Former Rep. Darrell Issa launching an exploratory committee for Rep. Duncan Hunter’s seat

Onetime wealthiest member of Congress will be able to tap his fortune to fund his campaign

Then-Rep. Darrell Issa leaves the Capitol in January 2018 a day after announcing that he wouldn’t run for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Then-Rep. Darrell Issa leaves the Capitol in January 2018 a day after announcing that he wouldn’t run for reelection. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)
Posted August 29, 2019 at 9:07am

Former California Rep. Darrell Issa is likely to launch an exploratory committee Thursday in a challenge to embattled Rep. Duncan Hunter, according to a not-yet-unveiled website

“I have formally launched an exploratory committee for the 50th Congressional District in California,” the site reads. “I have received such a tremendous outpouring of encouragement from supporters inside the district, and around the state and across the Nation.”

Under “issues,” the website reads “placeholder for 1st issues title” and “placeholder for 2nd issues title” with dummy text underneath. 

The site was first reported by San Diego NBC 7

Issa, a Republican, withdrew in 2018 from the race for his competitive 49th District seat after nine terms in office. Democrat Mike Levin flipped the seat in the general election.

Hunter represents the neighboring 50th District, more favorable territory for a Republican. Inside Elections with Nathan L. Gonzales rates the race Lean Republican. Issa would join several other Republicans already in the race.

Issa, who has a net worth of approximately $283 million, will be able to tap his vast wealth to fund a campaign. The former owner of a car alarm company and an electronics manufacturing company executive, Issa was the wealthiest member of Congress for a decade. 

Issa is best known for his strong-arm tactics as chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform during the Obama administration, drawing the ire of Democrats. 

Hunter faces trial in January for allegedly drawing from his campaign committee like it was his personal bank account, prosecutors charge. Hunter has been beset by scandal in recent months, including headlines about sexual harassment allegations and possible connections to a man with white supremacist ties.  A conviction could compel Hunter to resign his seat. 

A July filing with the Legislative Resource Center showed Hunter had just a few thousand dollars left in his legal expense fund.

California holds blanket first-round elections: All primary candidates for an office are listed on the same ballot, regardless of party. 

Democrat Ammar Campa-Najjar, a former Labor Department official who lost narrowly to Hunter in 2018, and Republican Carl DeMaio, a former San Diego city councilman and radio host, are among those challenging Hunter. 

Polling released by the DeMaio campaign this month showed DeMaio and Campa-Najjar prevailing in matchups against Issa.


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