, and a tough race expected in 2018.

It has forced the nine-term congressman to walk a shaky line, reassuring his conservative base that he’s not moderating his positions while showing the growing number of independents and Democrats in his district that he’s not as partisan as people think.

For months, the 63-year-old Issa has sporadically ventured outside, all smiles, to talk with protesters at his office. He’s been the only vulnerable Southern California Republican to do so since President Trump’s election inspired regular demonstrations at their offices.

Though the crowd of about 300 at an April protest yelled and booed over him at times, Issa answered questions with a steady voice, pushing back when someone accused him of being more conservative than tea party supporters or demanded that he try to impeach the president.

“You can go online and look at conservative groups and what you’ll find is I’m not the most conservative Republican, I’m not the least conservative Republican, but I am a Republican,” he told them.

Prior to his tight 2016 win, Issa had gotten at least 58% of the vote in his eight previous campaigns. He wasn’t expecting the reliably Republican district to react so badly to Trump, or so well to Democrat Doug Applegate, a novice candidate on no one's radar.

His 0.6% victory margin, and the fact that the district narrowly went for Democrat Hillary Clinton, makes him one of the most vulnerable Republicans in Congress. For 2018, Issa has already raised $1.2 million, and has drawn a rematch from Applegate and challenges from Orange County environmental lawyer Mike Levin and San Diego real estate investor Paul Kerr as well as the attention of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has promised to make the 49th District a battleground again.

“He won by only about 1,600 votes. ... We smell blood," said protest organizer Ellen Montanari, 63, of Encinitas.

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.

“The district is changing,” said UC Irvine political scientist Graeme Boushey. “He is really walking on a razor’s edge now, especially given Trump’s unpopularity with voters.”

Those who first showed up at Issa’s office protests were hoping he’d moderate to match the district, Montanari said.

“I wanted to hear him, I wanted to talk to him, I wanted to be able to find out what he’s thinking and what he thought about Trump,” Montanari said. “I’ve never heard him sound more like a moderate than he did [during a telephone town hall]. The day he starts voting like that is the day I will say, ‘Thank you.’”